Thursday, February 8, 2018

Hard to imagine

The way life works.

I was looking for a photo of Jim in a costume to put on a wall of Memory at the Farpoint convention. I found it. But opening the blog that I hadn't opened in a long time (even though I think of it often), well, wow. A flash of memories and photos that was like steppinig into a kitchen filled with scents and spices and such that you didn't know which way to look first.
Just spent an hour going thru blog entries and looking at photos and crying and laughing and lookinig over at Skye and telling him "Jim would have like you buddy".  
The photos that hit the hardest were the ones taken down in Georgia with his brother and family. It was just weeks before he died. It was him with the quirky eyebrow and goofy goatee and smile and twinkle in the eye. Sigh.
Yep, still missing you honey. Still missing you.

Friday, June 20, 2014

June 2014 what a difference in a couple years.

May 29th, 2014 was the seven year demark.

Update and such.

Seven years and I I feel like I have come so far and yet not so far at all.

I have had a life with new friends that never had the pleasure of knowing Jim. I have lost my other dog and 2 cats. And gained a new dog that is a great source of comfort, love and pride - as only your own dog can be. I was diagnosed with onset diabetes, changed my diet and began exercising and beat it. My doctor was amazed at the change in a year.I lost 28 pounds and want to lose another 10. I have begun a journey to change the outward image of myself - new dressier clothes, more responsiblity at work and healthier eating/exercising. I had to get new clothes because of the weight loss and threw the too big stuff away so I wouldn't gain it back. I have had a date with a guy. No second date, but oh well. I have been to a wedding and not had a meltdown. I have been to two funerals and did have meltdowns. I often still feel very lonely and alone in this world.

A friend lost her husband a couple weeks ago and is devastated, as I was. He was in his 50's as Jim was. Her grief is bringing back to the surface all the feelings that I had when losing Jim. It has not been easy to have these again but her need of comfort is outweighing my pain. She is going thru the sense of lonliness and heartache and, well, not just heartache but the sense that your heart has been ripped from your body. I am hoping that some of the conversations we have had will help her to know she is not alone in feeling as she does. Going to a grief counseling group and writing his blog were critical to begin the road after the death. A road you don't want to take but still happens.

Another friend of mine had a baby girl on May 25th. I didn't see her till May 31st and we both cried when she told me the baby was named Jamie - in memory of Jim.

On May 29th I was in Atlantic City NJ.  Not to gamble but to enjoy a special deal on a nice hotel with a spa, pool, sauna and such. I was quickly sorry I went as it was nothing like I imagined and the weather was too crappy to go to the beach. The spa was closed and women's  hot tub was not working. The boardwalk was fun though. And getting room service as part of the 'deal' was a blast. I did get to drive up to my favorite beach - Long Beach Island and pick up a piece of beatiful stained glass for the house.

Jim and I - April 2007

Betsy - June 2014

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A five year long Memorial weekend

This weekend has been played and replayed in my head for five years now.

Jim passed on Tuesday morning, after a long Memorial day weekend. I have been reliving the moments and speeding ahead and slowing them down for the last couple days. I decided to go away for a few days and get out of the house and the memories. Not to forget, but to remember.

The chain of days sort of both blend into each other and then moments stand out. Sitting in an ER room waiting for a doctor and not an intern or nurse to look at test results. Hearing about the surgery for the stents to go in his heart arteries. Sitting in the hospital cafeteria at 5 am and reading while Jim slept upstairs for the first time all night. His blood sugar level dropping to below 30 later that day and the nurses that were idiots. Coming home with him and getting a chance for both of us to relax. Monday was him not wanting to be trapped in the house and had to go out. Yep, to a movie, to the grocery store with me. We went to bed that night with him reading comics and me reading some Heinlein. Woke up to him in severe pain and holding his chest. It was just two hours later that he died.

When I see a death happening on tv - like on Grey's anatomy or ER or the like. I wonder. I have these things that pop into my head. The big one is why the HELL didn't I sit in the back of the ambulance with him. Why couldn't I do that at least. It was only a few minutes after we pulled into the hospital that he went into a full arrest. Why did we do those things on monday and I know it would have been better not to, but he had to, wanted to and had already gotten lectured from his sister about changing his life.

I want to recall the fun times with Jim not the terrifying moments in the ER. I was put in a small room and told to wait. At one point a janitor came in, emptying the trash and offered me a prayer for my husband. I want to remember him laughing as he watched the movies we both love, the moments that we both shared as one, the times we helped each other.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I read this and it touched a spot. Having lost Jim, and our dogs, and his cat.

I stood by your bed last night, I came to have a peep.
I could see that you were crying, You found it hard to sleep.
I whined to you softly as you brushed away a tear,
"It's me, I haven't left you, I'm well, I'm fine, I'm here."

I was close to you at breakfast, I watched you pour the tea,
You were thinking of the many times, your hands reached down to me.
I was with you at the shops today, Your arms were getting sore.
I longed to take your parcels, I wish I could do more.

I was with you at my grave today, You tend it with such care.
I want to re-assure you, that I'm not lying there.
I walked with you towards the house, as you fumbled for your key.
I gently put my paw on you, I smiled and said " it's me."

You looked so very tired, and sank into a chair.
I tried so hard to let you know, that I was standing there.
It's possible for me, to be so near you everyday.
To say to you with certainty, "I never went away."
You sat there very quietly, then smiled, I think you knew...
In the stillness of that evening, I was very close to you.

The day is over... I smile and watch you yawning
and say "good-night, God bless, I'll see you in the morning."
And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide,
I'll rush across to greet you and we'll stand, side by side.
I have so many things to show you, there is so much for you to see.

Be patient, live your journey out...then come home to be with me.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Time passes

4 years, 10 months, 15 days

I haven't counted that out in awhile.

