Wee hours

5:15 a.m. -- I've been awake since 3:15. I had a post 3/4 written when my computer locked up on me. I'll take that as a sign that there are certain things I need to keep to myself.

Suffice it to say that there's lots of stuff going through my mind as I head off to Baltimore. It's going to be a wonderful weekend! Don't bother looking for a new entry until Monday.

Love you all madly!

48 hours

That's how soon I'll be in Baltimore for the Widowbago with Kids. Hooray!

For those of you who don't know the story, the first time a group of widders (that is, widows and widowers) from the YWBB got together from across the country, they talked about how they'd like to travel from place to place to meet all the folks who posted on the board. Someone suggested renting a Winnebago to go on a cross-country trip, and one adorably insane widder from New Jersey immediately coined the term Widowbago. Ever since that first meeting in New York City 4 years ago, Widowbagos have been a source of life and laughter and hope for the widders on the board.

Anyway, this weekend, about 20 widders and their children are meeting in Baltimore for 3 days and nights. One of the great things will be getting the kids together (about 30 of them, ranging in age from 2 to 18). I'm looking forward to lots of relaxation and love. And yes, a fair bit of pandemonium as well.

By the way, how appropriate is today's quote from Walt Whitman!

I have learned that to be
with those I like is enough.
-- Walt Whitman

Busy as a bee

Busy, busy me
Busy this and busy that
Busy -- and silly

And on top of all that, my main computer got fried in the electrical storms yesterday.


I feel so unfocused lately. Lots of random ideas and thoughts drift in and out of my field of vision. Sometimes I get excited about something and think, I need to write about that! But I don't. I've lost some really good images that way.

I've been crying about Nick a lot lately -- not heart-wrenching sobs, but gasps of loss, with tears releasing the pain. Maybe it's because my garden is blooming, and Nick never gave me flowers: Why would you want the dead sexual organs from a plant? I've bought you a house so you can have a yard filled with the flowers of your choice. (I never bought that line, either, my friends.) Maybe because it's summer, and I'm coming up fast on the 2-year mark ... just over 6 weeks from now. Maybe because N is doing so very well, and I am so glad -- until I think about what he's been through. Maybe because S is asking to see the video clips on my computer, and there's Nick -- his smile, his voice, his laugh. Maybe because I'm lonely for MB, and missing him makes me miss Nick too.

I'm also muddled because there are big jobs I need to do, and I don't have the oomph to get going on them. That back room really needs to be cleared, once and for all. I've got stuff to do for the Baltimore Widowbago, but I keep procrastinating. And I need to ellipticise more often.

I think I'm simply worn down. Things are good. I am doing well, really. But I am so very tired inside.


How good to be blessed:
To know that enough is good,
That good is enough.

I wrote that haiku for Ali's blog a few days ago. It seemed worth reprinting here.


Not much going on ...
Dinosaurs! Dragons! Oh my!
A four-year-old's joy.

Dang, I'm good!

Yesterday, I
  • Folded all the laundry that had been accumulating on the guest room bed for the last 3 weeks. Of course, there wasn't 3 weeks' worth of laundry there, because we'd been pillaging the pile as needed.
  • Washed five loads of laundry
  • Folded four of those loads... the fifth is sitting in the dryer.
  • Spent 20 minutes working on "the back room."
  • Enjoyed my boys.
Today, I will
  • Fold that last load of laundry.
  • Put all the laundry away. In the case of the boys' clothes, that will mean sorting through what's currently in their drawers and setting aside things for the giveaway pile.
  • Hang with N.
That's all for now; more later, I promise.

Updated, 9:24 p.m. -- I did it! I did it all! ALL the laundry is put away. Except for the new pile that is forming, of course. And the stack that has to be ironed and never will be.

But I have one full bag of kids clothes and toys ready to give away. I also swept the garage. And reorganized the kitchen cabinets: I switched the everyday plates and bowls with the plastic storage containers. N can now help empty the dishwasher and set the table. Yay!


A typical day,
Just Mom and the boys at play --
And lots of laundry.

