Sunday, May 31, 2009

Well, now what?

Today is the last day of May, which means the challenge of posting every day for 30 days officially ended yesterday.

It was not as easy as I thought it would be to come up with something to say every day which is kind of surprising given how much I like to talk (thanks, Mom). It also has not been an easy month in general and I am hoping that June is much better. I know it is up to me to make that happen, and that I need to focus more on the good I have in my life instead of the things that are bringing me down.

I have a new personal challenge for June which is to volunteer once a week. I will be volunteering next Saturday for an organization called Project Ethiopia, which cleans up donated athletic shoes and sends them to Ethiopia. On June 20th, I will be doing a book sort project at my favorite non-profit, Schoolhouse Supplies. I usually volunteer for them at least twice a month but now that the school year is winding down, their need for volunteers is tapering off for the summer. So, I already have two weeks covered, and I know that I will easily be able to find other opportunities through Hands on Portland. I am a volunteer leader for them and I have already been asked by the volunteer coordinator if I would be willing to lead projects over the summer for organizations other than Schoolhouse Supplies. Of course, I said yes. So, this isn't really going to be much of a challenge but it is something that I feel is important and will benefit me as well as the organizations I give my time to.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

My other boys

Earlier today I had a Braves game on in the background while I was cleaning the house. During one of the half inning commercial breaks, a clip was shown in which several fans had been asked how long they have been Braves' fans. I have been a fan since 1988. People are often surprised to learn that I am a Braves fan given that I am from the Northwest and have never even been to Atlanta (well, I did have a layover at the airport on 4/1 of this year, but that doesn't count. What is up with the Atlanta airport not having any Braves paraphernilia?! That's just wrong).

I started following baseball in 1985 in order to impress a boy. In my defense, I was 11. He was a huge baseball fan and collected baseball cards. So, I started to collect them too. In 1985, my favorite team was the Reds because I had the most Reds cards and therefore that was the team with which I was the most familiar. In 1986, I became a Mets fan for the same reason.

I started 1987 as an A's fan. That was a good time to be an A's fan. They had such a good team with Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Carney Lansford, Walt Weiss (later went on to be a Brave-love him!), Dennis Eckersly, etc. And then we got cable and I discovered TBS and the Atlanta Braves. I was still an A's fan, of course, but the Braves were always on so I started to watch them. This was not a good time to be a Braves fan. They really sucked. And of course, I wasn't a Braves fan. I was a baseball fan and they were what was available to watch.

I know that time has probably changed the exact details of how that all changed, but this is how I remember that summer 1988 day now, 21 years later. I was still an A's fan. However, I was watching a Braves' game when my dad came home from work. I asked him who he was taking in the game. He said to bring him up to speed. I told him it was the bottom of the 8th, Houston was up 7-1 (this is where I am a little fuzzy) and they were in Atlanta. He said he was taking Houston. I very clearly remember saying to him "I bet you $1 Atlanta wins." Dad laughed and said he would be out barbecuing and I could bring him his dollar whenever.

About a half hour later, I walked out onto the front porch and said "the Braves just scored 8 runs in the bottom of the 9th. You owe me a dollar," and then turned around and walked back into the house.

I have been a fan ever since.

Friday, May 29, 2009

So much for the strawberries

Yesterday, I came home at lunch to let the dogs out. Since it was a nice day, I went outside with them and wandered around the yard while they did their thing. I glanced over and saw Sammy sniffing the strawberries. Before I could say anything, he took a bite out of one and then started to lick another.

I told him to "leave it," which was really more for his amusement than anything. But, he did leave that one alone and started licking another instead. So, I went over there, told him "no," and shooed him away. He went over and investigated the lemon cucumber plant but found that boring and went back inside.

This morning when I let them out, I went over and inspected the strawberry plant to see if any of them were ripe yet, other than the one Sammy sampled, of course. I found that 1/2 of every strawberry that was almost ready to be picked (all 4 of them) had been eaten. Looks like someone had a late night snack last night when Mom wasn't looking. On the plus side, at least it was a healthy snack. And, it's been a week and I haven't killed the plant yet, so there's still a chance I will get a strawberry or two too.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Just what I needed (and I mean that positively)

Last June, I was at a bereavement group meeting sponsored by Hospice. This is a general group, meaning not loss specific. When we did our introductions, all the others who had lost a spouse that said how long they had been married had all been married longer than I have been alive. I realized I was not getting the support I needed from this group. I post on an excellent online message board specifically for young widows and widowers that is very accepting of those of us who lost a fiance(e) or long-term partner. So, I knew there were others like me out there but I felt I needed to see them with my own eyes instead of only being able to communicate with them online.

On July 4th, I started a group through for widow/ers under 50 in this area. One of the things I have struggled with is where I fit in since we weren't yet married. We were together for 7 years before he proposed and 8 years total but this is not a common law state. So, while I felt and lived like a wife, technically I am not a widow. I do have to say though after the 1 year mark passed, I became more accepting of using the term widow to describe myself. I usually describe myself as "essentially widowed." Anyway, I felt that if I started the group, no one could object to the legitimacy of my widow status. Plus, I wanted the group to include others who were in long-term monogamous relationships and those in domestic partnerships whose relationships are not recognized by the State.

Our group meets monthly for dinner. Our May dinner was tonight at a family-owned Italian restaurant. I really needed this. There were 6 of us ranging in loss time from 7 months to 7 years. The two at 7 years are married to each other and have been for 4 years now. They are such an inspiration to me. Their first spouses are still very much a part of their lives yet they were able to rebuild and find happiness again. I am so glad that even though they are no longer actively grieving they are regulars at our dinners. They fill me with hope.

But more than that, the thing I really appreciate about these dinners is that when I am with my group of widowed friends, I feel human again. They don't bat an eye if I am laughing one second and crying the next. They understand my new normal and around them I feel I can really be myself-whoever that Heather may be at the moment. They give me strength. We laugh, we cry, we ask and receive advice from each other. We talk about emotional things (like donating belongings and whether or not to sell our houses) and we talk about silly things (like how they should all chip in to buy me a GPS so we can expand the area where we eat without me getting lost). I hate there are people out there that are eligible to join my group, but I love them for doing so.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lousy attempt at a pep talk

I had an entire whiny post typed out but deleted it. I felt silly whining about my bad day when there are people with problems a lot worse than a deadline being changed to a time that I did not feel I could not possibly meet, being told I may have a bigger problem with my jaw than the orthodontist originally thought (my head immediately went to needing surgery), and the sprinkler system not working.