Life has been moving on forward and yet there are still things that happen every single day that I want to share with him.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Leap forward!

Missed all of Feb. and most of March. Life has been busy. Today I am wearing memory. I have one of Jim's million t-shirts on. It says "Stealth" on the back and something Naval Academy on the front. Jim won this at a movie viewing of the movie Stealth. Something about AI's in stealth war planes and of course the AI's take control of the ship.

Anyway, he got it a few years ago at the opening of the movie. We are at this theatre and it is not a large group of people but there is a radio dj there to promote the movie. He had some giveaways - t-shirts and hats and posters. He was talking up the movie on the air and then the DJ said, the first person to the front gets a hat and shirt. OH MAN. Jim was out of his seat and leaping over chairs like he was Superman. He beat out the 9 yr old that was there. Almost neutered himself on one of the leaps over - no just going down the aisle for him! He got the shirt and hat and then gave the hat to the kid. The DJ gave Jim another shirt and hat just for his enthusiasm.

Today a dear old friend of mine is coming to help me look over some of Jim's comic collection. I want help to put it in some order and judge what it may have in the way of worth on the market. I have already started sorting and made some great finds. I knew Jim had a lot of Fantastic Four comics, but not the series back to #16. He has a couple boxes of just FF's. But not just that, there are lots that he collected that I didn't know about but could see his dedication in making sure he had a whole story arc in the series.

With 16 long boxes of comics it comes to about 2500 or more of comics to sort so it will be a long day, week, month. I know I am going to keep some, but most will be finding a new home. I am wearing this t-shirt in honor of Jim's leaping into things no matter what the consequenes.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A BK breakfast ache

Went to breakfast at Burger King today. Yep, a fast food english muffini with cheese, egg and sausage for $1, and a cup of coffee. Not the best thing to start the day with, but I indulge once a week for that price. I sit and eat and read and relax for 15 minutes before going onward to work.

I am reading "Fallen Angels" on my Kindle as I eat. I feel the tears swelling in my eyes and the ache in my heart as I read one particular passage.

The story is basically about the downfall of America/the world. It is set in post downfall times. The "greenies" have taken over and stopped technology and what they think is messing up the Earth. The Ice Age cometh because global warming doesn't hold it back. By stopping technology they have also stopped the thinking of new technology and science fiction is outlawed. Oh, fairies and magic and fantasy is still okay, but no real science in the stories is allowed.

Up in space is an American/Russian space station. Humans living in a confined environment and trying to survive. Two of them go out to cull some much needed nitrogen for air and their ship ends crashing on Earth.

Now, if you are a science fiction fan, you will love the book. The fen (as the fans are called) learn of the crash and go to rescue the spacemen/Angels before the "greenies" or the military can get to them. The book is about their travels and the other fans in the country that help them out along the way.

At one point in their travels they come to stop overnight in St. Louis. They are greeted at the Arch and taken into an enclave of fen that are also a medevil reenactment group. The reenactment group gets by because they are more 'fantasy' orientated.

The scene happens that evening when the Angels are telling their story. One of them talks about his trip up in space when he was 6 yr's old with his mom and dad. It was the last trip up.

The last flight. Doesn't that sound familiar. I think something connected in my brain then and started the ache.

He talks about when they were loading the ship, there was a riot starting. People wanting to stop it. People defending it. How could people want to stop these flights or this program. An older man said he was there and described the fight when they tried to break into Mission Control and how the ground crew gave lives to give time for the ship to get into space and to stop the precious controls from being destroyed.

I did cry a little at this. The space program was closed soon after and the space station was on its own.

Could this happen in America now? Maybe not. In the future? maybe not either, but to think that this story, a fiction could come true - it made me sad to think about it. A vision? A prophecy? just someone thinking the worst that could happen to our country and hoping for better.

Now, don't take this as the tone for the whole book. The story has a great feeling of hope and a show of comaradrie as the Angels travel thru the country getting help and support from groups along the way.

It was just a somber moment in the book and because of what has happened recently, an equally somber moment.

2012 starts!

I missed the whole month of December. Whooosh. It went on by.

There wasn't much to talk about anyway. I really dislike the holidays. They remind me of how out of touch my siblings and I are. I refuse to whine and moan about it anymore. I have tortured others with my tales of woe. I am going to move on to something like a new year and hopefully force myself into a different path of thinking.

I am swimming laps and enjoying it and saw that I have lost some weight. I am very happy about that. It makes the effort worthwhile. Not the effort of the swimming, but the effort to get there, change, and then after swimming the showering and changing to go back out and drive home. The good is outweighing the bad so it's okay.

I cleaned the laundry room/pantry out and found that I must be stocking up for the end of the world on Dec. 12th. Way too many cans of soup, spaghetti sauce, veggies and pineapple slices. No Spam. Must buy some Spam.

With the help of others I rearranged the bedroom and cleared some old furniture out. I also went thru the books. I got rid of a lot of ones that I had read and weren't worth keeping. By getting rid of, I mean, donated to a local bookstore where the books are free. You drop them off, you pick some up. Looking at organized shelves for the first time in years is nice. Nice enough to try and keep them that way. So, two rooms down, three to go.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Contemplation on me

I was driving into work this morning and thinking about the next few days. I have a lot to get done before going to visit my Aunt, Uncle and cousins for the holiday, and yet I was very settled and okay. I thought about this and decided it is because I have taken charge of my life in a new way. I had been coasting and going day to day. Trying hard to be ready for the next crisis and never really making it. Today I finally felt like I had made it. Not sure what that means, but I felt like I was in control of things, instead of things being in control of me.

Most likely this will change by next week, but hey, it was a nice feeling for today.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A three hour tour....

Not a 3 hour tour, but rather a 3 hour dinner. Just came back from this and am very full with tasty Indian food.

