What is wrong with me?

Two fires. Two losses. Two reactions.

A little girl died in a fire in Washington, DC, over the weekend. Her mother was carrying her on her back, but she slipped off as her mom jumped out the window. I sighed as I read the first few paragraphs on the post website, and then I clicked to the next semi-interesting headline.

Half of historic Eastern Market in Washington was gutted in a fire last night, with heavy damage to other sections. I saw the headline, gasped "oh no!" and read every word of the article.

What is wrong with me that I was more distressed at the damage to a building than at the death of a child? Have I become so inured to death, that one more makes no impact? Is that child's death of little value to me because I did not know her? Because she lived in poverty, in a side of town I stay away from?

Eastern Market is a wonderful place, the last of the traditional marketplaces in DC, part flea market, part food market, part arts and music wonderland. Nick's cousin has a pottery studio there; N has spent hours with her making his own pots and sculptures. It is a great place to go on Saturday morning, a fun place to be.

But it's a building. Not a living breathing human being. I have no doubt that the city will spend a bazillion dollars to rebuild Eastern Market -- it even has its own Metro Station. I have no doubt that patrons will contribute big bucks to restore Eastern Market. I have no doubt that it will again be a bustling center of activity. I have no doubt that local journalists will write columns about the building; that city bigwigs will reminisce quite publicly about the historic building.

But who will remember the little girl who slipped off her mother's back? Who, other than her family, will reminisce about her too-short life? Even I don't remember her name anymore. I have to search the website to find the article. Asia. Her name was Asia Sutton.

Woo hoo

This is the woo hoo tunnel. Because it has a great echo, we all shout woo hoo as we go through it.

This weeks big thing

For those of you who thought the new album by the Arctic Monkeys was this weeks big event, think again. Tomorrow is the Eugene Hope Fest 2007 organised by Cindra and Tom. I will be wearing my Eugene Hope Fest 2006 t shirt in honour of the event. We send our best wishes, and hope everything goes off as it should. More info here:-

Time for a Ron-deja vu

I'm heading off to the place where Ron and I first met. And so is he. ::Grin:: And the boys are NOT coming with me. ::Bigger Grin::

For the next 6 hours, he and I will be barreling toward each other at around 130 mph. ::HUGE grin:: Sunday is going to come all too soon. ::pout::


Came across this little stream whilst wandering through the woods, as you do.

Samaha means "forgiveness"

The parents of Reema Samaha were on national television a few times last week. At the huge public memorial service for their daughter, Joey Samaha said,
Samaha means "forgiveness." We are a Christian people, and God calls us to forgiveness. We extend our deepest condolences to the Cho family, for they have lost a son and they too are in mourning.
I have been thinking about those words all week. Wondering how the parents of a shining young woman can extend forgiveness to her murderer, compassion to his family. And then it hit me.

Mr. Samaha was right: God calls us to forgiveness. God forgives us. We are called to forgive one another. That is close to the heart of our faith. I have no doubt that Reema Samaha has already forgiven Seung Hui Cho for the violence done to her; and if she can forgive him, how can her family not?

After making that leap, the next step in thinking was clear: If Reema can forgive Seung Hui for taking her life, how can I hold on to the resentment and bitterness that I have toward people in my life?

Forgiveness. Samaha means forgiveness.

On reflection

Guess who?

Please, God

Yes, I know this has the same title as yesterday's post. Below is an expansion of what I wrote yesterday. Deal with the redundancy.

The stage version of The Year of Magical Thinking differed from the book in that the adaptation was written after the author’s daughter had died. Yes, the grief for her husband was terrible, yes she wanted him back. But oh, the anguish of watching her daughter die! I can’t imagine the depths of her pain.

I watched Reema grow up, and now she is dead. I saw her youth, her fire, her vitality, and now she is dead. If my hurt is so great, my tears so many — how much more must her parents be enduring?

I started sobbing in the parking lot outside the church yesterday, after the funeral was over. I knew what was happening in the church. I knew that the family was saying their last goodbyes to their beautiful daughter. I knew Reema's mother was kissing her one more time; that her father was stroking her face one more time.

I remember the anguish of burying my face in Nick’s, begging him to save me a place at the banquet table. I don’t think I could bear having to close the casket on one of my children. My most fervent prayer is that I never have to find out.

Mark Ronson - Stop Me

I'm listening to it, you might as well too.