Moving right along, ambiguously

Blundering along --
No clear destination yet
I think I'm okay.

I am an editor by trade, and I would flag the above writing for having a "squinting modifier," a word that changes the meaning of the sentence depending on how you look at it. Does yet modify no clear destination, implying that at some point I will have a clear destination so I'll be okay? or is it a conjunction, saying that I think I'm okay even though I have no clear destination? Should a semicolon follow yet? or should a comma precede it?

The ambiguity intrigues me. I think I'll leave it.

I had a busy morning:
  • Looked for and found forms needed for S's school.
  • While looking for the forms found a stack of unpaid, overdue bills.
  • Also found late notice for having my car inspected.
  • Paid bills online; wrote a few checks.
  • Took S to the doctor.
  • Took S to school.
  • Took car for emissions inspection.
  • Went shopping at Target.
  • Read the newspaper and had my coffee -- finally!
Still to do:
  • Spend 15 minutes cleaning up "the back room."
  • Take a nap.
  • Go swimming with N.
Find my widowbrain... I can't keep focused on much of anything today. TTYL

Fatherless Day

I particularly like this morning's Thought for the Day from Walt Whitman:
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

I am indeed a multitude of contradictions right now. Eavesdrop on my conversation with myself this morning:

Fathers Day.... Fatherless Day
They HAVE a father, and they always will.... Yeah, right.
Gotta get ready for church.... And endure the sermon about how great and special dads are?
Fr. J always talks about those of blessed memory.... As if I need to be reminded.
The boys should go to church.... And see all the kids with their dads?
They see that anyway.... Yeah, but today it would be harder.
For you or for them?

And there's the bitter, brutal truth.

Updated, 2:51 p.m. -- I did it. Took the boys to church and then to cemetery. I had a good cry after church, lighting a candle for Nick and asking him to be with us, watch over us, help me with the boys.

N was amazing at the cemetery. This is the first time that we've gone and he's really been engaged in it. I have a little book that I write to Nick in on special days ... birthdays, holidays, etc. N actually wanted to write in it, and he took a long time thinking and writing as neatly as he could. S, on the other hand, was a little monster ... shrieking and throwing stones and climbing on headstones.

So, on days like this, I do the only thing I can: Take a deep breath and step gently into the next moment.

Compassion -- n.

1: a deep awareness of and sympathy for another's suffering
2: the humane quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to do something about it
I have received so many compassionate comments and emails in response to my recent postings that I feel compelled to clarify myself. Yesterday, the last item on my to-do list was to Get over "it." The "it" I need to get over is not the death of my beloved Nicholas, for as you have written, there is no "getting over" that tremendous loss.

Astoundingly enough, this widow has other sources of pain and angst in her life, and I've been choosing not to publicize this one in particular. I will simply say that it is beyond my control, that I have to watch things over which I have no influence unfold, and that these things have the power to change the direction my life takes.

Your kindness and compassion have moved me deeply and have, in fact, strengthened me and encouraged me. It never ceases to amaze me how connected we can feel with people whom we have never met, how strong the bond can be. Thank you.

My to-do list today is short and sweet:
  • Play with the boys.
  • Plant some flowers.
  • Putter around the house.
  • Go easy on myself.
Updated, 9:45 p.m. -- Wow! First time in a long time that I've actually completed everything I set out to do today!


Coming? or Going?
The poor creature does not know.
I'm Pushmi-Pullyu.

But I do know that I'm worn down by the WidowRoad: the ups and downs, the yeses and noes, the relief and pain, the holding and losing, the hope and despair, the light and darkness.

Let there be light -- Yes.
Which means: Let the darkness be.
But I am afraid.

Done today:
  • Dads and Donuts with S at his school.
  • Picked up and sorted IB's mail.
  • Read the comics and drank my coffee.
  • Washed the dishes.
Still to do:
  • Take N to see Over the Hedge.
  • Clean the playroom and family room -- with N's help, by gum!
  • By necessary stuff to install pop-up drain by downspout behind garage.
  • Go to the pool with N.
  • Get over "it."

