Zesty Zimocca

In order to make your zesty zimocca, squeeze one on top of the other, I'll leave you to work out which way round.

Yarling Yarn


Xanthic Xebec

Stretching it a bit I know.

Wimpy Walrus

No mum, not the dentist, please.

Vulnerable Vampire

next election George, next election.

Unhappy Umbrella

Bought for a Hull FC supporter.


Best Friends Forever are all the rage among the younger set. I guess they have been for awhile. Let me tell you about my BFF.

In 1978, I met Paola my freshman year at Northwestern.
In 1979, Paola became my godmother when I was baptized in a Lutheran church.
In 1980, Paola moved to Washington, DC -- boo-hoo -- but we saw each other whenever I would visit my folks who moved to the area that same year.
In 1985, Paola helped me settle in when I moved to Washington.
Sometime in the 1980s Paola and her husband moved to Wisconsin -- boo-hoo -- but they came back!
In 1992, Paola was my witness when Nick and I married in the Catholic church.
Sometime in the 1990s, Paola and her family moved to Pittsburgh -- boo-hoo.
In 1998, Paola and her family drove down for HardPlace's baptism in the Melkite church.
In 2002, Paola opened her home to HardPlace and me for a week while Nick was at seminary and I was grieving the failure of yet another adoption plan to come through. Later that year, she drove down from Pittsburgh for Rock's baptism.
In 2004, Paola just happened to be in Washington the week Nick was in the hospital. She was by my side from the time Nick went into a coma until my mother arrived from California.
In January of this year, Paola dropped everything and drove down from Pittsburgh to take care of Rock and HardPlace so I could go to my brother's funeral.*
Wednesday night, Paola drove down from Pittsburgh so she could help me organize pack boxes.**

The younger set seems to change BFFs as often as they change hairstyles; Paola has been my BFF for nearly 30 years, and I doubt that will change at any point in the next 30 years.

* Nasty, unnecessary aside #1: My BIL and SIL who live 20 minutes away couldn't possibly help me at that time.
** Nasty, unnecessary aside #2: My BIL and SIL who live 20 minutes away have not even picked up the phone to call me in the 4 weeks since I told them about my mother's diagnosis and my decision to move.

Terrible Theater

and you all thought that Gawpo was the only one with talent.


An alternative view of the whaling museum from Queen's Gardens.

Red Road

This is the road I drive along to get to work each day, the red bit is for buses, you might have guessed that. Just a bit back there is a bit of road that has a dull green area on it, this was a designated crossing area for frogs, but it didn't work very well.


A woman was in town on a shopping trip. She began her day finding the most perfect shoes in the first shop and a beautiful dress on sale in the second. In the third everything had just been reduced to a fiver. Then her mobile phone rang. It was a female doctor notifying her that her husband had just been in a terrible accident and was in critical condition and in the ICU. The woman told the doctor to inform her husband where she was and that she'd be there as soon as possible.

As she hung up she realized she was leaving what was shaping up to be her best day ever in the shops. She decided to get in a couple of more shops before heading to the hospital.

She ended up shopping the rest of the morning, finishing her trip with a cup of coffee and a beautiful coffee slice complimentary from the last shop. She was jubilant. Then she remembered her husband. Feeling guilty, she dashed to the hospital. She saw the doctor in the corridor and asked about her husband's condition. The lady doctor glared at her and shouted, "You went ahead and finished your shopping trip, didn't you? I hope you're proud of yourself! While you were out for the past four hours enjoying yourself in town, your husband has been languishing in the Intensive Care Unit! It's just as well you went ahead and finished, because it will be more than likely the last shopping trip you ever take! For the rest of his life he will require round the clock care. And you'll now be his carer!" The woman was feeling so guilty she broke down and sobbed. The doctor then chuckled and said, "I'm just pulling your leg. He's dead. What'd you buy?"

Quartered Queen

Apologies if this is predictable, but wifey suggested it, and Cindra kind of dropped hints with her previous Elton reference.

Pointed Pendant

Back to nessa's game today, Allthough this is obviously a pointed pendant, it is also inscribed on the back with "Bugger Off". If that upsets anybody, read it again. Now what the hell am I going to do for Quartered Queen?

Crazy busy

I'm sure you understand.