I took my friend and neighbor out for her birthday dinner. She is vegaterian and loves Indian food so we went to a local spot. And then ate and talked. And talked and talked and talked some more. The server finally just gave us the check and said "stay as long as you like". We got in the car and I saw that it was 9 pm. Wow. We had gotten there at 6 pm.

The talk was good, I think both of us were purging about stuff that had happened in the last month or so. She had started dating on OKcupid and was telling me some stories about that and I was talking about jobs and what I want to be when I grew up and it was fun. We jumped from trips to the north to go skiing to her upcoming trip to Delhi for christmas to her getting the roof replaced and me getting my ducts in the house cleaned to our dogs, our cats, our sex life or lack there of to how cute the server guy was and whether she may work in MD or DC next spring to what to pain the kitchen.

Yep. Fun and much needed. I am full of good food and relaxed. Friends are good for the soul.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Still missing you

I’m still missing you
Still missing you

I turn to ask a question or listen for an objection
and I only hear the the emptiness of where you used to be

I’m still missing you

There seems to be no hope for me
No dreams left to achieve
No, not depressed, not angry, just feeling left behind.

Some days I smile and laugh and wonder where you are.
Some days I go thru the motions and work towards something that’s too far.

I see you in the house, a ghost of what was here. I love to see your face and know that you are near.
I can always find you, if only in my thoughts.

I am slowly emptying out the house but it’s hard to keep up the pace. I stop and look at the shirts you wore or the movies you used to watch. I don’t want to let them go just yet, but I know some times I must.

To take this home and make it mine and make that step forward, I try and try and hope you don’t mind and think you would be okay. This house was yours. You told me about that corner you had to stand it when you were bad and the games played in the kitchen.

I know what I need to do, but doing it is another story.

We gathered a lot of things in our life together. Books and toys and stuff. Boxes and boxes to go thru and decide which memories to keep.

I lay in bed last night and dreamed of dreaming of you. I thought about the last time I cried and know it has been awhile. This make me sad but also makes me think the time has formed that scar. It once was an open wound on my heart and at some point became a scab. The emptiness is still there but the world has grown past it.

I touch my heart and think of you and still wonder why you had to go.

I'm still missing you.


written at 1ish in the morning on sunday 11/13 after waking from a dream and thinking of Jim.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fears of Zero

A bit late for Halloween, but think of this as alternative to The Raven.

Late at night.
When the world sleeps.
And I am here alone.
And here I come some nights to confront my fears.
They're fears.
They are always with me.
Lurking, scurrying, hiding, and waiting.
They come!
And they go.
Though they are gone they are never far
and here alone at night I can confront them.
There they are...confronted fears!
Fears of hunger, fears of pain, fears of missing the last train.
Fears of dentists always drilling, fears that no one will be willing...
to see me as I know I really am.
Once they are counted and compelled...they can quickly be dispelled...
Like figments of my own imagination.

But always, there are other fears.
Fears of snakes, fears of cats,
fears of mańętre d's and rats.
An irrational black terror...
that someday I may get fat.
Fear of elevators falling, and the taxman someday calling
And the accidental walling of myself up inside a clammy, dank, old, dingy cellar where the spiders weave around my tummy
And the worms, and bugs and crawly things squirm and squiggle at my person. (Oh, I love it!)
Once they are counted and compelled, they can quickly be dispelled...

But then there are other fears.
Fears of bullets, there's a dread.
Fear of baldness on the head.
Fear of waking up one morning, to discover that you are dead.
Once they are counted and compelled, they can quickly be dispelled...
Like figments of my own imagination.

Then there is the last fear.
Just about the time I'm past fear.
The one that really is final.
It will come.
Yours...and mine'll.
In the darkest of the night
it will come without a fight.
It will count me and compel me.
It will casually dispel me.
For I am just a figment of its own imagination.


Fears of Zero
Written by Jerry Juhl
Preformed by Zero Mostel on The Muppet Show

This was first shared with me by a friend who did a calm, slow reading of the work. Then I went to youtube and learned just how Muppets change everthing!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ouch! My poor head!

I did it again yesterday. Smacked the top of my head on something hard enough to scrape skin and hair and make it bleed. I didn't even notice the bleeding part, that was pointed out to me by a friend.

I was working in my basement which is about 5 feet high and has all kinds of ducts and pipes and such running through it. I bent down, stood back up and bam, that did it. A nice 2 inch scrape on the top of my head.

That's okay, it is not alone up there. 2 years ago I slipped in the rain and fell off my front steps and went head first into the concrete sidewalk. Big ouch. I think I may have even blacked out for a moment and when I reached up to feel my scalp, I came away with a bit of skin and hair and blood. Ick.

I think this started back when I was about ten. I had long blondish red hair and was playing in the yard with my brothers. I got up on the tire swing and stood up on the top of it. Then suddenly in the swirling around, my hair got caught in the rope and a piece got yanked out so fast I didn't have a chance to yell. I yelled a lot afterwards that's for sure.

There have been other times I have scraped or scratched or cracked my head and the top of my head bears the scars. I am glad I heal fast.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Brother from anotha' mother

Some extraordinary friends. Don't think of them as friends but as cousins. I have spent more real life time with them than my real blood cousins. Their parents and my parents were good friends and we were always at one or the other of each others houses for a holiday or summer fun. For 50 years I have been looking to my dad's friend and saying "Uncle Ed". It has been amazing to know them. We all grew up together playing in the backyard, in the pool, at the beach and sharing holidays. There were four of them and four of us and we all sort of match in ages also. Like our parents were pregnant sort of within a few months of each other. It is pretty cool.

We were not alone in this pairing either, there is a third family that was part of the gang and was friends with our parents. There are only three kids in their family, but again they were matching within a few months of us. It is sort of eerie but it makes it fun too. The three families have a yearly reunion that is always a blast and the bond is still there.

