A short story

Each week (well, nearly) I enter Cindra's word game. Most of you will be aware of this game, but for those of you who aren't, Cindra selects 18 random words and you have too make up a story using them. For more details go to Cindra's blog (see side bar). Unfortunately my entry this week was rejected by Cindra's email system, but in order that my efforts are not totally wasted, I print it here, with the 18 words highlighted.

"It's so unfair he whined, you forget how lonely it gets out here, and I'm blue with cold". I remind him that it was his idea for us to move to Iceland, and ask him "how can you be lonely when I'm here". "Oh you don't count" he replies, which makes me hurt inside, but I don't show it. "we could dance my sweet" I suggest, but he replies "you only brought that Joni Mitchell CD, and I'm not dancing to that", my fault again. "You could put a pair of my stockings on and an extra sweater”, "no" he replied, "do you think I’m some sort of pervert”. "Maybe you could take a bath, I could shampoo your hair" (and cover you in kisses I thought to myself) and we could renew our feelings for each other. But he just laughed which undoes any immediate thoughts of romance. Hmm, I thought as my mind began unravelling, what was the key to satiate my lustful greed? Then it struck me, I told him he was gorgeous, that I loved him, and wanted him desperately but he just responded with sarcastic applause, so I shot the bastard.

Reckon you can do better? Cindra's word game is every Monday, go on, have a go.

I'm so excited

I heard some fantastic news on the radio this morning, the rest of the world probably heard it ages ago, but for me it was new and exciting. There's going to be a Die Hard 4, out in Summer, now come on, even if you already knew, I bet you're glad I reminded you, and for those who didn't know, I bet you're as excited as me.

International superstar

I was due to facilitate a training course today with a colleague, but they dropped out at the last minute, leaving me to do it on my own. I now know what these actors and singers who are stricken with nerves before a performance feel like. I also now know the elation they must feel after carrying it off. Wifey found it quite amusing that I should liken myself to a performing artist.

Today will be productive

I intend to
  • Vacuum the bedrooms
  • Pick up the playroom
  • Fold my laundry (I did the boys' during Grey's Anatomy last night)
  • Put a lock on the "back room" so S can't undo my efforts to get it into order.
Those are my plans; let's see how they go awry.

And finally

This is the last picture from our recent holiday, taken from the cottage on the morning of our departure.

Splish splash

This looks like a small pond, but was actually just a big puddle. The splash was courtesy of Harry.

Rosedale Bank

One minute you're driving through barren moorland, then you come across this, it's quite spectacular really.

Snow scenes

Rock going down our front yard. It's not a very steep hill, but the ice made it wonderfully sleddable. (Is that a word?)

And this is what it looks like when cameramom goes down the hill.

A 6-acre park is across the street from our house. The best sledding was from a very short hill onto a baseball field: The actual incline is only about 6 feet long, but we'd sail on the ice all the way across the field until we got to the backstop. It was great!

(You may need to click on the movie frame to get it to load. I'm a novice at this, so I hope it works.)

Where to start?

Snow days -- The last few days with the boys have been great! We have had fabulous sledding with lots of hot chocolate and popcorn. Everyone is exhausted and happy by the end of the day. Everyone is ready to go back to school, but we really have enjoyed one another.

The last two days, the boys have decided to give mom a massage. Awwwww. Actually, Ahhhhhh. Last night, I rubbed lotion on Rock's back after his bath, because it was so dry. HardPlace happened to look at my bare feet and see the cracks. He asked if he could put lotion on my feet. Sure! Twist my arm! He spent half an hour rubbing my feet, lovingly caressing them and soothing them with lotion. Then he did the same thing this afternoon, because he could see that they were dry again.

HardPlace -- HardPlace turns 9 on Tuesday. NINE! How is that possible? He was only 6-1/2 when Nick died. Look at him now. I gave him a choice: He could either have a birthday party with 7 or 8 of his friends or he could get the Lego set of his dreams (which costs more $$$ than Mom is willing to spend on toys). He chose the Lego set. "Mom, could I have just a regular play date, with 2 or 3 friends? No cake or ice cream or anything? Just friends over?" You bet, baby; you bet.

