Something silly

They call it "Matrix PingPong."

Family haiku

There is a goodness
in being with family:
Satisfying light.

Families are strange.
Is that why we love them so?
The strangeness of love?

"Let me scrub the floor."
The garage is now stain-free:
Mother will be pleased.

There is a goodness
in doing the little things --
These things I can do.

So much I can't do:
Raise the dead, cure the disease,
erase all the pain.

But I will stay with you,
Hold your hand, and walk with you.
We are family.

There is great goodness
in living as family:
Breathtaking light -- life.

Did I really just do this?

St. John the Baptist
and St Stephen the Deacon --
Two All Saints costumes:


Yup. I made them on my sewing machine. Pictures to come when I find the charger for my camera battery.

Beverley Westwood

An arty black and white shot and wifey in glorious technicolour, both taken at Beverley Westwood yesterday.

Where am I?

I'm actually in a good place, and I don't mean strictly geographically, although that is pretty nice too.

People have expressed amazement that I really did it -- that I just picked up and moved, that I did it so quickly, without hesitation. I won't deny that it has been hard, that it has been painful. But it was -- ahem -- easy to do because it was so clearly the right thing to do. And I am really glad to be here.

Yes, I miss my friends terribly. Yes, I miss my house in Maryland and all the wonderful things I had done to it, the great spaces I had created. Yes, it's hard on my relationship with Ron to be two time zones and 1600 miles away from each other.

But it is GOOD to be with family. It is GOOD to spend time with my sister while she is still relatively healthy. It is GOOD to spend time with my mother while she is still "okay."

And it's good to know that I CAN do this. I may not WANT to but I CAN ... dang I'm good!

Lunchtime walk

When you're sat at a desk a lot, it's important to get a bit of exercise, so the other day I went for a walk in my lunch hour. I came across this drain, and walked from one bridge to the next one. The weather was lovely, sunny and warm, and the birds were singing. Life aint so bad.

West Park

Taken this morning on the way to work.

Cool Cat

It's Boozer, he belongs to Bazza & Wifey, which naturally makes him cool

Animated Apple

It's an apple and it moves, it won't win an Oscar, it could be in with a chance of a Raspberry though.

Freight train coming

A widow friend asked me how my family was. Since I dumped on her, I figured I might as well put it out here for all to see.

It's so hard to see my mother acknowledging and preparing for her last days. She's "fine" now, but she knows her time is short. She gets one more dose of chemo in 10 days; after that they will evaluate to see if the tumors have shrunk enough to remove any of the cancer. After that ... we just see what happens. The doctors have given her 12 to 18 months; I think that SHE thinks it will be less time than that.

My sister is "okay" -- her 9-month scan showed no tumors and the biopsy was clean, but her blood count for cancer markers is ridiculously high, so she's nowhere near cancer-free. She struggles with watching our mother get sicker, with wondering why, with wondering what next, with watching her husband go through the dread of what you and I know all too well.

And right now, I sit here like a deer caught in the headlights of a freight train. I know what's coming next, and I want to get out of the way, but I know that I can't.

Bad Bee

There's no way i'm going to get 26 of these done, and even if I had the time the competition is too strong this month (see Cindra & Quilly), but here's a start.

More Fair

2 of the more traditional attractions at the fair this year.

The Elevator

An Amish boy and his father were in a mall. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny, silver walls that could move apart and then slide back together again.
The boy asked, 'What is this Father?'
The father (never having seen an elevator) responded, 'Son, I have never seen anything like this in my life. I don't know what it is.
While the boy and his father were watching with amazement, a fat old lady in a wheel chair moved up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened and the lady rolled between them into a small room. The walls closed and the boy and his father watched the small circular numbers above the walls light up sequentially.
They continued to watch until it reached the last number and then the numbers began to light in the reverse order. Finally the walls opened up again and a gorgeous 24-year-old blonde stepped out.
The father said quietly to his son ... 'Go and get your mother.'

Leg it!

Wifey does her Dolly Parton impression, Bazza and the kids start running when wifey starts singing.

An email to my "nearest and dearest"

After several very long days of driving -- complete with restless kids, a frazzled mom, and too much fast food (not to mention sore butts) -- the boys and I arrived in Arizona as scheduled on Wednesday the 10th. On the way, we had wonderful visits with family and friends in St. Louis, OK City, and Albuquerque (only one lonely night, in a hotel in Indianapolis). The only mishap was a speeding ticket in Ohio -- my first moving violation since 1977. Sigh.

On Thursday, the first thing I did was smash my car. Yup. It's too hard to explain how it happened, but suffice it to say that I thought I knew where I was going as I ripped around the corner; but I didn't. So I plowed into a construction barrier. Ugh. My windshield was shattered -- thank God for safety glass -- the wiper blade twisted beyond recognition, and the hood smooshed a bit. It's in the shop ...