Yes, these things suck. But they can be easily overcome: the project was not as extensive as it was made out to be and I was able to do enough of it to satisfy my boss before I went to the orthodontist. My teeth have another 6 weeks to move before we have to look at other options and my orthodontist is trying a more aggressive approach. If I can't figure out what is wrong with the stupid sprinklers, I will just water the lawn the old-fashioned way.

Even though today has me wanting to curl up in a ball and cry myself to sleep, it is not that bad. I know things are magnified because I haven't slept since Sunday and I am exhausted. I have a roof over my head and a job that pays for it. I have two dogs that love me no matter what. I have a great circle of family and friends. My teeth are preventing me from eating right now, but I have food in the fridge (sort of-I need to go to shopping so I mostly just have cheese, pickles and grapes). I have places to go, people to see, things to do. I don't have it bad at all. I am still young enough that I have time to rebuild and still have a great life. I just wish I knew how to make this be enough to fill the massive void of loneliness that on days like today is so incredibly overwhelming.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The first change

As I mentioned before, I have decided that I need to work on making the house "mine" instead of "ours" while I debate whether or not to sell it or hang on to it for a while longer. I made the decision to start with the guest bathroom as it is the room with the least emotional attachment and the most hideous paint job. I set a goal to paint it over Memorial Day weekend. (Actually, my original goal was to do it over New Year's weekend). When I decided on my revised goal of Memorial Day weekend, I didn't realize it was only two weeks away. I thought about putting it off until 4th of July weekend, but my friend said she would come over and help me now since this was a rare weekend that they didn't have soccer games.

So, after almost 5 months of having paint chips taped to the wall, I finally selected a color that I hoped would look good with the set I picked out and the counter. Things that go together are not my strong suit. They weren't James' either. We used to joke that we needed Garanimals for grown-ups. Actually, that really wasn't a joke. But, I digress. I chose Olympic's "Summer Rain." I'm not sure why they think summer rain is a pale green, but whatever.

I had a moment of "I can't do this" while taping off everything. I was almost finished and the song "Photograph" by Nickelback came on the radio. This was one of James' favorite songs. I hear it all the time, being a Nickelback fan myself, but as I stood there on the step-stool, tape in hand, the lyrics "it's hard to say it, it's time to say it, good-bye" were very overwhelming and I came thisclose to just leaving it as it was. I am not a fan of change, but deep down I knew I had to do this to continue to move forward. And now that it is done, I am thrilled with the results. And now I am more determined than ever to paint the bedroom. I stocked up on paint chips the other day; now I just need another long weekend.

I took photos along the way. Here's a sampling of them. You can't really tell from the pictures how truly awful the yellow was.
The Starting Point

So many choices!

We have a winner!!

Charlie helping with taping off the tub

Sammy supervising my friend

The end result-MUCH better!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

The first casualty

My attempts at gardening go like this: I get all revved up to have a garden, buy the plants, plant them, and then they die. We used to jokingly call the little plastic tabs that identify the plant and how to care for it gravestones since I put those in the ground as well. You would think I would give up, but every year I am bound and determined to make it work. Where most people have patience, I have an extra dose of stubbornness.

My garden is only 3 days old and I already have my first casualty. Actually, garden is a very loose term given that I only planted 4 tomato plants and the blueberry plant I bought last year that actually survived Charlie "watering" it for me. The lemon cucumber and strawberry plants are in the huge planters that had very nice plants in them when we bought the house. They lasted about a month under my care.

According to the little gravestone, it appears the beefsteak tomato plant is not going to survive. I couldn't decide which kind of tomato plants I wanted, and since they were 4 for $5, I bought 4 different types. Isn't variety the spice of life? In this case, I needed the gravestones to tell them apart since they all look the same to me. I am a little disappointed that one of them is already on its last legs, but it actually isn't my fault. Sammy stepped on it right after I put it in the ground. I tried to just add more dirt to prop it up but it doesn't look like that did the trick. But at least for once I didn't kill it, which is morbidly comforting.

On the bright side, I stopped at the grocery store on my way to an impromptu BBQ yesterday and they had pansies. So I got my pansies. No pomeranians this time-although there were a couple of very cute men from Fire and Rescue at the store that I definitely would have allowed to follow me home.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Oh, Charlie

In case you were wondering, when painted, dogs do not turn out the same color as the little sample card. It is also not a good idea to leave the house for a Dairy Queen run while the first coat is drying, as inevitably that will be the one time the dog figures out how to escape from the kitchen.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I wanted pansies. I ended up with a pomeranian.

I had a simple plan for today:

*Go to chiropractor
*Go to Wal-Mart
*Go to Fred Meyer to get pansies and tomato plants
* Weed "the plot"
*Plant tomatoes and pansies
*Prepare bathroom for painting

My day started off the way it was supposed to. I went the chiropractor. I went to Wal-Mart, which isn't nearly as bad at 9:00 on a Saturday morning as it is pretty much any other time. Then I went to Fred Meyer (aka Peytons, Krogers and Fry's). I got my tomatoes, a strawberry plant and two lemon cucumber plants. After coming to the conclusion that no matter how many times I circled the garden center, they were not going to have pansies I decided to walk through the store to get Starbucks. Stopped in the electronics department. They did not have the 16G iPod Nano in purple, so I straightened the display of items made by the company I work for and mosied to the jewerly department. The earrings I want are no longer on sale, so I will have to wait. Got my coffee, went across the street to Lowe's. No pansies there either, so I must be too late for this season.

So at this point, my day had been very uneventful and on track. And then driving home, traffic was stopped for a pomeranian that was dashing in and out of traffic. She finally went down a side street and being the puppy mom that I am, I followed. I could not let this precious little animal get hit by a car. It took some doing, but she finally let me catch her. I drove around a bit asking the few people I saw if they recognized her. No one did. So, I took her to my vet's office to be scanned. No microchip. So with visions of finally getting my little girl dancing through my head, I took her home. (I did report finding her to the Humane Society).

My boys were not sure what to think of this. They were tolerant, but clearly not happy with the turn of events, especially Charlie. She kept trying to play with him and he would have none of it. It is understandable since he was recently attacked by a boxer, which I had forgotten about when I decided to bring her home. I am sure he was particularly peeved when she started playing with his ball. Charlie loves his ball. He sleeps with it if I don't see it on the bed. He's afraid of the vaccuum but will charge at it if I get too close to the ball.

As the day went on, I felt bad for my boys. They didn't understand that I couldn't just leave her to get run over. How do you explain that to dogs? So, around 7:30, I decided to canvass the area where I found her in hopes of seeing lost dog posters. It's a nice night so here and there people were out and about. No one recognized her. I got discouraged when one gentleman didn't speak English and decided to go home, not sure what I was going to do with her come bedtime. I was about to turn around when I saw someone outside a couple doors down, so I decided to ask him and then go home.