The first day of summer vacation...

Already done today:
  • Read the comics.
  • Hid from the kids.
  • Swept the deck.
  • Missed MB.
  • Showed the warped deck to wood supplier.
  • Went to the hardware store.
  • Hung a swing from the maple tree.
  • Pushed S, then N, then S, then N, then S on the swing
  • Went to the pool.
  • Missed Nick.
  • Talked with one of my widow friends.
  • Pushed S on the swing.
  • Hid from the kids.
  • Cried a bit.
Still to do today:
  • Lighting the coals.
  • Grilling burgers.
  • Eating on the deck.
  • Missing MB.
  • Pushing S on the swing.
  • Watching the boys play in the cul-de-sac.
  • Missing Nick.
  • Getting the boys to bath and bed.
  • Missing.
  • Aching.
  • Crying.

Late in the day

I didn't mean to be posting so late.

Today was N's last day of school, with dismissal at 12:30. Which means I will have no alone time at all between now and August 28, except for the quiet hours after the boys are in bed. Ugh. So I enjoyed this morning and didn't do much. Then the power went out and I had a doctor's appointment. (Poor N, sitting in the waiting room of an OB/GYN.) When we came home, I helped N build a new Lego set, and I talked my good friend InBosnia and hung a new swing on the tree for S. Then I had to go get S from preschool and show him the swing. Then it was dinner time and and and

Here I am.

In the midst of all this, I had to deal with paroxysms of grief brought on by seeing all the flyers at S's school advertising Dads and Donuts, the annual preFathers Day fun. It really hit me hard, terribly hard. I sat sobbing in the parking lot for 5 minutes before I felt secure in driving home.

Sigh... Meanwhile, MB is still sick, and we haven't talked much. I miss him terribly.

A simple list

  • Fold laundry.
  • Put it away!
  • Go to the grocery store.
  • Sweep the patio.
  • Repair ceramic sugar bowl lid.
  • Repair terra cotta planter.
  • Send MB virtual chicken soup.

Let's see... how'd I do? ugh.
  • The laundry is where it was.
  • I did make it to the grocery store... but I forgot limes.
  • I swept the patio.
  • I repaired my broken treasures.
  • I talked w/MB... don't know about the chicken soup though.
  • I played "nobody gets on Mommy's bed" with S.
  • I played "the two little pigs" with S.
  • I cleaned yogurt smoothies off the family room rug.
  • I cleaned Elmer's glue off the bathroom sink.
  • I cleaned cookie frosting off the dining room wall.
  • I cleaned and bandaged a badly stubbed toe.
Typical day in the life...

Celebratory haiku

Wonderful wonder!
Pileated woodpecker
Perched upon my tree.

Running late

Off to volunteer in N's classroom... More later...

Updated, 3:35 p.m. -- *** happy sigh ***

My last day of volunteering with the 2nd graders (until S is in 2nd grade in 2009!); they are a sweet and loving group, and I so like N's teacher. She unfailingly looks out for N and makes me feel good about myself as a parent and as a help in the classroom. Let's hear it for the teachers who have made a difference in people's lives.

Later, N and I went to counseling: We are both so happy with how we are getting along. It's just amazing. And the counselor -- who just a few months ago was saying she couldn't break through to him -- is thrilled with him and me and the progress. In fact, our next session isn't until the end of July.

I've decided not to stress about finding a camp or other special program for N. S will still be in preschool 3 days a week through the summer, and N and I will simply enjoy that time together. He and I need that time together. I'm really looking forward to it: bike rides, bowling, movies... things we can't do very easily with a little guy.

Before I go pick up S today, I am determined to accomplish something in the legendary back room. And I need to run a few loads of laundry. I'd better get busy.

Hope all is well with my Faithful Four. MB is sick -- sore throat, fever, coughing -- so send good thoughts his way.


Just remembered

I just remembered
I have Four Faithful Readers
waiting for my words.

With nothing to say --
earth-shattering or boring --
I'll just say hello.