I'll post when I can, but don't expect too much from me. I am reading all of your blogs -- thanks to the wonders of bloglines -- but I simply don't have the time/energy/brain capacity to respond. So consider yourselves, hugged, cheered on, comforted, encouraged ... whatever it is you need.

The movers come on Thursday, October 4.
We leave Maryland on Friday, October 5.
Then Indianapolis, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, and Tucson.

And I'm already tired.


We went out conkering today, it kind of brings out the kid in you, but when you look at them closely, aren't they gorgeous?


A busy day yesterday, Harry's birthday, and to save you asking, yes that is me on the cake.

More things wot I know

You can get by on charm for about 15 minutes, after that, you'd better have a big willy or huge boobs.

Orange Opponent

I know I'm only small, but I'll take you on.

And more ...

About 3 months after Nick died, the priest who married us was in town and came to visit. We were facing each other, holding hands; my head was bowed with pain and tears as I talked about how much I missed Nick. I looked up, and Fr. Andrew's eyes were filled with tears.

His tears meant so much to me: He loved Nick, too. He missed Nick, too.

When I move to Arizona, I am going to be leaving everyone else who loves and misses Nick (aside from my family). I am going to be leaving OUR friends, people who laughed with us and played with us, people who celebrated at our wedding and at our children's baptisms, people who stood by our side through thick and thin. People who wept with me at Nick's grave, who held me, who supported the boys and me.

When I get to Arizona, NOBODY will have known Nick. They won't know who he was, what kind of man he was; they won't have images of him playing with the boys or serving at church; they won't hear his marvelous laugh echoing in their memories. They won't have KNOWN him.

They will know ME, but they won't have known US. They won't have seen how we fit together, how strong we were with each other, how RIGHT we were together. They won't understand that the Alicia they are meeting is nothing like the Alicia I once was.

They will see me, they may know I'm a widow, and when I weep at the liturgy on the feast of St. Nicholas, they will feel pity for me. But they won't have their own tears for Nick. I won't see the sense of loss and love on their faces. I will be alone in mourning him.

Our friends here in Maryland have loved the boys and me even more, because of their love for Nick. Their help, their support, their tenderness toward us is even stronger and deeper because of their love for Nick. Yes, we will remain friends. We will stay in touch. But I will be losing a powerful web of connections to Nick, to the life we shared.

And it's breaking my heart.

Little lion

In all senses

Nine Noses

The other band members weren't sure about the drummers suggestion for their band name.

Things wot I know

You can't make someone love you. All you can do is stalk them and hope they panic and give in.

Mean Melon

I grew 7 melons this year, when I added the weight of all of them together, this one was the mean melon.

Kind Kitten

I know I killed mummy mouse, but I let the babies go.

Losing him all over again

Nick and I lived in this house for 1 year. I've lived here without him for 3 years. I've always said that this is MY house, so much more than it's OUR house. And that's true; it really is. But in moving out of this house, in moving to Arizona, I am leaving so much of Nick behind.

Nick and I never went to Tucson together; he never saw the house I'll be moving into; we never went to St. Melany's Church together. When I go to Arizona, I will have no memories of Nick there. I won't be able to "see" him in the kitchen, to see him pulling into the driveway, to see him in the shower, to see him singing in the choir, to see him serving in the holy place. I won't drive around town and remember going to this restaurant with him, stopping at that gas station with him, sitting at that movie theater with him.

I can't believe how hard it is for me to leave those memory triggers behind. I will always carry the memories with me, of course, but I'm sobbing -- no, I'm wailing like a banshee -- at leaving the reminders behind.

The Adelphi Rocked

I went to the Adelphi last night, not been there for about 15 years, good to see it hasn't changed. The first act defied description, but was entertaining none the less. The second band, I think hailed from Lincoln and might of been called The Rise, but don't quote me on that. They were good, producing several anthemic punk tunes, with a particularly good bass line. The main support were a French punk band called "Guerilla Poubelle", now Hull is not well known for it's acceptance of Johnny Foreigner, but the audience embraced them with a very genuine warmth. The band, clearly appreciated this and ripped through a set of excellent Gallic punk rock. Geurilla Poubelle are also the first band I have seen with a resident artist onstage, a bit like Bez with crayons. On to the main act, "Sonic Boom Six", who provided a fantastic, full of energy set. The audience loved them, they loved us, and hopefully they will be back soon. So after all those rubbish bands of the 80's, Manchester finally comes up with a good 'un!