Please, God

I have buried my father.
I have buried my husband.
I have buried my brother.

I cannot begin to fathom the pain of burying a child. Please, God, I pray I never have to know what that is like.

Road trip

The boys and I are headed to Daylesford Abbey in Pennsylvania for the night, where I will spend time with my spiritual director. Father Andrew married Nick and me, baptized HardPlace, and preached at Nick's ordination to the diaconate... He never thought he would also preach at Nick's funeral. But he did, and his words that day move me still. I so look forward to seeing him.

Tomorrow, we're heading up to New Jersey; I'll leave the boys with a friend's babysitter, then she and I will head into New York City. We will see Vanessa Redgrave in the one-woman production of The Year of Magical Thinking. Then we'll go out to dinner -- about 25 widoweds for the play and dinner.

Sunday, we come home. Monday is Reema's funeral.

If you are a praying person...

Please pray for a young woman named Adrian.

She and her cousin Reema were born on the same day; they grew up more as sisters than as cousins. I watched them BOTH grow up, in Sunday School and the children's choir, at haflis and food festivals. Adrian is falling apart in the wake of Reema's murder; aside from the grief they feel about their niece's death, Adrian's parents are terribly worried about her. They basically have her on a suicide watch.

If you pray, please, please pray for this heartbroken young woman, for all of Reema's family, for all of us who love them...

Great Falls, revisited

Do you remember this movie, taken just 2 weeks ago?

Play it again, just to refresh your memory.

Now, look at THIS one!

DC National Airport recorded 2-1/2 inches of rain over the weekend, which doesn't sound like much. But when you multiply that by the nearly 16,000 square miles of the Potomac River watershed ... That's a LOT of water.

This one blows me away.

If you pause at second 25, you will see an outcropping of rock, surrounded by rushing water. Two weeks ago, the boys and I climbed those rocks. The land to the right was just that: Dry land. Wow.

WHAT is going on here?

Capricorn: You're getting better at reading the road map of life. No, not better at avoiding the twists and turns, mind you, but you're chuckling a little louder, assimilating a little deeper.

I don't know where to begin in explaining how on target this feels.

This is my shed at the bottom of my garden, most houses round here have a shed, the duck however, is optional.

And TODAY's horoscope

Capricorn: The mixture of hope and healing you're experiencing is a pleasant side effect of your self-care. Your primary relationship honors this burgeoning tenderness.

I'm really liking this. ::grin::

My computer desk

I've been tagged by Catch to show my workspace, so here it is. Those of you with a keen eye will notice The Art of Knitting binder, the bottle of beer (you didn't think I blogged sober did you?) and the serving hatch. Other than that, it's the same as everyone else's isn't it?

The other half

This is Normanby Hall, in the top picture you can see the chandelier lights are on, and you could also see the staff in their crisp black and white uniforms. At 9.30am I guess they were serving up breakfast. Maybe Lozman could see if they've got a spare room or two.

Struggles, part three

My life. No, that's not it.
My future. No...
My heart.

Yes. My heart.

My broken aching sobbing throbbing heart.
My tender loving pounding hoping heart.

It should be no surprise to anyone here that I really love Ron so very much. He has been particularly WONDERFUL these last few months, after my brother's death and during my sister's illness. If the measure of a man is how he handles a crisis, Ron more than measures up.

We talk about a future together, seriously talk about it. And it fills me with such hope and happiness. And then it makes me fearful -- so afraid of making a bad decision, one that affects not just me but the boys as well. One widow on the board recently posted about having remarried and now regretting her haste. That thread made me push all kinds of panic buttons. One response really describes things well for me:
We do evolve during this process and it takes time. It is so hard to be patient when we want to feel better. I am with a great guy now but am taking it very slow. I want to make sure it isn't the grief talking. As tempting as it is to just move ahead and tie up my life in a neat little bow.

I am so afraid of letting grief do all the talking; I so want to move ahead and be DONE with it all.

But the truth is, I'm not done with it all; and we widows all know that in some ways, we'll never be done with it all. My brother's death -- and the prospect of my sister's death -- has taken me back to square one with some of this grief stuff. I have been wanting Nick and missing him so much lately. I have been crying so much lately. I have been grieving so much lately.

And Ron has been wonderful... he understands, he knows, he loves. We aren't doing anything in haste. We are both doing the grieving that we need to do. It's just so damned hard. And I am so very very tired.