A nod to friend B,
whose post today inspired me
to write in Haiku.

Motivate Me

What good does it do me to wax poetic about contentment and catharsis, death and resurrection -- if my house is disintegrating around me? What good does having a lovely backyard do me, if I shudder when I walk in the door? An excerpt from the inaugural entry of this blog:
So why this blog? I need motivation. It is so hard to make myself do things around the house ... I plan to post a list every morning of the things I want to accomplish that day, and then report back -- even if only to myself... just the IDEA that someone might read this and see how far short I've fallen of my goals for the day is enough to get me moving.

Yesterday, I vacuumed the family room and up the stairs to the front door and playroom, but that was really about all I accomplished. I need to get back on track. Today --
  • I WILL clean my room (yes, my room).
  • I WILL wash the kitchen floor.
  • I WILL spend 15 minutes working on the mythical "back room" -- and I will latch the door so that S doesn't promptly undo whatever I manage to accomplish.
  • I WILL take both boys on a nice long walk on this gorgeous day that bridges spring and summer.
I will also remember my contentment and hum lines of gratefulness while I work. If I can delight in the physical labor of the garden, I should also be satisfied with the results of elbow grease indoors.

I ask this of my Four Faithful Readers: Motivate me!

But first: My coffee and comics!

Updated, 11:15 p.m. -- Oh well. Maybe next time. I did clean my bedroom, putting away various piles of clothes and laundry. But the boys decided that my room was the only place "big enough" to have a picnic. By "big enough," read "with enough visible floor space."

After cleaning my room, I got inspired to go outside and do some maintenance on my patio... How hard can it be to sweep sand into the cracks to replace what has settled and washed away? It's a very tedious and time consuming job. (And while I was doing that, the boys took pop-tarts, tortillas, life-savers, graham crackers, and juice up to my room. **** Sigh **** )

But the kitchen floor is still dirty and the "back room" never got touched. I'll do better next time.

Two Quiet Days: 2

Yesterday was such a good day: I relaxed by working my buns off in the yard. I finished laying the walkway along the back of the garage. I had to stop because I've reached the place where I want to dig a trench and install a pop-up drain from the gutter, instead of having a big ugly black pipe snaking across the ground. Until I get to the hardware store to buy what I need for that little project, I'll start from the opposite corner of the garage, moving huge cement blocks that are too awkwardly spaced to be a stepping stone path. I'll be prying each one out of the ground with a crowbar and shoving it over to make a nice walkway. I'm going to need more mulch -- I knew that when I ordered only 3 yards, but I couldn't bring myself to order 4 yards!

N continues to heal and blossom. I can't tell you how the return of his sparkle brings healing to my spirit. He's actually joking with me, teasing me, goading me into kissing him -- and of course, part of the play in our interaction is his resistance to those kisses. We have been enjoying each other so very much. He's still an 8YO with attitude and lip, but at least there's not an undercurrent of buried anger and hostility.

I've got a housecleaning day today: vacuuming, bathrooms, the kitchen floor, etc. etc. etc. And, oh yes -- laundry!


Photo tour

This is the shady nook outside my family room.
The original broken flagstone has been replaced with pavers.
Mother and I pulled all the deadwood out from the forsythia hedge.
We planted four large nandina plants to cover the bare wood of the forsythia undergrowth.
I put tuberous begonias in pots between the nandinas.

This is what the shady nook looks like from the deck above.

This is the view from the nook to the area that I am reclaiming behind the garage. When we moved in 3 years ago, the area was hardpan, with weeds and thistles. The vinca groundcover was overrun with weeds and small trees that had been allowed to sprout and grow to saplings. I've gotten rid of all the weed-trees and am slowly weeding through the vinca. I have been using the pavers from the original patio behind the family room to build a smooth walkway, with mulch to keep down the weeds.

I've decided to do a container garden in this space, because the soil is poor, and the network of tree roots would make it untillable. You see a container with hanging tomatoes (topped off with petunias), a white pot with geraniums, and a whiskey barrel with bell peppers and marigolds. Next year I'll add one or two more whiskey barrels with more vegetables and flowers. I wonder if raspberries will grow in a barrel?