I have lost so much.
In moving I will lose more,
With more loss to come.

I arrived at my grief counselor's office today and crumbled into a sobbing heap, clutching a pillow to my chest. I basically stayed like that all hour.

It has to come out:
The pain, the tears, all the hurt
But where do I start?

Jumping Jaguar

Innocent Igloo

It wasn't me guv.

Humble House

Our house of course is much bigger than this one!

Prayers for Miriam

My mother's first dose of chemo is today...

P.S. for Mimi

Since I'm not sure you would see this in a comment...

If you love Bloglines, you will love this widget! Now I don't even have to go to Bloglines to see if anything is new; it automatically displays for me. Talk about L-A-Z-Y!

The comment section has some complaints, but they are all over 1 year old, and I have had no problems (so far).

And to everyone else: I fixed the link to Bloglines in my previous post. Ooops.

More Nessa Stuff

One funny fender and one golden gesture.


This is from our back garden, apparently they grow quite well in Oregon USA too.


Yup. I love gadgets and gizmos.

Right now, I am loving two computer gadgets that people have been using for a long time.

First, I finally signed up for a subscription service: I subscribe to blogs, news features, or other such things and no longer have to check 15 times a day to see what's new. Bloglines does that for me: Click on bloglines and I know who has a new post for me to read. The good news is that it saves me time. The bad news is that I often read blogs on the feed, rather than actually going to the site. This means that I don't see readers' comments, am less likely to leave one myself, and don't show up on sitemeters.

Second, I have discovered widgets, desktop items that either display important information at a glance or that waste your time mindlessly. (I've loaded some Yahoo widgets, but they are available EVERYWHERE. ) My favorite is a picture frame that pulls photos from my hard drive. I made a special folder with a collection of pictures, some that I haven't seen since I took them eons ago with my very first digital camera.

It's fun to see the boys when they were little, and it warms my heart -- rather than hurts it -- to see pictures of Nick come up. It can be a little bizarre to see a picture of Rock now, then a picture of HardPlace before Rock was born, then a picture of Ron, then a picture of Nick with HardPlace. But I am loving it; every picture is filled with love.

I also bought a new laptop and wireless mouse for the laptop. Why? So I can play canasta -- ahem, cah-nah-stah -- with my friends in comfort. So I can surf the net when I'm not at home. Because I could. And the wireless mouse is GREAT! Gotta have it.

Yup. I'm a technophile.

Excited Elephant

So I'm walking along and this bloke offers me a job, you get to take people away he says, ha ha. Then the next day I won the lottery, and then I hear I'm appearing in some weird game invented by Nessa, and then to cap it all, mum says I can have a party tomorrow.

Garibaldi or Bourbons

The local rag, The Hull Daily Mail has an offer of free biscuits on Tuesday, I'm struggling to cope with the excitement. I wonder what their target group is with this offer? At least now that the council has stopped free school meals for all children, there appears to be an alternative!

Prayers for Ron

... on the third anniversary of the death of his beloved Carol.

May she dwell in a place where there is no pain, no suffering, no sighing, but in a place of happiness, a place of peace, a place of everlasting life.

And may her memory be eternal.

Dangerous Dog

Made in China by Mattell allegedly.

Creepy Caterpillar

One creepy caterpillar and a slimy slug for good measure.

My name is Alicia

Sunday night, I made new IM identities for myself.

It seemed that everyone one in the universe had my AIM and Yahoo names, and I couldn't sign on without being pinged by people I hardly know. After my brother's death in January, I simply didn't have the energy for that and I stopped signing on. But I have missed chatting with the folks I care about. My new IDs have Alicia in them.

I told 3 or 4 of my nearest friends about my new IDs, and one of them said, "Ahhhh... time to become Alicia again?" It was an Aha! moment.

Monday night, I changed my name on the widow board. This is what I posted:

First, let me tell you what Pentha means. It is from the Greek word penthaetria, which is the feminine of mourner. I always translated it in my head as She Who Mourns, much like the famous She Who Must Be Obeyed. It just fit.