I asked him if he knew anyone who owned a white pomeranian. He said "yes. We do." I made him describe the dog and then happily turned her over. It turns out she snuck out when his wife wasn't looking and tried to follow her as she drove off.

I am so happy I impulsively decided to try to find her home and that I was able to do so. My boys are pretty happy about it too.

Here's a picture of them "helping" with the yard work:

Friday, May 22, 2009

At lunch until Tuesday

I am happy to announce my day has been rodent-free. My boss said he got another one overnight, however. It really irks me that he sets traps and the mice walk right into them but when I set traps, they just take a new path. Oh well. Alpha Ecological re-baited my traps so in theory, I should live blissfully mouse free for awhile.

Yesterday had the excitement of the mouse and the "we are only here because we have to be" feel of the last day of school. Today, on the other hand, was very quiet as we all tried to pack in everything that needed to be done today and Monday. We were also hoping the owner would close up shop early so we were trying to be really productive this morning in an attempt to make that happen. Sadly, we were not successful.

I had a project that I was originally supposed to do next week. I was asked yesterday if I could get it done today instead. It is my least favorite monthly task, so I was looking forward to working on anything else today. I got it done, and it is kind of nice to not have that waiting for me on Tuesday. I ran into a problem, however. I could not get my two summaries to match and they should. Because I was bound and determined to get it to my boss, I ended up not taking a lunch break. I wasn't really hungry anyway, which was odd. Finally, I found my error and finished the project. And then I asked if I could leave since I didn't go to lunch and there was only an hour left of my day. So, technically, I clocked out for lunch at 3:00, and will be on my lunch break until 7:00 Tuesday morning. Wouldn't it be nice if lunch breaks really worked that way?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Another day, another rodent

I never thought rodents would become a recurring theme, but that seems to be the case this week. And it really is a sign that I need to get a life if this is the best I can come up with. At least today's rodent wasn't at my house.

On May 5th, my co-worker announced that we had a mouse running around the office. I remember it was the 5th because I had a complete meltdown that day and in between sobs told my boss if the mouse appeared in my office I was going home. I have been battling them for longer than I care to admit and quite frankly, I have had my fill. So, after LH told us about the mouse, my boss went and got some traps. A couple of days later, he told us he caught two mice. And that was that.

Until Monday. LT took last Friday off and when she came back Monday noticed a piece of garbage on the floor of her office. She discovered that it was one of those Kahlua filled chocolates, which wasn't hers. A mouse had chewed through the wrapper, put a hole in the chocolate and sucked out all the Kahlua. Of course, we all think it is hysterical that we have an alcoholic mouse running around. I do want to know where the mouse found chocolate though. No one ever seems to have any when I am on the hunt.

This morning, LT tells us she found the mouse. It was in her office in a shopping bag. Thinking she meant a plastic bag, I asked her if she tied it up. She said no. I said "it is going to escape." She says she isn't going to tie it up and that I should do it. I said "fine. I'll tie it up. It's not like I haven't had enough of these little suckers." So, she, LH and I go to her office and she tosses one of those reusable bags on her desk and tells me to have at it. So, I take a step forward, a little head pops out of the bag, apparently jumped off the desk and darted down the hall. Man, can those things move! (In hindsight, he probably didn't appreciate being tossed around like that). I only saw the head pop up and the mouse dart by. We do the girl thing and scream. Meanwhile, one of the guys in the warehouse is trying to talk to LT through our inter-company speakerphone system. We ignore him and go out into the hall. My boss is coming down the hall, looking very concerned and two other co-workers are with him. They had been in the breakroom, heard us screaming and came to see what the commotion was. One of them said it sounded like someone was being stabbed. The three of us are now laughing hysterically while trying to tell them the mouse went down the hall at the same time. Meanwhile, the guy in the warehouse is still trying to get LT's attention. So she finally yells "Not now!" at him.

We found the mouse in my boss's office. He calmly opened the peanut butter and baited a couple of traps. We tell him not to use peanut butter; the mouse likes Kahlua. He was probably thinking he would have liked some Kahlua about then too. Another co-worker is telling us we should have just stomped on it (real life "whack-a-mole" comes to mind). Apparently, that method works. Let's just leave it at that.

Ah yes, just another fun-filled day at the office. I'm really hoping tomorrow is much less eventful and rodent-free. If nothing else, at least it is finally Friday.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Squirrel

My original intention for this blog was to get my memories out so when my mind starts to go (which should be any day now), I would have a place to go back and relive my life with James. I was also hoping that as time goes on, this will be a place for me to see that I am moving forward with grieving and with my life.

I am not sure what made me think of this yesterday or why it made me laugh because it is actually kind of morbid. But, the good news is I am getting to a point where the memories of James are not so painful.

We moved into our first house in July 2001. It was a very popular floor plan for this area; we had already seen a couple others just like it when we saw it for the first time. We rushed through the house. We had already discussed the pros and cons of that layout so there was no need to take our time looking at it. And then we saw the backyard. The park-like setting, complete with a pond, is what sold us. Of course, we would come to hate having a pond in a yard with 8 evergreen trees, but we were naive first time home buyers. Mostly James hated it since cleaning the pond was a boy chore.

By the time we moved in, the house had been empty for a couple of weeks. We took another week to unpack the basics. Meanwhile, the yard suffered. So, we set about to fix it before it got any worse. I came home from work one day and James had the sprinkler going in the back yard. I asked how long it had been on and if he wanted me to go move it. It needed to be moved so I went out to do that and noticed a plant I didn't remember. I thought maybe I just hadn't noticed it before, but I was pretty certain it hadn't been there before. So, I turned off the water, went and looked at it and then went back in the house and asked James if he was aware he was watering a dead squirrel.

This brought up our first dilemma as homeowners: are squirrels garbage or yard debris? An argument could be made for both and we really had no idea what to do with it. So, James scooped it up into a garbage bag, and when it got dark, we drove over and threw it in the dumpster at the apartment complex we had just moved out of. We had issues with them.

That was the only time we had to deal with this. There was one day when we had to drive slalom-style down the street to avoid hitting a bunch of them, but they were the city's problem to dispose of. I have been told, however, that they are considered garbage which is good to know.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cocker Spaniels for Sale

For Sale: two adorable, loving 6 1/2 year old cocker spaniels. Charlie is black and white with a puppy face and energy to spare given that he thinks he's a Jack Russell. Sammy is white and brown with tan spots, laid back and full of kisses. If you respond now, I will also throw in a mouse, no extra charge.