A few days later, I asked if he knew why I was willing to get him the Lego set. Because I've been so helpful lately. I was startled: That was absolutely the case. He has been cooperative and helpful and really friendly and nice to be with. It's been a delight.

Jane -- Ugh. The doctor scolded her for losing weight, so she has had to go back to tube feeding. She admits that she feels better, but she absolutely hates it. It takes 4 hours for one portion of "food" to drip into her body, and she has to have three portions a day; you do the math. They are afraid to drip the food any faster, so she is hooked up to a bag for 12 hours every day.

On Tuesday, she meets with her surgeon and the oncologist to discuss chemotherapy options/possibilities. Needless to say, the thought of it terrifies her. I am seriously considering taking the boys to Arizona for the whole summer. If she's on chemo and sick, I can be there to help. If she's not on chemo and recovering, it will be good for the boys to be around family. Either way, we would have time to do all the great things that I love in Arizona/New Mexico. I've broached the idea of a 1-month visit with my mom, and she likes the idea. I wonder how she'll feel about 2 months....?

Funerals -- No, no more funerals, thank god, but thoughts about funerals. I was talking with a woman at church this morning about my brother's funeral and how much it felt like a Melkite funeral, and that conversation let forth a whole stream of stuff. I don't know how to organize it, but here goes:

I mentioned that my brother's funeral service felt like a Melkite funeral to me: Everything was so rich and prayerful and strong and comforting. The similarities between my brother's funeral and Nick's are astounding.
  • The elders of the Nez Pearce tribe dressed Leroy in his funeral garments. The priests and deacons from our parish dressed Nick in his vestments for burial.
  • My brother was buried with an eagle feather in his hand, a symbol of his holy office of sacred drummer; my husband was buried with a censor in his hand, a symbol of his holy office of deacon.
  • Elders came from everywhere to bury Leroy; priests came from across the country to bury Nicholas, as did our bishop.
  • Both services were filled with incense and chanting, songs unchanged through the generations. Lots of standing, lots of incense, lots of chant, lots of prayer.
  • After both services, we went directly to the cemetery for the burial, with more songs, incense, prayers, ritual unchanged through the generations.
  • We Melkites asked that Christ grant rest to the soul of his servant in a place where there is no pain, no grief, no sighing. The NezPearce sent my brother to The Happy Place, where he will be strong and one with the Great Spirit.
Back to my conversation at church this morning. M was saying that she was 38 and had never lost anyone close to her, that Nick's funeral was the first one she had ever cried at, that her husband didn't want to go to any more Melkite funerals because they were too emotional, too painful. I started talking and I couldn't stop.

My brother's funeral was rich and deep and real. I was keenly aware of his widow, and I could see in her face and hear in her voice that she was drawing true strength and comfort from the ritual. And her giving of herself to the ritual brought healing and comfort to me, because I recognized myself in her. I don't "remember" Nick's funeral, but being at Leroy's funeral, seeing and hearing Elizabeth's pain and love and prayers ... I remember my own.

When married people attend weddings, they can't help but remember their own wedding. They squeeze each other's hands and smile with tender memories. In a way, they renew their own vows at every wedding they attend (just as we renew our baptismal vows at every baptism). That was my experience with my brother's funeral. The holy mystery of death and resurrection was made new for me; participating in my brother's funeral, witnessing his widow in her pain/prayer, took me back to Nick's funeral and my pain/prayer, renewed my own faith.

There's more, so much more, but I don't know how to verbalize it right now.

Great Lent / Forgiveness Sunday -- Tonight we begin Great Lent, with Forgiveness Vespers. I desperately wanted to go to church tonight, but I started feeling crummier and crummier all afternoon. By early evening I had a raging sore throat, and it was snowing again. I know that I need to be in church during Great Lent. It is a time of healing, of breaking down and building up. If prayer is part of your life, remember me during this season of turning and returning to God.

Don't start

Danby Moors Centre

Did he jump or was he pushed?