I've been on the board for nearly 3 years now, and I've watched lots of people come and go and seen lots of people change their screen names for various reasons. I always said I would never change my screen name: Pentha is who I am. Pentha fits.

But now, Pentha is no longer all of me. I am reclaiming who I was before Nick died, and even parts of who I was before I met him. So I need to reclaim my name.

Alicia comes from a Greek word that means truth. I have always loved the ancient quote the pursuit of truth will set you free -- and it's modern add-on (thank you, Clarence Darrow), even if you never catch up with it. I always knew that if I pursued my SELF, I would be free. Most excellent -- don't you think?

People often post about their friends saying that they miss the "old you," not realizing that the "old you" is gone forever. I am still Pentha, but I am now more Alicia than I have been for the last 3 years ... perhaps even more than I have ever been before.

I could have put this in the Beyond Active Grieving forum, but I thought it might encourage those who follow me on this WidowRoad (and I don't mean simply chronologically), those whose screen names imply a lifetime of tears and sorrow, of grief and weeping. I think this is what I what I wanted to post when I hit the 3-year mark in August -- I just didn't know that I needed to change my screen name in order to say what I wanted to say.

Today, I reclaim my name here.

This is what the sidebar used to say about me:

My 8YO had to write a bio-poem. I think I'll follow that format:

Widow of Nicholas
Compassionate, intelligent, bratty
Loves wine by moonlight, the smell of coffee, waves crashing against the rocks
Fears pain, the abyss, things that go bump in the night
Needs tenderness, solitude, music
Would like to see the Great Wall of China, Antarctica, the Venus de Milo
Lives betwixt and between death and resurrection

Tell me what you think of the new one.

Waves on the Humber

Getting away from Nessa's game for a while, this was taken a few days ago on Hessle Foreshore. You will hear that it was quite windy.

Bald Bench

Exhibit a & b m'lud, one bench with hair and one without any hair. Just as a side issue, anyone new arriving at this blog will probably think I'm completely bonkers.


I have decided to republish the memorial that I wrote last year for project 2,996.

In Memoriam:
Christopher Paul Slattery, age 31

With the passing of Christopher Paul Slattery, a son died. A brother died. A nephew died. A cousin died. A friend died. A colleague died. A brother-in-law died. An uncle died. His family, friends, and co-workers can tell you far more about the life Chris lived than I ever could. So let us pause now and think about the life he did not live.

Chris was a son who never got to toast his parents' 50th wedding anniversary. He will not be there to help his parents when they are old, to support their faltering steps as they supported his first ones. He will never introduce the love of his life to his mother and father; he won't hear his father's advice and jokes about marriage, and he won't see his mother's eyes shining with proud tears at his wedding.

Chris was a brother who will never send Dan another whimsical IM; he will never make Erin laugh again. He will never fill their hearts with love as they watch him play with their children. He will never see those children grow up, graduate high school, get married.

Chris was a friend who will never host another tailgate party; he'll never see another Giants or Rangers game. He and his cousin Tim will never open their pie-in-the-sky bar and restaurant. He will never see another parade go down Fifth Avenue. He will never fly another kite on Nantucket.

Chris was a colleague who will never broker the most important deal of the year, work on the division's biggest project, or simply make sure the day-to-day details are moving smoothly.

Christopher Slattery was a son and a brother, a nephew and a cousin, a brother-in-law and an uncle, a friend and a colleague. But he will never be a husband and a father. He will never feel his heart skip a beat when the phone rings with a certain tone; he will never have butterflies in his stomach when he asks someone to share her life with him. He will never know the wonder of becoming a father, of falling in love all over again, this time with someone so tiny as to be unbelievable.

From all accounts, when Chris died, the world lost a gentle, kind man with a wonderful sense of humor, a man who "lived life large and packed it full." He will always be remembered by those who knew him. Let us also remember what Chris lost, the opportunities for love and laughter and living.

Read more about Chris Slattery:
Read other tributes from project 2,996.

val-ue, n., v.