The families came together in New Jersey and lived in an apartment complex for a few years. Then when the apartments were outgrown we moved on to our own houses and backyards. Backyards with lots of cook outs and kids run hither and yon and babies on blankets gazing up at dad with the camera. I have home movies to prove this, but haven't gotten them on youtube yet.

Somewhere when I hit 4 or so the families moved onward again and further apart. We still were in touch, but not quite like it used to be. Except for Uncle Ed and his family, we saw them at various times of the year. Went to graduations, weddings and funerals thru the years. Some fun stories about things that happened when you had too much to drink at a wedding. Oh boy!

There was a time as we grew older that we got involved in spouses and in laws and such, didn't see them as much. Still there was always a kick ass Halloween party that my one cousin would host and Jim and I tried to make it to that at least every other year or so. Jim and I enjoyed hanging with my cousins and connecting in a different way then I did to my own siblings.

I enjoy the laughter that is found when spending time together. Laughter as we play cards, or pictionary or just sharing a meal. It is a sound that I miss when I am alone in my house and am glad to hear again. There is always the fun of remembering our lives and the events that we shared through the many years. In a big family there is always a variety of things that never seem to be forgotten. These are treasured.

When I lost Jim, then my Dad they opened up even more with invitations to visit and be part of their family holidays or just for a place to get away from the confines of the house and the city. Much as my brother in Ohio has done. It makes me feel good to know that there is a place I can go, even in the darkest of times and find family.

The photo at the top is me, and my older brother (far right) with my cousins. The one below was taken on my cousin's 50th birthday.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Happy Anniversary

We were married November 4th, 1989.

I remember the day. What a day. Filled to the brim with stuff to do. We had the rehearsal, rehearsal lunch, wedding and wedding dinner all in one day. What were we thinking. But that is how the relationship went. We met, fell in love, dated to make sure and then were engaged and married all in the space of 8 months.

I miss you, my husband.

I cherish the memories I have of our wedding day and wedding night. And all the days afterwards. And all the nights that we shared.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The end of the world as we know it....



Swimming? Biking? Exercising? for real?

Crazy! It's the end of the world as we know it!! Chaos in the streets!

It started from a simple conversation that I didn't know was going to lead to a 6 months gift membership at the YMCA. I am swimming twice a week and it is great. The pool is quiet - only a few people there - and I can do the laps at my speed. Slow!

My Aunt and Uncle and cousins gave me the 6 month membership as a birthday present. They did it very nonchalantly "where is the local Y?" My uncle worked for YMCA for many years so I wasn't really thinking about me when I answered, but rather about him.

I love to swim and have been swimming since I was a kid (back in Skaneateles Lake, remember?) and have not been able to afford a membership. I would join, swim a couple months then have to stop. This is great. I am going 2x a week consistently and sometimes I squeeze in a visit on the weekend. I have muscles that are pretty darn sore, but are getting better as I add laps.

Now biking? that's nuts! but a friend got a used bike fixed up for me, again, as a birthday present. Okay guys I get the hint!!! So anyway, I took a trial run on it. Oh my. Yep the expression goes you never forget, but my memory needed to be jogged into place.

I haven't done this as much as the swimming, but am not quite believing that it is me doing either one of these.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Swimming after dark

Swimming in Skaneateles lake at midnight!

My brother, niece and cousins. All jumped into the lake just after midnight. Wheee!

The water was cold...for a minute, then it was okay. It was great just to do this with family and in such a just pick up and do it kind of way. Of course, they were all toasted - beer, beer and more beer and I wasn't (I am a water drinker), but it was still a blast!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Before the end of my childhood

I am vacationing this week in a small village called Skaneateles. It is located on the end of a Finger Lake in Central NY. I grew up here. It was the time when I was still innocent and all was right with the world. My family lived here for almost ten years (though it seems like a lot longer in my mind). I was 4 when we moved here and 14 when we moved out. I think of this as where I grew up. My home town.

There is the feeling when I saw the lake for the first time at the 'overlook'. It is at the south end of the lake and you get just a glimpse of the water nestled in the hills. The feeling in my heart and head. The feeling of home. It made me drive all the faster to get to get there. To race up the lake side road and into the town.

Skaneateles is a very quiet town. One Main Street with the shops, library and post office. And the park. The lake front park where you could go swimming in the summer and ice skating in the winter. The lake is one of the purest in the country and it is drinkable unfiltered and supplies several towns and the city of Syracuse with clean fresh water.

I write this from the porch of the home I am staying at this week. Paul's Cabin. It is on the east side of the lake and it is on the edge of a cliff that drops into the lake. It is magnificent and a wonderful treat. There is no TV. No cellphone service. I can get wifi so I can use my netbook, and there is a great classical music station so I am happy. My brother and family rented it for a week and they will be joining me tomorrow. They rent it out as a vacation home. I have had three gloriously quiet and contemplative days. I woke the other morning and opened the door onto the porch. It seemed odd. There was the sound of wind rushing thru the trees and some odd noise. Oh. Birds. Birds chirping. Living in the city for so long, I had sort of forgotten that early morning sound.

See, I turn 50 tomorrow. The 22nd. It has been nagging at me for the last two years. I have stopped telling people I am 38 (which I have been told I look) and telling them I am 50. This must mean something in the timeline of life. Or in my brain that is keeping track of this stuff.

When we lived in town, it was in a nice middle class neighborhood. There also the families that lived "on the lake" on east lake or west lake road. Those were the upper class of Skaneateles. The homes with lake front property and docks for boats and such. I look at these houses now, after 30 years and am still in awe of them. Beautiful white columns, boathouses and criscraft classics in the water.