I don't do tags

But for Catch I'll make an exception.

A- Available or Single? - Neither
B- Best Friend? - Wifey
C- Cake or Pie? - Both!
D- Drink of Choice? - Jack Daniels
E- Essential Item? - Cordless drill
F- Favorite Color? - Red
G- Gummi Bears or Worms? - Worms
H- Hometown? - 'Ull of course
I- Indulgence? - kid free zones
J- January or February? - February
K- Kids and names? - Katie, Harry, Joe, Luke & Ethan
L- Life is incomplete without? - Wifey
M- Marriage Date? - I'm a man, silly question
N- Number of Siblings? - 1 of each
O- Oranges or Apples? - Apples
P- Phobias/Fears? - Knives
Q- Favorite Quote? - When I met Mr Right, I didn't realise his first name was Always.
R- Reasons to smile? - Kids
S- Season? - Summer
T- Tag 3 people? - I don't do tags, Ive already told you.
U- Unknown Fact About Me? - I used to live in Swindon
V- Vegetable You Hate? - I love all vegetables
W- Worst Habit? - Burping (according to wifey!)
X- Xrays You've Had? - Never broke a single bone in my body (now watch this space!)
Y- Your Favorite Foods? - Fish, Curry and anything vegetarian which is hot and spicy
Z- Zodiac? - Virgo


The lighthouse on Scarborough Harbour. Is it just me or does it sound funny when you say "Scarborough harbour"


Someone, SAVE ME!

Tuesday: School dismissed 2.5 hours early
Wednesday: No school
Today: No school
Tomorrow: No school
Saturday: No school
Sunday: No school
Monday: No school (Presidents Day)

Get me out of heeeeeeeeeeeere!

For Dr John

This photo is for Dr John, for his much appreciated sympathy.

Poorly ick

I have been poorly, I have contracted a new strain of flu that is worse than any suffered previously by mankind. Wifey tells me it is called "man flu" and that it has been around for a while now, I do not believe her. However, because we are on holiday, and for the sake of everyone else, I have been a brave soldier, and carried on as if I am fine. I have had little sympathy at home, it would be nice to get some from blogland. The picture is of a bridge in Pickering. Changing direction completely, I am looking forward very much to the BRITS live on telly tonight.

Three things never to forget

That you have been loved.
That you have loved.
That love is now, always has been, and ever shall be.

Underground, adv., n., adj.

1 : beneath the surface of the earth
2 : in or into hiding or secret operation

1 : a subterranean space or channel
2 : an underground city railway system
3 a : a movement or group organized in strict secrecy ... b : a clandestine conspiratorial organization ... c : an unofficial, unsanctioned, ... a usually avant-garde group or movement that functions outside the establishment

1 : being, growing, operating, or situated below the surface of the ground
2 : conducted by secret means
3 : existing outside the establishment

I feel like I am underground, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

I'm in hiding from other people, in hibernation from my psychological winter. I'm tired, with no real rest in sight, and I just don't have energy to give to anyone or anything outside my little world. I'm moving along -- getting from PointA to PointB -- just fine, just not talking about it.

I haven't "quit" the widow board, but I have certainly lost interest in it. I read perhaps one-tenth of the threads; I post one or two lines to support friends; but that is really it. So I've gone underground there, maintaining already-established connections, but mostly off the board, in IMs, PMs, and blog notes.

Right now, I am enjoying the relative security of the underground. I imagine spring will call to me at some point -- both literally and metaphorically. As tired as I am, I hope that spring takes a while to get here...

Oi Nutter!

The sea was pretty wild today. 2 minutes after I took this picture a guy in a wet suit with a surf board, ran along the top of this structure and jumped off into the sea. A couple of minutes later he was seen happily riding a wave. This is Whitby, not Hawaii.

Base Camp

We arrived at base camp at approximately 2.00pm. This is a shot of the beach which is about 5 miles from base camp. What you can't see is the driving rain and 70 mph winds. But don't be feeling sorry for us we're having a great time!