- noun
  1. relative worth, merit, or importance
  2. monetary or material worth, as in commerce or trade
  3. the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged or in terms of some medium of exchange
  4. magnitude; quantity; number represented by a figure, symbol, or the like: the value of an angle; the value of x; the value of a sum
  5. import or meaning; force; significance
  6. liking or affection; favorable regard
  7. any object or quality desirable as a means or as an end in itself
  8. the relation of light and shade in a painting, drawing, or the like.
  1. to calculate or reckon the monetary value of; appraise
  2. to consider with respect to worth, excellence, usefulness, or importance
  3. to regard or esteem highly
I have learned something remarkable since my mother was diagnosed with cancer. People value me. I am a valued person. I have value. It may surprise you to hear me say that, but I have years and years of personal insecurity behind me ... 46 years of it to one degree or another.

As I let people know about my mother's illness and about my intended move, the response has been breath-taking. People are giving me genuine offers of assistance, as well as actual assistance. I have widowed folks on both ends of the road saying they will help me pack/unpack, clean, organize, whatever I need. One dear friend said she would even fly to Tucson if I needed her to. (Thanks, Aliene, but stay in California so you can join me at the beach when I need an escape.) Women in the neighborhood have already brought me new boxes -- they actually purchased a bundle at U-Haul and brought them over intending to help me pack.

It's stunning. And one day last week it hit me: My friends are doing this for ME. Because they care about ME. Yes, they are sad about my mom, but sad because she is MY mother. They value ME. I, Alicia, have value.

How cool is that?

Angry Art

It's called Angry Art, Nessa will understand why it is here, as will those of you who visit her. I'm hoping the fact that you have to look real close to see the writing will make you angry (yes I know it's tenuous!)

Amazing dancing leaf

I shot this video this morning, there is no camera trickery, I promise.

Longer post coming

I just want to take a minute to say thank you for all your prayers and support.

I'm hanging in as best I can. In fact, the boys and I are at the Jersey Shore this weekend. One last hurrah before pandemonium breaks loose as I pack up to move to AZ.

Thank you thank you thank you. Words cannot convey.... THANK YOU.


So I said "smile".
September 5, 1992
Soprano. Come quickly, now come! Come quickly now come. We wait thee with lamps all alighted.
Come quickly, now come! The doors open wide. Come claim thee thy bride. Come, Jesus, come.

Bass. Yea quickly I come! Yea, quickly I come. The doors open wide. I claim me my bride, forever in rapture united. Yea quickly I come!

From Cantata 140, Wachet Auf, J. S. Bach
September 5, 2007

Pulling up near the grave, I broke down sobbing: I still can't believe I have to come here! I just can't believe this. I keened and wept as I cleaned the grave marker, noting that the groundskeepers had lifted the stone as I had requested. I rubbed the place set aside for my name: Jeez, I should write up documents specifying this is where I belong when the time comes, and that I want my name plate to read "Unto ages of ages. Amen."

I made a brief entry in my book of letters to Nick -- the boys and I write in it on special occasions. Then I stood with my BDW and chanted the Paschal Stichera of the Resurrection and the Memorial Service. I struggled with the memorial service because I had the Pascha tones in my head, and I couldn't replace them with the bereft tones of the memorial service. So Nick's memorial on this day was in jaunty tone with upbeat rhythms -- and as strange as it sounded to my ears, it was perfect to my heart.

September 5, 1992

"Gloria" sing all our voices;
with angels all mankind rejoices,
with harp and strings in sweetest tone.
Twelve bright pearls adorn Thy portals
where Thou has gathered Thine immortals
as angels round Thy glorious throne.

No eye has yet seen,
nor ear hath yet attained to hear
the joy we know.
Our praises flow to God
in sweet jubilation.

Wachet Auf, J.S. Bach

Note to my readers:
I read over this late last night and figured that it might not have been clear that September 5 is our wedding anniversary. The two excerpts from Wachet Auf were the opening and closing songs from our marriage ceremony: The duet was the prelude music while guests were arriving, and the chorale was our recessional.

Note to myself: You really should make digital copies of some of your wedding photographs... You and Nick were a beautiful couple.

Music meme

I nicked this from Dave W and appreciate that it will mean very little to the few regulars I have, but allow me a little indulgence, and I will return to normal posting soon!