Today's horoscope

Capricorn: Contentment is a meditative break, or picking up the pen and putting words to your experience. Attempting to capture this elusive peacefulness brings countless hours of creative joy. A relationship is renewed.

I don't really pay much attention to the daily horoscope, but every once in a while, it jumps off the page at me. The first two sentences describe me to a tee. And today I am cleaning house to prepare for the arrival of a dear friend from college.

Maybe the stars are lining up for me after all.

Show off

Had a great day out today at Normanby Hall, especially nice to see a couple of Jays building a nest and a Green Woodpecker. The Peacock was also out to impress. Will post more photos throughout the week.


One day I will be in the right place at the right time to get some amazing crashing wave shots. In the mean time I'll make do with this.

7-1/2 weeks

Seven and a half weeks sounds like a loonnng time. Fifty-five days.

That's how long the boys and I will be in Arizona; I made our reservations today.

(Note: kayak.com is the best site for finding the cheapest airfares.)

Hmmmm.... maybe it is too long. But I don't think so. The boys and I will make at least three road trips -- to the Grand Canyon, to Santa Fe and Bandelier, and to San Diego and LegoLand. That should break up the time enough that mother and I won't have to strangle each other. And there will be other shorter trips as well.

Days to AZ: 63

Most of the time, though, will be spent in Tucson with family.

The good news on my sister is that a recent CT scan came up clean, no tumors. The bad news is that her oncologist was surprised because her blood markers were very high. Jane herself is reasonably sure that it's not a question of whether the cancer will come back, but when. It breaks my heart to think about. But she is adamant about not spending the rest of her life dying, so I won't dwell on it. Well -- I'll try not to.

14 more days

Filey Brig

I took this photo last Sunday, give it a click to get a better view.

Not what it seems.

It looks like an ancient prehistoric landscape, but actually it's the cliffs at Filey.

Funny, or is it?

A young man named Gordon bought a donkey from an old farmer for £100.00.
The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day, but when the farmer drove up he said, "Sorry son, but I have some bad news... the donkey is on my truck, but unfortunately he's dead."
Gordon replied, "Well then, just give me my money back." The farmer said, "I can't do that, because I've spent it already."
Gordon said, "OK then, well just unload the donkey anyway."
The farmer asked, "What are you going to do with him?"
Gordon answered, "I'm going to raffle him off."
To which the farmer exclaimed, "Surely you can't raffle off a dead donkey!" But Gordon, with a wicked smile on his face said, "Of course I can, you watch me. I just won't bother to tell anybody that he's dead."
A month later the farmer met up with Gordon and asked, "What happened with that dead donkey?"
Gordon said, "I raffled him off, sold 500 tickets at two pounds a piece, and made a huge, fat profit!!" Totally amazed, the farmer asked, "Didn't anyone complain that you had stolen their money because you lied about the donkey being dead?"
To which Gordon replied, "The only guy who found out about the donkey being dead was the raffle winner when he came to claim his prize. So I gave him his £2 raffle ticket money back plus an extra £200, which as you know is double the going rate for a donkey, so he thought I was a great guy!!"
Gordon grew up and eventually became the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and no matter how many times he lied, or how much money he stole from the British voters, as long as he gave them back some of the stolen money, most of them, unfortunately, still thought he was a great guy.
The moral of this story is that, if you think Gordon is about to play fair and do something for the everyday people of the country for once in his miserable, lying life, think again my friend, because you'll be better off flogging a dead donkey!

I'm it!

Ali tagged me with a meme of trios.

Three things that scare me:

1. Losing my sister
2. Making the wrong decisions for my children
3. Horror/Slasher movies

Three people who make me laugh:

1. My kids
2. LabLuver
3. Tim the Tool Man

Three things I love:

1. Getting dirty in the garden
2. Snuggling with my boys
3. Cleansing myself with music

Three things I hate:

1. Gas-powered lawn mowers
2. Losing my internet connection
3. People who think the rules don't apply to them

Three things I don't understand:

1. How zeros and ones become images on my computer monitor
2. War
3. Willful ignorance

Three things on my desk:

1. A steaming mug of coffee
2. Approximately 2 reams of paper in the form of bills, ads, school notices, and GodOnlyKnowsWhatElse
3. An origami cow that N made

Three things I'm doing right now:

1. Avoiding housework
2. Thinking about Ron
3. Wishing my life were different

Three things I want to do before I die:

1. Hold my grandchildren
2. Publish some of my writings
3. Find a new happily ever after

Three things I can do:

1. Bake the world's best cheesecake
2. Make convincing animal noises
3. Read children's books aloud REALLY well

Three things I can't do:

1. Snow ski
2. Knit
3. Dance

Three things I think you should listen to:

1. Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, especially the Sanctus
2. Your children
3. The still, small voice

Three things you should never listen to:

1. Rap "music"
2. Politicians' election promises
3. Jealous hearts

Three things I'd like to learn:

1. How to play the piano with BOTH hands
2. How to make furniture
3. How to get through to my #1 son

Three favorite foods:

1. Grilled inch-thick steak, medium rare
2. A perfect creme brulee
3. Sweet corn on the cob, no butter

Three shows I watched as a kid:

1. The Waltons
2. All in the Family
3. Laugh-In

Three things I regret:

1. Quitting violin lessons
2. Not visiting my brother in Idaho more often
3. Not taking more science classes

Three people I tag:

1. B (in Boston)
2. Mimi
3. Hmmmm.... surprise me, and post that you did the meme!

New York

Due to the kids getting PC games for easter I can't get on my computer at home to post my photos of Filey. However as a bonus here's a picture from Dons holiday in New York. Don retired on 31st March and is now officially a layabout, which makes him a happy man and me a jealous one.

At last!

The boys are back in school.
It makes sense to wash the kitchen floor.
The toilets are clean too.

Not quite a haiku, but there's something poetic -- and satisfying -- about it.

Diddle diddle dumpling

What do you take to bed ?

From an ancient homily on Great Saturday

Something strange is happening -- there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still, because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh, and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him, Adam -- the first man he had created -- struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone, "My Lord be with you all."

Christ answered him: "And with your spirit." He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying, "Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light. I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants, I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkneess to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me, and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

"For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavcens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you who left a garden, I was betrayed in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

"See on my face the spit I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to removed the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once stretched out your hand to a tree.

"I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

"Rise. Let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see! I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherumbin to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity."

My rocket scientist

(I'm testing a different video hosting service. Let me know if you have problems.)

Happy Easter

Struggles, part two


Not "religion." Not "faith." Not "God." But church.

Going to church is such a struggle for me. I take any excuse not to go, no matter how flimsy. And it's ridiculous for me to do that, because I love my church -- the prayer, the song, the liturgy, the theology. It is good.

I mentioned this struggle to my priest the other day, and he asked what I was afraid of. The memories, perhaps? That is surely a big part of it.

Church religion faith God -- all of it was at the core of Nick's and my marriage. We met in the Roman Catholic church, delved into the wonder of the liturgy together, and journeyed to the Eastern Catholic church together. His call to the deaconate was mine as well, for he could not, would not have done it without me.

Being in church and not seeing Nick there can be so hard sometimes, especially during these great holy days. But the truth is church is the one place I feel Nick's presence; sometimes it's so palpable I can't stand it. And yet

And yet

And yet, I need to be there. I belong there. But


But when I am truly present to the liturgy, I crumble into tears and grief.

I can go to church and open myself to the holy mysteries and dissolve into a weeping widow.
Or I can go to church and dissociate myself from the prayer song mystery and walk away empty.
Or I can stay home and work crossword puzzles.

Guess which one is easiest.

Spring break

Lest you read the previous post and think that my life with the boys is awful, it really isn't. We had a fabulous time at the playground on Tuesday. Monday, we went to Great Falls. It's just 15-20 minutes from our house and I've been a few times, but I'd never taken the boys there. It is awesome.

Lots of water...

And lots of rocks...

(That's 4YO S climbing up the wall, and 9YO N jumping across the top.)

What more can you ask for?

Yesterday, we went to see Meet the Robinsons in the theater. This was the first time I've been with S in a theater that he actually was able to sit still and focus on the movie; my little guy is growing up. Of course, it helped that the show included cool things like a time machine, a food fight, and a tyrannosaurus rex. I enjoyed the movie a lot, but I was taken aback by how emotional I got at the adoption part of the story -- I got a bit weepy at the end.