Okay, my little darlings are not really for sale, but boy are they in serious trouble. Lately, I have been coming home to find chewed up scraps of mail on the floor. They have realized they can pull things I leave too close to the edge of the table or island off the table or island. I do realize some of the blame lies with me for leaving the mail in a tempting location. Last night, I watched as Sammy realized he can also reach the top of the dresser. He didn't seem to find anything of interest though.

Today I came home to a huge mess all over the kitchen. My guess is one of them smelled something appealing in the garbage and tried to get it out. In the process, the garbage can was knocked over. And by the time the fun was over, the garbage was all over the kitchen. My first thought was, well, let's just say it would have made a trucker sound like a saint. My second thought was "please don't let there have been anything harmful in there." I try to be very careful about what I put in the trash just in case something like this should ever happen. These little guys are my babies. They are the reason I get out of bed in the morning, mainly because Charlie will stand on my chest and lick my eyes until I wake up.

So I yelled "bad dogs" several times and put them outside. As I was cleaning up the mess, I saw movement and looked over in time to see the back end of a mouse scurrying under the stove. Sighing deeply, I looked at the clock. Seeing that it was only about 4:45, I set down the Swiffer and called Alpha Ecological.

I explained to the receptionist that I had them come out a couple of months ago because I was having a mouse problem and there is a mouse running around my kitchen. She pulled up my account and said that I had signed up for the quarterly maintenance plan and they were scheduled to come out to check my traps on June 10th. Would I like an earlier appointment? "Nope. I was really hoping I would have a mouse running around my house for the next three weeks and I was just calling to share the good news" is what I wanted to say. What I actually said was "yes, please," but I was still sarcastic about it.

She passed me on to scheduling; they will be here tomorrow between 8:30 - 11:30. I suspect it will be later than sooner as the tech called to see if he could come out in the afternoon instead and was clearly not happy when I told him no. I already had to call my boss and inform him that I will be working from home in the morning and I have plans tomorrow evening that I am not about to change. I paid for 8 traps that are supposed to have 90 days of mouse bait each; today is day 69, so I really don't care if having to come here to bait my traps is inconvenient for the person getting paid to do so. It wasn't exactly part of my game plan either.

As for my babies, they seem to be okay. Actually, they are rather pleased with themselves. I'll keep a close eye on them tonight and when I do finally leave for the office tomorrow, I'm putting the garbage can in the garage.

Monday, May 18, 2009

This was weird and kind of creepy

(Disclaimer: I got very little sleep last night so this might not be coherent).

One of my great-grandfathers was named John (Giovanni) Fromia. So was his brother. Original, I know. Their father was also John Fromia. The brothers had different middle names; my great-grandfather was Giovanni Maria Fromia. Originally from Italy, the brothers John immigrated to New York in the early 1900's.

Recently, I discovered the index for Naturalizations that took place in New York. Two John Fromias were listed. Of course, the middle initials were not listed. That would be too easy. So, I requested them both. Friday, I was about to delete my spam when I saw the subject of one of the e-mails was "Fromia Naturalization." It turns out the two records I requested were both for my great-grandfather (yea!)-one was the Declaration of Intent; the other was the Naturalization form. The e-mail stated that the archivist was snail mailing a hard copy as well.

The papers arrived today. Sure enough, it was the same paperwork she had e-mailed me for John Fromia. Here is where it gets weird and kind of creepy, but also intriguing. The cover letter stated she was enclosing the paperwork I requested for John Fromia, and my other great-grandfather, Lionel W K G***. The weird thing about this is I did not request Lionel's paperwork. I already have it. She only enclosed John's paperwork.

Thinking I was ordering records for the two John Fromias, I sent two self-addressed stamped envelopes. One came back today (obviously). I am really curious to see if the other one comes back tomorrow-and what's in it.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

10,000 teenage girls make a lot of noise

Last Friday, my co-worker asked if anyone was interested in going to see Taylor Swift. Her friend had tickets and could not use them. One of my best friends introduced me to Taylor's music a few months ago so I told my co-worker I might be interested in the tickets, but I wasn't sure since my friend's foster son had a wrestling tournament the day of the concert.

My friend said she would be able to and was interested in going so we bought the tickets. Last night we met at our usual spot at the light-rail transit center and set off for the first concert she and I have been to together in years. I can't even remember what the last one was, but I know it was either John Michael Montgomery or Coolio. Yes, Coolio.

I would say the average age of the majority of the concert goers was somewhere between 12 - 15 and the venue held about 13,000. That is a lot of young girls. That many young girls can scream very loudly. And they can do so for a very long time. I felt old, which is kind of ironic because last January my cousin and I were at a Garth Brooks concert screaming our heads off like teenagers.

The concert was very good. She was very entertaining and prior to coming on stage had a public service announcement about staying true to who you are. I think the reason I like her music is because starting over at the age of 35 has me feeling very much like the insecure girls who still want to believe in fairy tales she sings about. I never thought at this age, I would be in a position to be taken back in time to a period of my life I didn't enjoy the first time and really have no desire to repeat. But, as they say (which I am really tired of hearing by the way), it is what it is.

Throughout the concert, I found myself watching the two girls sitting in front of us. I would say they were about 12 and obviously best friends. My friend and I have known each other for almost 13 years, so possibly longer than these two have been alive. I kept thinking about all the things they still had in front of them: first crushes, first loves, senior prom, graduation, college, etc. There is so much ahead of them and I found myself wondering where they will be in 20 years. I hope they are sitting next to each other in the back row of a sold-out teenybopper concert covering their ears in attempt to shield the screams of 10,000 teenage girls.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Heart Walk

I woke up to a beautiful morning, which is definitely not guaranteed in the Northwest in May. I also felt a little calmer and a little more at peace than I have in about a month and a half. But I found myself dragging my feet as I got ready to head over to the waterfront for the Heart Walk, thinking that no one would know if I didn't really go through with it. But I would know, and my wonderful donors committed hard-earned money for me to do this walk, not just lie and say I did.

Somehow, even with my late start, I was able to snag one of the last remaining parking spots in the small lot at the Landing (yea!). The set up was pretty much the same as last year, except they moved the start/finish line to the other side of the parking lot. I could feel the tears forming as I sat in my car taking in the scene. Finally, I took a deep breath and got out of the car.