Before you do anything else, pick 10 favourite bands/artists:-

1. The Clash
2. Stone Roses
3. The Enemy
4. The View
5. Carter USM
6. Radiohead
7. Ash
8. Rancid
9. Manic Street Preachers
10. Motorhead

What was the first song you ever heard by 6?
Anyone Can Play Guitar (except me)

What is your favourite album of 8?
And Out Come The Wolves

What is your favourite lyric of 5?
Once in a blue, your dreams come true, and someone's looking out for you. (Let's get Tattoos)

What is your favourite song by 7?
A Life Less Ordinary

Is there a song of 3 that makes you sad?
Happy Birthday, Jane. Completely different to anything else they've done.

What is your favourite song by 2?
Bye Bye Badman

What is your favourite song by 9?
Design for Life

What is your favourite album by 1?
Obviously the box set with everything on!

How did you get into 3?
Saw the video for "It's not OK" on MTV.

What is your favourite song by 4?
The Don

Who is your favourite band member in 9?
Nicky Wire for the fact that he refuses to kiss any woman except his wife, and if that's not true, I've quite liked some of the dresses he's worn.

Is there a song by 8 that makes you sad?
Old Friend, not exactly sad, but helps you remember those no longer with us.

What is your favourite song by 10?
Bomber, because I used to fly one.

Which album of 2 has influenced you the most?
You really need to ask?

Well that was a bit of a mammoth post, how many of you made it to the end? (be honest now!)

In business mode

When my sister Jane was diagnosed with stomach cancer, she and I were given something that Nick and I weren't: time. This summer I realized that if I want to have time with her, this is the time -- when the cancer isn't a factor, when she is getting stronger and feeling better -- not down the road when cancer comes back for her. So I came back to Maryland and started thinking about moving out to Tucson on a temporary basis.

I called my realtor for information about renting this house out; I researched storage options so I wouldn't have to take EVERYthing with me; I looked at school possibilities in Arizona; I talked to my broker about finances; I mentioned the idea to a few good friends. The day before Jane took Mother to the hospital, I called her and said I was strongly inclined to move to Tucson at Christmas -- just for a year or two. I told her I would decide by mid-October.

When Mother's diagnosis was confirmed, it was the easiest thing in the world to say, Yes, I will move us to Tucson. Yes, we will go as soon as possible. An incredibly hard decision, but so easy to make.

So now I am in business mode -- thinking about all that I need to do to make the move happen, rather than thinking about what lies ahead of the move. When I need to be, I am very organized and an amazing list-maker. The mental lists are beginning, and plans for organizing are forming. The move will be the easy part, so I will enjoy it while I can.

Thank you for all your support and encouragement.

3 a.m. and I can't sleep

Gee. I wonder why?


Blogger wouldn't let me post the video I did of today's day trip, so you get 3 photos from Flamingoland instead. They are entitled, "Bad hair day", "say aaaahhh" and "majestic", you work out which goes with which.

10:30 p.m.

It's the worst case: ovarian cancer, "lots of it." The surgeon couldn't remove anything, couldn't even clear the blockage of the colon. He inserted a tube to drain the blockage into a bag. There was too much cancer to do anything else.

In theory, they will use radiation to shrink the cancer quickly so they can go in and remove at least some of it. In reality, I am not sure my mother will allow that.

In theory, I'm okay. I'm a strong woman. In reality, I want my life back. I want my husband and my brother back. I want my mommy. I want someone here to hold me while I sob.

Update, 5:00 p.m.

My sister called about 40 minutes ago. My mother is about to be prepped for surgery, which could last anywhere from 1 hour to 4 hours. The surgeon told Jane that he didn't know what he was going to find, but he was going to do whatever was necessary to remove the blockage.
  • If it's a removable cancer, he will take it out.
  • If it's a kink in the colon, he will untwist it.
  • If it's a kink with damage, he will remove and resect the damaged portion.
  • If he finds something unremovable or unfixable, he will insert a tube and give her a colostomy bag to get rid of the blockage.
The clock just chirped 5 p.m. ... Her preparation begins and my anxiety rises. Please pray for her, for her doctors, and for my sister (who is being heavily taxed by all this -- I worry about her health). Oh yeah... pray for me to.

5:45 -- She's in surgery now.
We went for a walk by the river this morning, something we used to do a lot, when we lived in the area. It was sunny and quite warm, so a pleasant time was had by all. However the highlight of the day was yet to come when I spotted the Mighty Dave Windass in ASDA.