Today is Day 4 of spring break (or is it day 6?). It's also Great and Holy Thursday. We went to church this morning for the vesperal liturgy remembering the last supper, which prefigures the heavenly banquet, which is happening in the eternal now. Great stuff. We went back to church this evening for the Service of the Twelve Gospels. More great stuff.


You should have seen the size of the ones I did!

Struggles, part one

The kids.

No, not "the kids." Parenting.

No, not "parenting." Parenting alone.

Yeah, that's it. Parenting alone is so damned hard. And I am so tired. Just when I think I can relax for a moment and catch my breath, something slaps me upside the head and says, Oh no you don't!

For example, yesterday was Day 2 of spring break (or Day 4 if you count Saturday and Sunday). It was a gorgeous day, so we packed the boys' bikes in the car and went to a nearby park. The boys climbed on playground equipment, swung up high, ran around, rode their bikes all over the place, watched a man launch model rockets. And I just watched them and relaxed, enjoying their play and somewhat relieved that I didn't have to watch their every move.

The ice cream truck even came! The boys were disappointed when I said no ice cream because (a) I didn't bring my wallet and (b) not until Pascha. Please, Mom! No! Now don't ask any more.

The wind picked up, so I got the kite out of the car. And the darned thing actually flew! The boys took turns and the kite went higher and higher. It was a perfect, perfect day.

Of course, they got bored with reeling the kite in and went off to ride their bikes and climb the pirate ship some more. Back came the ice cream truck. Pleeease, Mom! I said No! Not until Pascha! I was enjoying the day, the boys were happy. How good it all was.

I was having so much fun bringing the kite in, playing it, keeping it in the air as long as I could. A man crossed the field toward me, the boys coming behind him. I thought he must want to ask me about the kite.

Excuse me, ma'am. Your son took an ice cream from me and did not pay for it.

Profuse apologies... I told him he couldn't have one! I told him I didn't have any money to buy ice cream! I am so so sorry.

It's okay, but I needed to let you know he did this.

Rage and fury in my heart. I went to the car for my emergency $5 bill and tried to pay for the ice cream my son stole (which the man took away from him, by the way). The ice cream seller refused to take the money. It's okay. It's not stealing ... he's too young to steal. I raised three children. I know. But I needed to tell you it happened.

I was so angry with S, but I was more upset with myself. I let the boys run off while I lost myself in the kite. It felt so good.

What happened was bad: S did something he knew to be wrong and he embarrassed me. What could have happened could have been so much worse: One of the boys could have gone off on his bicycle and gotten lost or hurt. Anyone could have grabbed one of the boys from the busy playground.

I know this could have happened in a two-parent family. I know that. But somehow it feels worse because I am an only parent. I have no respite. I can't let my vigilance down. Even for a moment of play.

It's faster by train (not)

This morning I was due to pick up my Mother in Law from the train station. She had very kindly agreed to come and look after the kids for the day. Her train was due to leave Leeds at 7.20am and get to Hull at 8.20am, a journey of 1 hour. Unfortunately when she got to the station and boarded the train she was informed that it had been cancelled, but not to worry a coach was being laid on. At this point she rang me to inform me that she might be a little late. The coach duly arrived, but instead of taking her all the way to Hull, it dropped her off at a half way point called Howden, informing her she could get a train from there to Hull. She eventually arrived in Hull at 10.15am a journey of nearly 3 hours. The knock on effect of this of course is that I was nearly 2 hours late for work. At no point was a refund offered, nor refreshments of any kind. And to be quite frank they can shove their easily rolled off the tongue apologies up their incompetent, idle, arses. This is not a one off incident, it happens frequently, the british rail network is a joke and an embarrassment, as well as being an over priced rip off. Have I missed anything out?

struggle, v., n.

1. to contend with an adversary or opposing force.
2. to contend resolutely with a task, problem, etc.; strive: to struggle for existence.
3. to advance with violent effort: to struggle through the snow.
4. to be coping with inability to perform well or to win; contend with difficulty
5. the process or an act or instance of struggling.
6. a war, fight, conflict, or contest of any kind.
7. a task or goal requiring much effort to accomplish or achieve.

Synonym: My life

I hate Comcast

I've been essentially without Internet since Friday. It was on sporadically Saturday and Sunday, but was really OUT. I finally got it fixed today (a faulty connector outside).

And I have a lot to blog about. But no time now.

Love you all madly and I hope you bear with me.

Waves at Sandsend

Listen out for Katie's scream of glee towards the end.