This fun shot of HardPlace in the sprinkler shows my front garden. I had the raised bed built to hide the ugly roots of the linden tree on my neighbor's hill. I look down on that bed from my kitchen window about 100 times a day, and the bright flowers always make me smile.

Notice the mulch pile: down to about 1 cubic yard from the original 3 that I'd had delivered.

Yesterday I talked about contentment. I'm not the only contented soul at 1 Pentha Court. I took this photo of Ron on my deck when he was here over Memorial Day weekend. (He's less-than-content now that he's 800 miles away again.)

Two Quiet Days: 1

S is usually in school M-W-F, but he has a field trip today, so he's in school M-Th-F this week. That may not sound like a big change, but it means I get two days in a row TO MYSELF. Wow. I honestly cannot remember the last time that happened.

So I --
  • dropped the little guy off
  • went to the grocery store for milk and orange juice
  • enjoyed a quiet cup of coffee while reading my comics
  • watered my garden
  • randomly pulled a few weeds
  • chatted w/some widder friends online
And now I'm gearing up for the day. I have to
  • post photos of my back yard
  • relax
  • post info/questions about the Baltimore bago on the board
  • relax
  • lay another paver or two
  • relax
  • take a nap
Did I mention that I plan to relax today?

I've mentioned elsewhere that the new owners of the house next door plan to run an in-home daycare. Ugh. I've written a very nice letter to the homeowners assocation, simply asking them to look into some concerns I have about liability, fencing, licensing requirements, etc. I don't want to set up an adversarial relationship with my neighbors before they even move in, but I also don't want my backyard sanctuary disrupted with the noises, toys, and play equipment of a dozen small children (that's how many she has at her current residence). I was very careful not to mention eyesores and noise, because that is strictly a personal opinion. Anyway... I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that my fears don't materialize.

On with my day... ttyl.

Contentment -- n.

Happiness with one's situation in life

Can that be what I feel? Contented?

It's not that I have everything I want in my life, but I love what I do have. And I am happy.

Yesterday was a lovely day with S ... We played together; he let me clean house a bit; he splashed in the pool while I worked in the yard. N went to a friend's house for dinner, so after I dropped him off, S and I went to the local pizza joint and ate spaghetti. It was a day of simple pleasures.

This morning a neighbor came over for coffee with her 4YO. Our two boys played so well together and she and I were actually able to sit on the deck, drink our coffee, and catch up with each other.

Now, my kitchen is clean, the family room is picked up, and I'm getting ready for a rousing round of dinosaurs and dragons (and pickup trucks! a new addition to the game).

Another entry on dictionary.com, one that I'm going to have to reflect on...

Contentment -- n.

A state of mind in which one's desires are confined to his lot whatever it may be (1 Tim 6:6; 2 Cor 9:8).

It is opposed to envy (James 3:16), avarice (Heb 13:5), ambition (Prov 13:10), anxiety (Matt 6:25, 34), and repining (1 Cor 10:10).

It arises from the inward disposition, and is the offspring of humility, and of an intelligent consideration of the rectitude and benignity of divine providence (Ps 96:1, 2; 145), the greatness of the divine promises (2 Pet 1:4), and our own unworthiness (Gen 32:10); as well as from the view the gospel opens up to us of rest and peace hereafter (Rom 5:2).

Source: Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary

Contentment: Something greatly to be desired, and perhaps something that cannot be attained by any act of will, but only by gracious acquiescence to the unfolding of the universe.

I've just encountered a stunning example of synchronicity: After I posted this entry, I remembered that I had not updated my Thought for the Day, so I went to retrieve the daily offering from my favorite quotation site:
He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. -- Epictetus

Feeling wretched

I'll be brief:

Yesterday evening, I got hit by a stomachache with wave of nausea and I was all shaky. The boys had cereal for dinner. MB provided solace over the phone. The nausea passed, but I felt awful and went to bed with the boys.