I roamed around the crowd without any real direction. There were so many people there talking with family and friends and co-workers. And then there was me-wandering the crowd alone like a little lost puppy dog. And then I saw a familiar face-an old friend that James and I used to work with. He gave me a hug and asked how I was doing. And that's when the tears started. I told him that overall, I was doing okay; today, not so much. We chatted for a bit, and he introduced me to his wife. She works for the hospital that was sponsoring the event which is why they were walking. I saw him there last year too, but it was in passing and by the time my brain registered it, he was lost in the crowd. After we finished chatting, I walked over to the railing overlooking the river and just let the tears come while watching six ducks lazily swim around.

The emcee started her announcements, the biggest one being that this year's walk raised about $460,000 to fight heart disease. After the announcements and a brief stretching session, we were off. I took my time. It was so nice out and I was not in any hurry. The walk was one of those where you go down the path and then turn around and come back. So, on the way down, I thought about what James would want for me. Not just the generic "he would want me to be happy," but what he would be doing if he was still here to cheer me on. And I know what I am currently doing is not it. So, on the way back I thought about what is important to me: what can I do to stop feeling like I am just going through the motions and start finding joy in my life again. Right now, I don't know the answer to that but I know I have to stop letting the fear that this is how it is always going to be overwhelm me. I refuse to let this be the rest of my life. I have way too much to offer to let it go to waste.

Friday, May 15, 2009


I don't really have a whole lot to say today. After staying up past 11:00 Wednesday night for bunco (I was the big winner-yea me!), and then again last night to watch Grey's Anatomy (all I am going to say on that is WOW), I am pretty tired. And this has been a pretty long week. I am pretty sure someone slipped in an extra day or two when I wasn't looking.

I am still feeling more down in the dumps than I would like to and I am hoping that is in part because of the American Heart Association walk tomorrow. I am hoping this lingering lull is in anticipation of walking for James with the knowledge that I wouldn't be doing this if he was still here. If he was still here, I would be volunteering for my favorite non-profit tomorrow instead. I keep thinking back to last year when I did this same walk three months after he died and how my friend got sick and I had to do it alone. And this year, my friend had a prior commitment so again, I am doing it alone and I wish someone was going to be there to (figuratively) hold my hand. This current downward spiral seemed to really bottom out when I signed up for the walk, which was two days after donating the majority of his clothes.

On a positive note, I have raised $380 for the AHA. With the economy as bad as it is, I hated to ask for donations but heart disease kills far too many people. And once again, I have been reminded of how truly blessed I am by the wonderful people I am honored to call my family and friends.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

"Just us kids"

There's a video clip circulating around the Internet of Joe Cocker singing (if you want to call that singing) "I Get By with a Little Help From My Friends" at Woodstock in 1969. I realize that is probably not the exact title of the song, but right now I am too lazy to Google it. Someone has captioned it with alternative words that he could be singing. This got me thinking about songs in which I have always sung the wrong words, which is known as lyricosis.

About two years ago, I learned that Carly Simon was actually singing "some underworld spy, or the wife of a close friend," not "someone who would spy on the wife of a close friend." And even though I know the line in "Chatahoochie" goes "in the pale moonlight," I always sing "in the pale blue light." I'm not sure why. I think in my head, the pyramid of cans must give off a blue reflection. Turns out Elton John's Bennie has electric boots, not electric boobs. And, who out there has not thought it was the "secret Asian man" at one time or another?

Today I realized that for years I have been singing Garth Brooks "Papa Loved Mama" wrong. It dawned on me that "Papa came home and it was just us kids." I always thought it was "just askids." I'm listening to it now and it sounds like "askids." I don't even know if that is a real word and I never thought that made sense. Now I know why.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday night activity

Last week while in the depths of despair, I decided that I needed to start planning Wednesday night activities so I would have something to look forward to during the week. It isn't going to be anything extravagant, just something that gets me out of the house for a couple of hours.

Tonight's activity is bunco. This is my original group that I have been playing with for years, and is in no way associated with the mean group that kicked me out. Bunco is always on a Wednesday with this group, which is part of the reason I chose Wednesday for my mid-week activity. One is already planned for me. I am looking forward to going and hanging out with my girls. Last night, one of my friends who lives near where we are playing called to see if I wanted to come and hang out beforehand and catch up because she couldn't make it last month. She has an adorable son who is almost 2 and who is already such a flirt. Being around him always puts me in a good mood. Hopefully, tonight is one of the nights he likes me. He kind of lost interest after he discovered he couldn't pull my braces off.

So, I am off for some girl talk, Grey's Anatomy analysis (my theory is the finale is going to end with Izzy flatlining while undergoing the "risky procedure"), and if I am lucky, a bunco prize-preferrably in the form of a Starbucks gift card for the venti beverage I will be in desparate need of tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chocolate couches, purple paint and an iPod

While I debate selling the house vs. keeping it, I have decided it is time to start making it "mine" instead of "ours." I feel that I am at a point where this is necessary to keep moving forward. Plus, even if I do decide to sell, I could still be here for a while.

I decided to start with the guest bathroom. It is a hideous mustard color with a green counter. I have been wanting to paint it since we moved in, but never got around to it. After we pretty much painted the entire interior of our 1800 sq. foot house in Arizona, James decided that he was never picking up a paintbrush again, so I knew if I wanted it done, I was on my own. I decided the bathroom would be a great place to start because, as I said, it is hideous and it is the room with the least emotional attachment.

In November, my aunt came to town on business and helped me pick out a set for the bathroom. It is the Rainier collection from Bed, Bath and Beyond (I will cry if they ever go out of business). Slowly, I started to accumulate all the pieces of the collection and with the help of a generous gift card from my mom, now have it all. I also have a bazillion paint samples on the wall and now that I have the whole bathroom set can decide on a color. My goal is to get this done Memorial Day weekend. It's not a firm goal should I get a better offer for that weekend.

In the meantime, I have been contemplating painting the bedroom purple (lavender) and getting new couches. I had a vision of pale purple walls and a new purple and white floral bedspread. Then I remembered that I have two dogs and I hate floral prints. I can't seem to get past wanting to paint the room purple though, despite what a colossal pain in the ass it would be. So, I have been thinking I should paint another room. Like, say, the living room.

A couple of weeks ago, my cousin was visiting and we were at the mall. We stopped into a furniture store and tried out all the couches. I found a couch and oversized arm chair I really liked. The model name is Godiva Chocolate, so now I have a vision of the chocolate couches with the lavender walls. My co-worker has assured me this would NOT look good. So, I probably won't paint the living room. But I am tempted to get the couches. A charitable organization came knocking on my door the other day and will haul away the old ones. And we had decided that we were going to replace the couches within 5 years. But, we made so many major decisions sitting cross-legged facing each other on the current couch and that is a little hard for me to let go of. (Ironically, one of those decisions was to replace the couch and love seat). And there is the cost of the couches, which is conveniently just about the same as my tax refund. I swear all signs are pointing to me getting the couches, but I should do something more responsible with the money. But where's the fun in that?