I found our old house and gazed at the changes. They cut down the tree! The huge tall pine that graced our front lawn. Branches on it didn't start until half high as our second floor. I would stand near the trunk and look up and try to see who was living there. There had to be someone up there! I recall the winters we would have here. Winters that make the stuff I see now look like a snow dusting. Winters where schools didn't close because it snowed, we just trudged on thru it. The snow would usually get to be about 4 or 5 feet high. My dad and older brother would just shovel and shovel. The snow yielded to fantastic snow igloos and winter caves dug out around the front of the house. In our snowpants and boots and caps and gloves we would play in the white snow.

The new owners (only lived there for 15 years now) added an addition to a small kitchen and reconfigured the back of the house. Other gaps - the peach tree in the backyard is gone. As such the tire swing that was attached to it. The tree was where we would set up our tents in the summer and my brothers and I would sleep out in the yard. Far enough away to be "out" and yet, close enough to the house to be able to run tumbling in when it got too scary outside.

It was fun to drive up and down the street. I think that remembering the names of my childhood friends was like opening a box that had been locked and shoved in a basement corner. I remember Mary Pat who lived across the street from us. I look at their house and the rush of memories hits. Playing Wild Wild West with her. She was always James West and I was Artemus Gordon. She was braver than I was at jumping, climbing or running, but I was better at imagining something to be something else that would work to get us away from the bad guys. Making a stick into a gun, or a bomb, or a well, whatever..and once I told her what it both our WAS that. I have always loved to think outside the box and now in reflection, maybe it started way back then.

Up and down familiar but vaguely forgotten streets. With large trees and quiet almost non existant traffic once off of main st. I checked off various houses I recognized but matching them with who I last remembered living there. The families that lived on my street and had kids that we grew up with. The best was on the one up on the hill. It was a large easygoing house at the top of our hill that had a family living in it that we were friends with. My mom and their mom were friends and us kids were all sort of the same age. That was the house that was just fun to be in. It's my dream/fantasy house. I would love to buy it from whomever is there now. It was like a magic house. There was the guinea pig room, the dance studio (a large room with hardwood floors and mirrors and an echoinglyy tall ceiling. I could imagine parties being held there with a band and men and woman dancing in the slow waltz or maybe the charleston. There is a book out called "The Catch Trap". They have a large house in that book that I imagine to be like this house.

I kept waiting for the police to nab me for stalking or such.

There are lost of snapshots in my head of my time growing up here. Walking the three blocks to the library on saturdays. It was there that I was able to find books. I loved to read, thanks to my parents who also loved to read and read to us at night. The library though, well, that was a special place. They had a section that was all for kids books. The Black Stallion and the whole series of books by Walter Farley about horses. I read every one of them. Many young adult science fiction that I was reading before I was a young adult. I discovered Heinlein there. And The Big Brain, Harriet the Spy, Mrs. Piggly Wiggly and many others. Some of these books I have found again and have my shelves to pass on to nieces and nephews and such. But it started at the Skaneateles Library.

Another snapshot is running through our backyard and the empty lot behind our house to go over to Austin Park. The empty lot behind the house now has a house in it. Sheesh. Austin park is an ice skating rink that was built in the early 70's for the kids in Skaneateles. Before this we would just skate on the lake. My older brother played hockey on the lake and it was just the town thing to do. Austin Park made hockey and figure skating a lot safer. We have a couple hours of home movies of my two brothers playing hockey. Older brother was mid teen's and younger was 6 or so. Quite a difference in playing style. Hockey to us is like football to texans.

I went by the Presbyterian Church. That was the family church and where I got my religous education. Sunday School. Both my parents were sunday school teachers at various times. One year it was the year my grade (whatever that was) got to put on the christmas pagent. I was chosen to be Mary. I distinctly remember one girl sneering at me (i didn't know it was sneering back then) about how I only got picked because my mom was the teacher. I think my mom made her a shepard or such. I am going to try and go to service on sunday morning. Not sure if any of my siblings will go, but we will see.

I know I have been writing a lot but the flood gates have opened.

There is a comforting warm happy feeling here as I sit here on the deck listening to the classical music that my father taught me to love, (thank you dad) and look over and across the lake. Now, over the years, I have been to other lakes in other states, since this one, seen them, swam in them and such, but none feel the way this one does.

I was standing in the public park in the village and knelt down to feel the stone that is the walkway at the edge of the park and meets the water and hearing the water/waves hit the stone wall and remembering that sound. I remembered that sound from 35 years ago. It calmed me. It was great.

My father always told me "don't grow up". I was Peter Pan and wanted to be a kid forever. There has been a lot that has happened in the last few years. But the kid in me is still there. It remembers.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day - Summer is over

I went to the annual Labor Picnic today. It is always held at my stepmom's (and late father's) home. They have a large farm with half of it devoted to a park like area filled with ten picnic tables, a large grill, horseshoe set up, a spring fed pond and lots of other stuff. It's a bring your own food and she supplies the place and the beer.

Not the same going by myself.

I was thinking on the drive home about how Labor Day used to mean it was time to put the sandals and white pants and shorts away. Yet just yesterday I bought a pair of capri's. They weren't white, but I had been looking for them all summer and couldn't find the right kind. These were even on sale!

Things are a little more flexible in the fashion forward world. I bet I could wear white pants on Tuesday and no one would even blink.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


First a tornado, then an earthquake and now Hurricane Irene!

All within seven days of each other.

The tornado hit on Sunday, then the earthquake on wednesday and Irene came on Saturday night.

I have never been through an earthquake before. When it hit, it felt like the subway was rushing under my floor. The floor shook, things fell off of shelves and there was a rumble like thunder.