We're going on an expedition today and it could last for up to 7 days. It could be bleak and dangerous what with the snow and stuff. I will try and use the wonders of modern communication to maintain contact. Fingers crossed!

Forever changed

Life goes on, pretty much as it has from the beginning of time.

I live. I cook, clean, laugh, teach, learn, cry, pray, scream, love.

The boys grow. They fight, laugh, play, learn, hit, love.

Ron visits. We laugh, learn, wonder, love.

My sister recovers. She eats, hurts, prays, heals.

My world is forever changed. But not forever broken.


What's the difference between a forest, a wood and a copse? Is it just the number of trees? who decides?

Images in your head

On Saturday evening we sat on the sofa and watched a reality show where "celebrities" dance on ice. There were lots of clips of them falling over during practice, and at one point Harry said "why don't they wear crash helmets?". I've now got an image in my head of Torvill and Dean at the Olympics, performing Bolero with crash helmets on, and it won't go away.


Frosty and foggy this morning.

You are NOT going to believe this

I missed my flight to Arizona.

Yup. I am all ready to go. All the plans for the boys fell into place. Airport logistics were taken care of. I got the house all picked up. The laundry is all clean (and folded!).

And I missed my flight. Yup. I really did.

I bought my tickets the week before my brother died. And then I never looked at them again. Last night, my sister's husband called me, wondering where I was.

I'm arriving tomorrow!
That's what Jane and your mom were saying, but the itinerary you sent me says February 1.
What? Wait a minute... hold on while I look it up... oh my god! You're right! Oh no... I can't believe I did this.
Well, I guess I'll go home now.

Pierre and I laughed about it. I called the airline; yes, I can get on the same flight out today -- for only $450 more. Uhhh... no, that's not happening. Pierre and I had talked about whether I needed to pay a huge sum to fly out this weekend, and he gave me an unequivocal NO. Jane is home (HOME!!!); it's going to be a long recovery (at least 3 months); and I will be warmly welcomed whenever I can make it out there.

I was astounded by one thing -- and I feel somewhat guilty about it: How incredibly relieved I felt last night. I was positively giddy. I knew I was dreading the trip, knowing that it was going to be very physically and emotionally demanding, knowing that I have practically zero reserves right now. But I didn't know how much I did not want to go.

Were the cosmos working to give me a break? Or did I do this subconsciously? Am I going to be needed HERE this weekend? Or will I be more needed in Tucson at some future date? Or is this just one of those things?

I can't believe it: I missed my flight.

My widoweds are the best!

Widow B called this morning to see how I was doing and if there was anything she could do to help. I whined that I was struggling with airport logistics, how to get myself to Dulles tomorrow and Ron from BWI on Sunday.

I can't make it on Sunday, but I can take you tomorrow.
Really? That's asking a lot.

B has to go from her office in DC to my house in Maryland; from my house in Maryland to the airport in Virginia (on THE BELTWAY, crossing THE RIVER); then from the airport in Virginia back to her house in Maryland (crossing THE RIVER, on the BELTWAY, at the start of RUSH HOUR).

It's not a problem! I'm happy to do it.

I realized that she really means it, that people want to do SOMETHING to help me and this is something she can DO. So I decided to give another widow a chance to do something for me. ::rolling eyes::

Widow M will pick Ron up from the airport and drive him to my house. It's not quite the ordeal that Widow B is enduring for my sake, but it's still a huge chunk of her time, and I still appreciate it immensely. I'm still in awe of what we widoweds will do for one another.

And let me not forget widow R. He drove 840 miles each way so I could go to my brother's funeral, to be here when I got back from the funeral, to hold me and let me cry, to wait with me during my sister's surgery. And now, widow R is flying from St Louis so I can go be with my sister, to help in her first days back home, to relieve my mother from her stress, so the three of us can mourn my brother together.

I love that man. I love my widoweds.

You are all the best.

5 Indisputable Facts

1. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
2. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
3. The things that come to those who wait will be the scraggly junk left by those who got there first.
4. The shin bone is a device for finding furniture in a dark room.
5. Somebody will dispute the above.