Which leads me to the iPod. I have been thinking about getting one. I have a subscription music service I listen to at work, but our system is too slow to support it, so I am constantly having to stop it so songs can load so lately I have been just bringing in CDs, which means I am paying for a service I am not using. Plus, I joined a hiking group and it would be nice to have something to listen to while walking if my friend isn't there to talk to. An iPod is a lot less expensive than couches and if I get the Nano, it comes in purple. And the Macy's at the mall has an iPod vending machine that I really want to try out.

Ah, decisions, decisions. It's actually kind of fun.

Monday, May 11, 2009

They are called EMERGENCY vehicles for a reason

Why is it some people feel they are exempt from getting out of the way of emergency vehicles? Drivers in this area are really bad about this. This is something that has always bothered me. Several years ago, James and I were out and about and had to pull over for an ambulance. I was disgusted that most people just kept on as usual. I remember saying to him "I wonder how they would feel if they found out it was one of their loved ones and they didn't get out of the way?"

When the ER doctor came to talk to me the night James died, I was told he had been down for 45 minutes. My dear friend was there with me and I remember telling her "that's too long." In hindsight, I realize that what he was probably saying was that from the time the call came in, it took 45 minutes for the ambulance to get there, get James out of the car and to the hospital. What I heard, however, was it took 45 minutes for the ambulance to travel just under 5 miles from the site of the accident to the hospital. (James had a heart attack while driving home from work. He drifted over two lanes of traffic and hit two other cars in the process. Luckily, no one else was injured. What I didn't know at the time is there is a 99.9% chance he died instantly). And, the ER doctor did say the ambulance was there within a couple of minutes.

Regardless of what really happened, to think that it took 45 minutes for the ambulance to travel such a short distance makes me sick to my stomach even now. Before James died, it just ticked me off when people didn't pull over for an emergency vehicle. Now, when it happens, I still get mad, but I also hope to God these idiots never have to live with the sick feeling that comes from knowing it took way too long for their loved one to get medical attention. I don't think it is a feeling that will ever go away.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pictures of Trees

In my post on my accomplishments of the last 15 months, I listed that I joined a women's photography group to honor James by taking on something that was of interest to him. I inherited a great digital camera from him and I intend to learn how to use it. My goal is to some day be able to enter a prize winning photo into the county fair. It may not sound like much, but I am a small town girl at heart and the fair is a big deal in small towns.

In March, I went to my first meeting and quickly discovered I was in over my head when the other women started talking about things like "aperture" and "shutter speed." I have no idea what aperture means and I didn't realize that you can change the shutter speed or that you would even want to do that. I can turn on the camera and take pictures that sometimes turn out. (I could read the little book that came with the camera, but where's the fun in that?) Not to be deterred, I signed up for yesterday's photo walk at Hoyt Arboretum. It was a beautiful day and it was nice to be outside in the fresh air. The Arboretum was very peaceful, but unfortunately, most of the blooms had already dropped from the trees and I found I could only take so many pictures (145 it turns out) of trees before I started to get bored.

Of the 145 I took, I really liked the following four. And I did learn something: when it is light out, you are supposed to lower the ISO. No clue what that means, but it's still good to know.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Well, this explains it

I recently discovered that I am missing a glove. It seemed odd to me that I would take one out of my pocket, but leave the other one. But in all fairness, I have been pretty scatterbrained since James died, so I thought it was entirely possible that I took one out, got sidetracked and forgot to take the other one out. I think I now know how my glove went missing:

(Let me help).


(She can't see us now!)

Now if I could just figure out what the little monsters did with the other one.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Today's memory brought to you by Alan Jackson

I grew up in a household where country music was pretty much banned. There was no discussion as to why, this is just how it was and we just went with it.

When I went to college, I lived in a sorority with several women that loved country music. After months of hearing it come from their rooms, I realized that I actually liked it, much to the utter disgust of my father and brother. I am not a total disgrace, however. I don't like the old school twangy crap, just the modern "new" country of the '90's and today.

One of my favorite country songs is "Chatahoochie" by Alan Jackson. No matter where I am or what I am doing, I cannot help but join in when he gets to the part that goes "I settled for a burger and a grape Sno-cone; dropped her off early but I didn't go home." This is especially bad when I am out in public since, as my best friend's dad once put it, I cannot carry a tune in a bucket even if someone puts it in the bucket for me. James finally decided I am completely tone deaf. (This is why I don't watch American Idol). James on the other hand could sing. He lettered in choir in high school. I never sang much before him. Unfortunately for him, I sang a lot when we were together.

One night, he was at his computer doing his thing, and I was at mine doing my thing. I had my MP3s on random and "Chatahoochie" came on and I sang it from beginning to end. When the song ended James said "hunh. You finally learned the rest of the words." I was confused by this. He thought that since I always joined in at the same point, I just didn't know what came before it. I told him that I've always known the words, that was just the point where I could no longer contain myself. The next several times it came on, or I played it on purpose, I started in from the beginning, just to prove I really do know all the words.

The song came on today at work. Recalling this memory made me laugh. And, yes, I did join in. Quietly though-my co-workers have to listen to me jabber on all day. They deserve not to have to hear me sing too.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Today was a slightly better day. I don't know what exactly happened to take me so far back, but it does feel like I may (hopefully!) be at the end of this latest wave of grief.

I know that although it may not feel like it at the moment, I have made progress in the last 15 months and today I tried to think about and focus on that. Here is what I have accomplished:

* I have gotten out of bed every single day, even though there were certainly days I did not want to.
* When I felt I wasn't getting the support I needed from the bereavement group I was attending, I created my own group that meets once a month for dinner.
* I fixed the drain in the bathroom once and for all.
* I achieved my goal of becoming a volunteer project leader for an organization that I volunteer with regularly.
* I am not a natural leader but I am getting better at leading the group.
* I have managed to keep several houseplants alive for 15 months, with only one casualty.
* I have managed to take pretty good care of the dogs.
* I have disposed of not one, but 2 dead mice without freaking out. (My co-worker thinks its funny that I make sure everyone knows I did not freak out).
* I joined a group for women learning photography so I could honor James by taking on something that was of interest to him.
* I found out that I was in over my head with the photography group, so I registered for a class. It starts in June. I am still going to the group meetings in the meantime.
* I took a vacation.
* Last May, in a week's time, I raised $400 for the American Heart Association Heart Walk. So far in 2 days this year, I have raised $150. In this economy, I am thrilled.
* I no longer freak out about things I would normally freak out about. I just deal with them.
* I spent 13 months planning a wedding I did not get to have followed by 15 months of grieving. I have not completely cracked and I am not being medicated.
* I have realized that I am a much stronger woman than I ever gave myself credit for.
* I have realized that I am very well liked in my own right, and not just because I was a package deal with an awesome man.
* I have never lost my sense of humor. I have always felt that as long as I have that, I will be okay.