Irene was a hurricane that hit the east coast. There was a lot of advanced warning and as such we were ready. Toilet paper, bread, etc...the shelves at grocery stores were bare. Irene was brutal to the coastal cities and dropped a lot of rain and wind on us. Trees were uprooted and homes, cars and power lines were damaged. My house decided that was the time to let me know about the leak in the roof. I noticed my office ceiling was dripping and was able to handle it before it became too big a mess. I had to have someone come out and reseal around my chimney. I am lucky in that my cousin is a roofer and he was able to do it a few days later. That was a big help!

Lots of people were without power for days. We had power companies from other parts of the country come in to help out. I saw a convoy of trucks from Indiana moving through the city. I know there were more. Our neighborhood hung out together and many of us were sharing flashlights and food if it was needed. I enjoy living in a neighborhood where we all know each other and are comfortable talking with our friends/neighbors. It is important in times like hurricanes and earthquakes.

Monday, August 29, 2011

August 29

August 29, 2011

4 years and 3 months.

I learned of a second cousin who lost her husband of 22 years on May 22nd 2007. Just seven days before Jim died. We met at a family gathering and somehow the subject of our dogs came up and it circled around to us both being widows. I didn't know about it. We are, obviously, not close and only see each other a couple times a year. I would have thought that someone would have told me though. Well, maybe someone did and it just didn't connect.

We sat down and talked about all the things that had changed in our lives and how we handled things afterwards. I went to a grief counseling group a few months after Jim's death, but this is the first time in long time I spoke with another widow. It felt good to know that things I felt were things she felt also. It was kind of eerie to be doing this while we ate grilled chicke and had beers, but we were able to touch on several issues that had occured and the discussion will continue on another day.

I also learned that she had a good friend who lived across and down the street from me two years ago.

Life is an interesting circle.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Almost made it through the month of June as planned. Almost.

The plan was, after all the things I have done to the house, big and small projects - to have a month of do nothing.

Well, the water heater broke open and flooded the basement on June 29th. I came home from work and heard a 'whooshing' noise and opened the basement door to see water all over. I was able to turn the main line off and with a friends help we used the shop vac to suck most of it up. We filled the 20 gallon shop vac up twice and then set up fans to dry the moisture up.

The plumber came and looked at it in the morning and had a new one in that afternoon. He is a good guy and has worked on the house before.

The project I had planned for August just got done a little sooner. I was going to clean out the basement of clutter around the floor and then start going thru some of the boxes down there and reorganizing the place. Many of the 'boxes' are actually rubbermaid containers and nothing was damaged in the flood.

My neighbor offered to haul anything I had out to the dump and I took him up on his kind offer. Cleaned up alot of stuff that had been lying around waiting to get taken upstairs and trashed. Yay!!

Next week I start going thru each box. Last time I did this was about 2 years ago and I got thru about a third of the boxes. For each box I went thru I did only save about 10% of what was in there. I was very good at tossing stuff or donating clothes and such. Proud of that anyway.

It is tough to look at things that have been around you in some way for 20 or 30 or even 40 years. Some have not been out of boxes since I moved into the house because we don't have the room in this home that we had in our ones in the past. I need to let go of stuff that has been in boxes for years. It's time. I don't want you to think I am in the hoarding stage, it is all together and on shelves down there and the floors are clear. I watch those shows and cringe big time. Not for me.

I plan a couple Saturdays in August to spend a couple hours. I figure little steps and not wear myself out will get the job done. Wondering what appliance is next to go and won't be surprised if it is my 16 year old fridge.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

That place between sleeping and awake....

You know that place between sleeping and awake, that place where you can still remember dreaming? That's where I'll always think of you." — J.M. Barrie

I stumbled on this quote on a friends Facebook posting yesterday. It struck me as a perfect description of what I have felt these past four years. That place where I have put Jim in a memory that is better than a memory because it is interactive. I can talk to him, touch him and feel his arms around me. I have woken to the sound of his voice, because I heard it in my dream.

Peter Pan is special to me because I think my first ever crush was at age 3 while watching Mary Martin fly across the stage. My father told me for years afterward that night I put my hands on the tv and then clapped to try and save Tink. I have a book I "wrote" with scribbles then a pic of Croc and Hook then more scribbles and a drawing of Tink and Peter. Nice stick figures and lots of scribbles but my Dad saved it. He told me in later years that he was glad that I maintained my childhood innoncence and "never grew up" like my siblings did. Jim told me once after talking with Dad that he found that part of me very special.

I am glad we mortals dream and glad that I can find that neverland space where Jim is.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Canvas on Demand for the Win!

Groupon (or maybe LivingSocial) had a great deal a few months ago. A 16x20" stretched canvas print with a photo printed on it. It seemed like just what I wanted for a Jim pic. The company was Canvas on Demand and they did a great job. In fact, the first jpg I sent in they told me it was too small and asked me for a new one. They were wonderful in the customer service department. Visit their site!

It took me 5 months to get off my butt and find the "right one". I wanted something that really showed Jim at his most, well, comfortable. To me that meant, him happy, in comfortable clothes and having fun!

This is a picture of the print on canvas on my wall at work. I can see his smile and remember that day.

Faithful readers you will have to suffer thru this. I may even have posted this pic and talked about that day somewhere else on this blog. Oh well. Too bad.

I look at the smile on his face and remember when this happened. We were going skiing with friends in New Hampshire. I had not skied since I was a teen and I decided to take a big book and hunker down in the lodge with some hot toddies or mudslides or something like that. Jim wanted to ski. He was very excited about it.

He is so, well, Jim in this pic. It makes me both smile and cry at the same time. He has on this bright yellow jacket. Under that is a faux sheepskin pullover and his "neck warmer".

The neck warmer makes me laugh because he bought this that winter and they were not a scarf but like the top of a turtleneck that you pulled over your head and it kept the area from chin to collarbone warm. He thought these were just the neatest things and also bought one for me. Um, yeah. I could have lived without one, but he got a kick from it so I wore it. The ski goggles pushed up on his head and the grin are priceless.