This morning, my tummy is fine, but I have a raging headache.

I'm not putting anything on my to-do list, and if I do accomplish something today, I get bonus points.


Updated, 9:15 a.m. -- Phew, the Aleve has kicked in and my headache is almost gone. Thank goodness. So today will be a day of laundry and finances ... and riding herd on S.

Just a quick hello

before I dash off to start my busy busy day. We've got wonderful weather, and I plan to enjoy as much of it as I possibly can!


The Faithful Four have spoken

... so I'll make a quick post before heading off to church.

It's a gorgeous day, with bright blue skies. After a few days of rain, the humidity is down, so when we get back from church, I'm putting on my grubbies and getting my hands really dirty in the garden.

TTYL. Love you all madly.

Updated, 8:30 p.m. -- an eminently satisfying day: I lay four more slate pavers behind the garage. This means nothing to you, I know, but where once there was nothing but hardpan dirt and intractable weeds, there is the beginning of a rustic walkway mulched on either side, with green and growing things in pots. I'm really pleased with how it's turning out. Pictures when I'm done, I promise. (I also trespassed onto my neighbor's property, because the new owners haven't moved in yet, and hacked down massive weeds that were starting to flower. I do NOT want those seeds headed my way.)

Church was lovely. N continues to open and shine again. It is so good to see the spark come back to his smile.

Tomorrow is a busy day: Field Day at the elementary school, which means all-day track and field events. I've promised to help out in the morning. Then I have some shopping to do.

Thanks for being with me, my friends.

Get a life!

I can't help but notice that the counter in the sidebar keeps going up up up. Even on days like today, when it's nearly 4:30 in the afternoon, and I have posted absolutely nothing. Some people -- who shall remain nameless, but who go by the initials M B -- give me grief for not posting anything on my lazy days.

I put it to you, my Four Faithful Readers:

Should I post something every day, just to say hi?
Yes, that way I stop checking every hour!
No, that would be a waste of my bandwidth.
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Blue Friday

This happens every time MB and I part company: I get the blue-blahs. Just don't feel like doing a damned thing. And it doesn't help that it took me an hour to figure out that the reason I couldn't get the coffeemaker he left behind to work is that I didn't have all the pieces in place. Grrrrrr.

Even so, thus far today I have --
  • Gotten the boys off to school.
  • Dropped things off at the dry cleaner.
  • Returned videos on time!!
  • Picked up IB's mail.
  • Gone to the grocery store.
  • Frittered away time on the widow board.
What else should I do today?
  • Sweep 2 cups of lentils off the playroom floor.
  • AFTER I find the playroom floor, that is.
  • Change the sheets on everyone's bed ... time to put away the flannel.
  • Go through IB's mail, so I can let her know what she needs to tend to.
  • Take a nap... yeah, that's it! I should take a nap!

Updated, 8:32 p.m. -- Hey, I did pretty well with my list:
  • I found the playroom floor and swept up the lentils.
  • AND I moved the dinosaurs and dragons from the living room back into the playroom
  • AND swept the living room floor
  • AND vacuumed the sofa and comfy chair in the family room -- the pillows had been strewn about, so I grabbed the moment
  • I changed the sheets on MY bed... and I'm the only one who counts, right?
  • I took a lovely nap (on the flannel sheets in the guestroom)
I haven't gone through IB's mail yet, but she's In Bosnia, so she's asleep right now; if I do it before bedtime, she'll wake up to find an email from me telling her what arrived this week.

AND I had lovely phone conversations with both my mom and sister.

I still miss MB, but I don't feel so blue.


MB is leaving today.

'Nuff said.

Updated, 10:20 p.m. -- Ben & Jerry, where are you? I guess it's a good thing they're nowhere to be found, because I could eat a whole pint in one sitting right now.

I've been missing MB all day, so I've accomplished nothing in the house.
I wrote a final entry in my chronicle of Nick's death, and then I went back and looked at all the photos.
I've been missing MB.
I've been missing Nick.