And I will be okay. Maybe not as soon as I would like to be, but someday. Deep down, I can feel it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Passage of Time

How can it be that a single day can seem so long ago and and like it was just yesterday at the same time?

It was 15 months ago today that I lost James to a heart attack. Like today, it was a Wednesday. I used to like Wednesday. Now they just mean another week, or in this case another month, has passed without him. In some ways, it feels like it just happened; in other ways it feels like a lifetime ago.

I am struggling right now. Last night, I pulled out the journal I was keeping at this time last year so I could see how far I have come. I turned to 5/6, and found I feel pretty much the same now as I did then. The only real difference is that I no longer feel it is a betrayal for young widowed people to remarry like I did then. Even though I don't feel it right now, deep down, I know I have made progress. I do feel hopeful that I will find happiness again some day; hopefully, sooner rather than later, but right now, I mostly just feel lost, lonely, exhausted and overwhelmingly sad. I miss him. If I really could have anything I wanted, this would all just be a bad dream.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Roller Coasters

There is a theme park in Northern Idaho called Silverwood. When it was first built back in the early 1990's, there wasn't a whole lot to it, but now it is hailed as the Northwest's largest theme park (according to their website). It really is a pretty cool place now. And, it turns out that if you know the back roads, my dad's house was only a few miles away. So, one time when James and I went to visit Dad, I took him to Silverwood.

I would say one of their biggest attractions is the Tremors roller coaster. Tremors is a wooden roller coaster that you can see from the highway as you drive by the park. Of course, James wanted to ride it. I hate roller coasters and my stomach drops just watching this one from the road. I told him I didn't "do" roller coasters and he convinced me I should take one for the team. So, I reluctantly agreed, even though I really hate roller coasters, I don't think wooden ones are safe and this one starts out with a huge drop. By the end of the ride, I was hyperventilating. James promised I never had to go on another roller coaster again and went on the others by himself while I scouted out huckleberry funnel cakes. I highly recommend huckleberry funnel cakes. Actually, I highly recommend huckleberry anything.

A couple of years later, James' brother and his family came up for the 4th of July. Not knowing how else to entertain the kids, we took them to Bullwinkle's Family Fun Center. They had a roller coaster simulator. I thought "It's just a simulator. It can't be that bad." This particular simulator had an option where you could program your own ride. James decided to program our own ride. I thought that was sweet of him. Knowing how I felt about roller coasters, it was sure to be tame. I can be so naive. He programmed our ride, and we got in. The ride started and I asked more than once why I felt I was going upside down. Next thing I knew, I was upside down and screaming my head off. That was as far as we got. I am not a loud person. I often get frustrated thinking I am being ignored and more often than not, it's just that no one can hear me talking. My brother-in-law and his family heard me screaming from outside the simulator. James was impressed that I was actually capable of being loud. After that, James promised I would never have to go on another roller coaster and that he meant it this time.

He was wrong. This grieving process is the worst roller coaster ride I have ever been on. Just when I think I am back to the platform, the bottom drops out again. Granted, that doesn't happen as often now as it did in the first few months, but now it seems to come with much more force. Today was a roller coaster day. I was strangely calm one second and literally bawling my eyes out the next. It has been a long time since I have sobbed so hard I couldn't speak. For the moment, I am all cried out and back to the calm feeling that everything will be okay-someday. For now, the roller coaster is heading back to the platform and this time, I would really like to get off the ride.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Days like today

It is days like today that make me really appreciate what it was like to have someone to come home to. Today started out like any other Monday. I got up, stumbled around the house, managed to make myself look somewhat presentable and headed off to work.

This morning was like any other Monday. We did the "how was your weekend?" thing, complained about how slow our system was, set about our tasks, and complained some more about how slow are system is. Our system really is that slow. And not just on Mondays.

Then, this afternoon, things became unusual. Our server needed to be re-started and was only going to be down for 5 minutes. Half an hour later, we weren't back up so I decided to go to lunch. I had an errand to run and I knew I was going to be cutting it close to get it done in an hour. I made it back with 4 minutes to spare, thank you very much. But, the system was still down so I took my time eating my lunch and addressing envelopes to request a couple of genealogy records. While I was eating, my friend called to tell me that we had been asked to leave our bunco group. This is a newly formed group that basically consists of two separate groups of people that are connected by a single person. Apparently, the other side doesn't like that some of us get annoyed when we start playing over an hour after we are scheduled to start and they don't want us to play anymore. I've never been kicked out of something before that I can think of, and I'm not really sure how I feel about it. James would have thought it was funny though. I am pretty shy around new people and I was just starting to warm up to the others. Oh well, we'll just start our own group.

I got off the phone in time to hear that we were going to be down for at least 2 more hours. So, basically until the end of the work day. My co-worker and I decided that we were going to make ourselves useful so we asked if we could work out in the warehouse. We then spent over an hour repackaging microphones before being told we could return to our regular jobs. Amazingly, after being down for so long, I could still remember what I was doing before we lost the server. And, even though I did not touch any sharp objects out in the warehouse, I still managed to cut my finger. I'm just talented like that.

It may not sound like much, but it was a departure from my normal routine and that is the type of thing I could never wait to get home to tell James about. I can have the conversation in my head, but I hate not having him here to share with the seemingly little things that you tend to take for granted.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Paging Dorothy Wentz

I have always been fascinated with history. I can never remember it correctly, but I love learning about it. In fact, I graduated college 3 classes short of a history minor. I sometimes regret not completing it and wonder where my life would be now if the accounting program had not changed allowing me to graduate a semester earlier than originally planned. Who knows-maybe I still would have ended up right where I am today, and besides, what does one do with a history minor anyway?

An aspect of history that I find especially intriguing is genealogy. After all, it is because of my ancestors that I am here today. I have always been curious about my family tree, but it wasn't until my friend really started digging into her family history that I decided to do the same. Right now, I like her family much better than mine as hers is much more cooperative when it comes to being found! (At least from where I am sitting-I know she would beg to differ on one of her more convoluted lines).