Jim was an all or nothing kind of guy and he was excited about this trip and exploring a part of the snow culture that we hadn't visited before. I think he wanted to meet some snow bunnies!

These little points in the pic are just so much a part of him and just want I don't want to forget. He loved the sheepskin pullover and when it got a bit worn, he pulled the sleeves off and it became part of a Frankenstein costume for him one Halloween. The part you can't see is even better. He is wearing camo pants. He showed up in them to ski in and my friend cocked an eyebrow and wondered about it. But he was 100% comfortable in them and it worked for him. Go Jim!

Here is a shot of us both when we got to our friends house.

Anyway, I am going back to Canvas on Demand to have a pic of my Mom done up like this. They made the whole experience a pleasure. Check them out.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Alas, another friend is gone

It has taken me a few days to be able to write this up. I am very sad to say my dog Tigger died on Tuesday morning.

She had been sick for about six months and in March she was diagnosed with an enlarged heart and had fluid in her lungs. She never really got better. The fluid and coughing came and went. It began about a week ago and then seemed to get much better and then it hit hard on Sunday. I gave her medication but on Monday morning there was pink spots all over the floor that she had coughed up. We went to the vet and they did xrays and she said it was heavy fluid in the lungs. And actually, I had to go to work, but my wonderful friend and neighbor took her to vets. Carrying her in so she didn't have to walk.

They put her on an IV with meds and said she would stay overnight. On Tuesday morning I saw her and she couldn't walk and breathe at the same time. I held her and she snuffled her head into my chest. I cried because I knew she was doing this to get my scent. She had been in this strange place with strange stuff going on and I wasn't around. I held like that for awhile and knew I had to make that decision that no one wants to make.

The vet said that she could stay another night and maybe be able to go home, but the problem would be back in a couple weeks or a month. I decided to end the pain she was in and not keep her in pain for my selfishness of wanting her around.

It has been 5 years now with a loved one dying each year during the summer months. Jim in May 2007, my Dad in July 2008, Mercury in August 2009, Figaro in August 2010 and now Tigger in June 2011.

All my pets were old - Mercury was 10, Figaro our cat was 19 and Tigger was 13 1/2.

I am glad that I was able to give them happier lives then they had before Jim and I. All three were rescues, and all with different rescue stories.

It is very quiet in the house now. And I did that thing that happens when you lose someone. It takes a while to register. At 11pm, after sitting on the couch watching tv for a bit, my unconscious mind last night asked Tigger if she was ready to go out for a walk. I stopped and shook my head. We always went for late night walks.

I will hold the memory of one we went on just a couple weeks ago. After days and days of heat and humidity, it suddenly cooled down for a couple days. We went out for our midnight walk and there was a bright moon in the sky and I lay down in the park grass and she lay down beside me and escaped the city life for a moment and pretended we were back in our large yard all those years ago when we first got her.

Rest in Peace Tigger my friend.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Helping others by what you have gone through

I was sent back down memory lane last night at the grocery store. I was cruising the cereal aisle and saw this woman standing there and crying. I looked around and didn't see any small kids or any real reason and then I saw her clutching the box of Cheerios. I knew. I went over to her and asked if I could give her a hug. Not "what was wrong" but just "hi, can I give you a hug" and she look startled and I opened my arms and gave her a hug. She cried some more and I patted her on the back.

She told me what I had suspected. The Cheerios were her son's favorite breakfast food and he was killed three weeks ago. She said she was okay at the store till she hit this aisle and knew she would never buy them for him again. Her son was in the military and killed overseas.

I told her about my experience with the ice cream aisle and my husband's passing. How I stood there with my head leaning against the cold glass and crying because I knew I could never eat this certain kind again without thinking of Jim. And how all I wanted to do was eat it with him.

She told me thank you and gave me a hug back. We went out seperate ways and I never did learn her name or her mine. But, for one moment, I was able to give her a little comfort and understanding in the walk thru the grief process.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The new Patio

I have this pretty small yard. It is about 13 x 16 feet. A sidewalk runs along the right side of it and the yard is elevated from that.

Concrete up against the house, then some dirt, then more concrete. It's an odd patchwork. I think the concrete further away from the house was put there by Jim's dad when they had hunting dogs. Now it is just a concrete flat area.

The dirt/grass area used to have huge bushes that took up the whole area. When we moved in, Jim tore them all out and laid down fresh dirt and turf. For a couple months we had a really swell plot of grass.

I remember one night after he just did that we were out back and we lay down in the grass to feel the fresh sprouts and we looked up in the sky and saw the stars. I can still remember the feeling of the grass thru my fingertips.

That all died out and it has been a fight with weeds and grass and other stuff until finally I decided enough was enough. I was going to put in pavers and make it into a patio area.

I started digging the dirt up and didn't know quite what to do with it. My neighbors helped. They took buckets and buckets for their gardens. Then came the stone, sand and setting the pavers in. Two friends came over to help me out with this project and it was a project. A shout out to them for helping...I couldn't have done it without them. We started at 7am and ended at 8pm. There was a short break in the hot afternoon, but it was pretty solid work.

It is done, but I am still doing some cleaning and decluttering of things that are in the yard, so it is not "finished". I was able to cook some hot dogs out there yesterday though. I want to clean it up and add a couple movable garden pots to spice it up with some color. It will be nice with some lights and such. I am enjoying the spot.

Monday, May 30, 2011

May 29 2011

I had the whole weekend planned out and it seemed to work.

Sunday May 29th. Four years since we lost Jim. Four years.

I spent saturday with some friends at our local cinema club annual cookout. I hadn't gone in awhile but decided to go and be around friends. No one really remembered which made me sad, but instead, I remembered how much Jim always enjoyed going to the meetings and hanging out with our friends.

Most of sunday the 29th was spent in bed reading, napping, playing with the new kitty and watching tv on the couch with the dog. I can't believe I slept as much as I did, but my body must have needed it. I was a bit sad and very lonely and feeling lost in my own house.

Today was hot. I don't do well with heat and I get exhausted very quickly. When I say hot, I am talking 96 degrees. Nope. I didn't go out until about 7pm and then got so sweaty it wasn't even funny. Today was more a clean up around the house and relax some more. I was relaxing in a different way.

Widows have been calling the anniversary of a death, a demarc day. I think I was stressed this week before Jim's demarc day and now that it is past, I am feeling a bit better. At least not so stressed.

I received a nice note from a friend telling me that he was remembering Jim but couldn't remember the exact date and he was sorry for that. He talked about how he had a keen way of making folks laugh. I like that. He did have a way of making people laugh and a sense of humor that was quite unique.

Jim I am not looking forward to starting year four without you. I have tried these long years and longer nights to keep going, to make new dreams and to see life in a way that would allow me to know you are with me, even though you are gone. Strength is really tough sometimes and this roller coaster ride that is called life throws loops and turns and makes me scream and laugh and it was a lot more fun when you were in the seat beside me. You know how I hate those rides.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Digging, digging and finding

Last week I started a project I had been planning for several months. Digging up my yard and putting in a patio.

For months I have been measuring, reviewing, reading how to articles and researching prices at retail stores, concrete/stone sellers and online.

I have a space that is about 8' x 9'. It is bordered on three sides by concrete. I decided that I didn't want to fight weeds and grass cutting anymore. I would put some pavers down and make it into a backyard patio.

I talked to several relatives that thought it was a great idea and several contractors, all of them asked "why not just concrete it also". Well, because that is not the look I am looking for. I may even stain the back area of concrete to match the pavers. I laughed when my neighbor Rebecca came to help me a couple days ago. I was explaining it to her and she said "oh, they are just saying that because they are men(and they were!) she said that women want something pretty - not something like a parking lot.

That's it exactly.

Mother Nature is not helping much. I thought I could get it done this week but it looks like the thunderstorms will keep me from it.

Pictures to follow!

Sunday, May 8, 2011


10 years ago I lost my Mom. It was on May 8th. It wasn't Mother's Day, but today, May 8th the 10 years after she died it is.

I miss my Mom. I talk to her sometimes and hope that she is still guiding me as she did so well. She was a good Mom and I didn't appreciate her half as much as I should have.

She was a stay at home mom (as they are called today). She had four children and all were four years apart. There is a fifth that was still born. A brother that was never named and I am not even sure when he was born. I need to ask my sister about that.

My mom was great with us as kids and should have been a teacher. Instead she just taught us. Arts and crafts, cooking, sewing, gardening, the joy of reading and how to be strong. That was most important. She was a stay at home mom but she was not a woman that let my dad make all the calls. That is another thing she taught me. To stand equal with my husband, to communicate and to live and love together.

She didn't work at a job - but she was involved in many groups and events in our community. The Garden Club, the after school program, the swim club, the women's club at church, Sunday school and others. I remember her as a strong leader in all of those groups and she was a role model for us children when we went out into the world. I didn't join the garden club, but when I worked I worked well and my employers saw that. I quickly became a manager and the person in charge. I attribute that to my mom as role model.

Mom was very creative. She helped us kids with school projects but then she got into it herself. For Halloween she loved to dress up. I remember one year she had our front porch done up and she was dressed like a witch. She opened the door to this very small girl (maybe 4?)in angel wings and didn't even say anything. The girl took one look at mom and screamed (that high pitch that only little girls can reach) and ran back down the stairs to her parents.

One Halloween when my brother was in kindergarten my mom built the Great pumpkin. She used chicken wire and paper mache' and had it on our front porch. My brother's kindergarten class walked down the street to see it. The teacher loved it and brought other classes down. We lived in a small town and school was just two blocks up the hill. Oh, and yes, we walked there up the hill in the snow.

As mothers do, mom used to tell us "listen to me, I know what I am talking about and I don't want you to make the mistakes I did". When I went thru my twenties, I laughed at that and went on doing what I thought was right and making mistakes. When I was 28, I had an ephiany and called her. I said "Mom, you were right. I should have listened to you." She loved that and told it was okay, I could start listening now.

Mom was a good cook but for some reason it is not her good cooking it is remembered but my dad's cooking and my mom's bad cooking. I don't like that. At family gatherings now people talk about how mom burned this and burned that while my dad cooked a leg of lamb to perfection. Well, I speak up and tell them I remember the awesome turkey my mom would cook on Thanksgiving and her meatball recipe that is perfect and I use today. She had German and Pennsylvanian Dutch cooking from her grandmother. Good food. I remember my mom using the crockpot a lot. When she passed, it was one thing of hers that I got and it makes me comforted to use it now.

Mom wrote something once, in her later years, that was for us four kids. It was a few lines about each of us. About me she wrote -
Betts -
Third child.
Born natural childbirth
When she was born I thought no one else had ever had a child.
Was creative, artistic and a writer, drawing and won prize in NY State for a sculpture for school.
When she was six she wrote and illustrated a book about horses.
Became First Class in Girl Scouts
Loved dogs and taught our dog Prince lots of tricks when she was just 13. She had patience with him.
Hotwalked polo ponies at the polo games. Did it for weeks out of love of horses before she realized others were and she could get paid for it.
Attended college and wrote for newspaper. Became Editor.
In her career she is managing people.

She wrote in a similar fashion about my siblings also, tracing her thoughts about us from their birth (my sister - born while father was in college, a great joy to us and my brother - He came early, only weighed 4lbs 10oz)

The top of the page said "The Joys of my Life" It still makes me cry when I read it and I have read it many times.

I miss you Mom. And I thank you for all that you taught me in so many things and in so many ways.