In 2002, I took a beginning genealogy class through the community enrichment program at our local community college. Armed with new found knowledge on things such as pedigree charts, family group sheets and a multitude of places to search for ancestors, I eagerly dug into my and James' families with no rhyme or reason as to which line I was researching. If I got stuck on one, I would just work on another. It is a very frustrating hobby, but one in which the littlest find keeps you going. But some ancestors are much more frustrating than others. In my case, that ancestor is Dorothy Josephine Wentz.

Dorothy is my great-grandmother on my mother's side. The first record I found of Dorothy was the 1900 Federal Census, which shows her living in Ohio as a nurse in the home of Marc and Helen Rowe. By 1910, Dorothy was Mrs. Marc Rowe and the mother of his sons Albert and Oliver. Both the 1920 and 1930 censuses have the Rowe family living in Babylon, NY. The 1940 census has not yet been released; I have yet to find her in the 1880 or 1890 censuses, however, most of the 1890 census was destroyed by a fire.

Dorothy died at the age of 81 on December 21, 1954. Her death certificate lists her parents as Charles Wentz and Mary Hunt, with Mary typed and Hunt handwritten. Her death certificate says she was born in Philadelphia; they say they don't have a record of her birth. And naturally, I can find information on several men named Charles Wentz, but none that are married to Mary Hunt or father to my Dorothy. If I could just verify her parents, I would do a very serious happy dance.

There has been a lot of research done on various branches of the Wentz family in the United States dating as far back as the late 1700's. My grandfather told my mother several times that she should join the Daughters of the American Revolution and we know if there is a link that would allow us to do so it is Dorothy. I have read some very fascinating stories on various Wentz family members. It sure would be nice to prove that I am one of them. Fingers crossed, one day I will get the breakthrough I have now been waiting for for 7 years. And then, I can move on to the next elusive ancestor, Dorothy's husband Marc.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

3rd times a charm, or I'll be moving soon

When James and I met, he had a lease that expired at the end of August 2000, and I had a lease that was month-to-month. After about 3 months, we agreed that we would talk about possibly moving in together after 6 months. By the end of 4 months, we were pretty much living together; I officially moved in with him after 6 months.

He had a small one bedroom apartment and when his lease was up, we moved into a much bigger two bedroom apartment in a complex our friends lived in. In March of 2001, they bought a house. We had never even talked about getting a house; now he wanted one too. Since I was the one who paid our bills, I thought we couldn't afford it. We had a lot of problems with the apartment and the front office and so we knew we wouldn't be renewing our lease and would have to find a new place to live before our lease was up in September. So, we decided that we would look into getting a condo and then after a few years upgrading to a house. The next thing I knew, we had a realtor, a mortgage broker and a pre-approval letter for $150,000. Eight years later, I am still wondering how that happened!

As we started looking around at houses, we made a deal: if we did buy a house, the garage would be for the cars, not storage. A novel idea, I know. It turns out we were full of novel ideas. In July 2001, we bought our first house-a cute 3 bedroom, 2 bath ranch-style home with a 2-car garage. And we stayed true to our pact-the cars were parked in the garage.

Of course, having lived in apartments, we didn't have a lot of garage "stuff," but there was some that was being kept in boxes. Finally one day after we had been in the house for almost 2 years, I decided to unpack those boxes. A few months later, we moved to Arizona.

We spent the first 7 months living in an apartment, with most of our stuff in boxes in the garage, but we were still able to park the cars in there too. After that, we bought a house and once again, everything but the garage was unpacked. Finally, after we had been there for about a year and a half, I resigned myself to the fact we were never going home and unpacked the garage. A few months later, we moved back to Washington.

For the past 3 1/2 years, I have been afraid to unpack the garage. I love our house and I was afraid if I unpacked the garage, we would move again. I felt we had one more move in us before we were done, and we had been talking about buying a piece of property and within 5 years building our dream home. We were even talking about what features the house would have. But even with this on the horizon and seemingly in the future, I still wouldn't unpack the garage.

A few months ago, I went out for dinner and (really awful) karaoke with a friend. When we got back to my house, he asked if I had always parked on the left side of the garage. I thought it was a random question, but just answered that in this house, yes, I had always parked on the left. I did not tell my friend this, but there is a short post on the right side in front of the water heater and given my lack of depth perception, James was afraid I would run into the post and damage my car. He was probably right, and it probably would have happened more than once.

From time to time as I have pulled in the garage, I have wondered why my friend wanted to know if I had always parked on the left side of the garage, so I finally asked him, thinking there might be some deep psychological inferiority of the left side vs. the right side thinking behind it. He said it was because I had something bulky (leftovers) that I was trying to get out of the car and it seemed to him that it would be easier for me to get things out of the car if I parked on the other side of the garage. I told him that I didn't usually have a passenger and usually just put everything in the passenger seat, but I could see his point. I also said, "of course, I could just unpack the garage, and then I wouldn't have to maneuver around the boxes."

So there it was: after 3 1/2 years, I was toying with unpacking the garage. Three weeks ago, I finally broke down and did it. It looks great, and it is much easier to get things out of my car now. But this also comes at a time when I feel I am at a crossroads. I have been feeling lately that I need to keep moving forward-that I need a fresh start. And I don't know if I can do that in OUR home. Plus, now that my social (for lack of a better term) calendar has come to a screeching halt, I am realizing just how big and empty and lonely this house is with just me and two small end of medium sized dogs in it. So, I am considering selling the house and moving into something smaller. But I don't know if I can walk away from a house James picked out for me either. I really do love this house and there is still so much of him here, beyond the material possessions. I don't know that I can give that up; I don't know if I can truly move forward until I do either. And of course, there is the economy to consider. So, I have a tough decision to make: do I break the unpacking the garage "curse" and stay put, or do I continue the "tradition" and sell the house? I think in my heart I already know the answer. And I think those who really know me do too.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bittersweet May Day

When I was a little girl, we would go around and leave flowers on our neighbors' doorsteps in honor of May Day. Of course, being that we had school, this wouldn't always necessarily happen on May 1st-it would usually be on the Sunday nearest to it. We would then ring the bell or knock on the door and run and hide and watch in hopes that someone would open the door and find the flowers. It was always so disappointing when no one was home. We would also hope the neighbors wouldn't recognize the flowers as having come out of their own yards. I wonder if anyone still honors this tradition-hopefully, without "borrowing" the flowers they leave behind.

I took pictures of these flowers the other day and wish I would have done it sooner. These flowers have special meaning to me. They were the flowers that were on the tables at the reception following James' funeral. It was hard to see them start to come up and bloom, and now that they are almost "done" for the season, I am saddened to see them go.