My sister drove the boys and me to their new school, where we had a welcoming tour and were lucky enough to meet the pastor of our new parish. HardPlace even said that he thought the school was "pretty good" -- high praise coming from him. The boys are in a for a bit of a shock, since not only will they be wearing uniforms, but they will also have to be ready to leave the house by 7:00 a.m. and attend mass once a week. (In case you don't know and couldn't figure out, I've enrolled them in a Catholic school -- mostly because I don't want the boys to be behind their peers when we return to Maryland.) The good thing is that their classes will be MUCH smaller. HardPlace will be the 19th child in his class, and Rock the 14th. They will both benefit from the increased attention they'll receive because of the smaller classes, if for different reasons. They start tomorrow -- wish us all luck!

After the school meeting, I arrived (having borrowed my mother's car) at my new house to find the moving van had just pulled up. Since then, I've been unpacking and putting away and unpacking and doing laundry and unpacking and nagging the boys to clean their rooms and and and ... I'm exhausted, but actually pretty content.

Yeah, content. The boys are settling in and happier much more quickly than I had expected. This house is smaller than our Maryland home, so it's easier to be near each other even when we're doing different things. My mom lives 5 minutes away, and my sister 8. It's good. Very good.

As to the reason I'm here in Tucson: Mother had her second dose of chemo the day before we arrived. Today was the first day that she felt able to leave the house. Jane drove her over here, and Mother watched while I opened picture boxes (what fun that was!). It's very hard to see my mother so sick -- when Nick and I moved into our Rockville house, EVERY box was unpacked 6 days later, when I drove my mother to the airport. It's really awful to see the change in her -- just since the 2 months when we went back to Maryland after being here all summer.

On the other hand, and this may surprise some of you, seeing Mother like this affirmed my gratitude that Nick died as quickly as he did, that he died before having to endure the medical treatments that would have proved futile anyway. As unbearable as it was to lose Nick so brutally fast, I think it would have been even worse to watch him suffer over a long period of time. Ohhhh how I miss that man, how I wish he were here to strengthen me through my mother's illness. I hate this all so much. I really really hate this.

I can't think of much else to say right now, but I did want to touch base with you and let you know we had arrived safely. I'd love to hear back from you -- I won't guarantee an immediate response, but I trust you understand.

All the best, Alicia

Settling in

The furniture is pretty much in place.
The kitchen boxes are all unpacked.
I am about to reward my hard work by unpacking all my pretty things and decorating my new space.
The boys are happy as clams in their new spaces.
I love waking up to sunrise in the desert.
Rock and HardPlace start their new school tomorrow.

And my computer is set up!

Hull Fair

3 images of Hull Fair, a few more to come later.


Some local graffiti, what do you think?

More City Centre

At the top the city's art gallery, followed by the fountain at Queen's gardens, and at the bottom the artfully decorated Empress Pub.

I'm here

Well, we made it to Tucson. Six days and 2500 miles after we left Maryland, we arrived tired, hungry, and stiff at my sister's house.

And it is wonderful to be here. Really. The boys were so happy to be on terra firma, and to be somewhere they could run around with impunity. I was so happy to be with my mom and sister and to know that I don't have to drive for 8 or 9 hours today.

My mother was waiting for us at Jane's house: She didn't look as bad as I was afraid she would. Yes, she looked tired and drawn, but her color was good, and she had a pretty bandanna on her head -- Jane had warned me that they had a shaving party on Monday.

This morning, I'll take the boys to their new school to register them and let them tour around. The movers will deliver my furniture at noon (or thereabouts). And then it will simply be a matter of unpacking and settling into a new routine. "Simply."

Hull City Centre

A couple of images from Hull's City Centre.

Funny how it goes

Nothing to post for a few days and then in the space of an hour I get some nice shots of old buildings in Hull, some great graffiti shots and we're off to the fair tonight. I just don't know when I'm going to get time to post them all!

How cool is that!

I interrupt my regularly scheduled tale of woe with something really amazing:

My 21-year-old nephew has won an Emmy! Last year, as his senior project in film school, he wrote/produced/directed a short documentary about homeless youth in Phoenix. His professor thought it was good enough to submit in the "student production" category -- which was pretty cool in itself. Everyone forgot about it until Brian got the call that he'd won ... he actually won an EMMY. Wowowowowow. How cool is that!


Just a quick update on everything else: The final packing on Wednesday and Thursday was wild and harried, and I couldn't have done it without the help of my unbelievably fantastic friends. The loading itself was smooth and uneventful. Saying goodbye goodbye goodbye -- too many goodbyes -- was brutal, absolutely brutal and painful. The driving has been fine (thank God for DVD players in the back seat), but my butt hurts. The visit with Ron was wonderful, except for the part about saying goodbye and not knowing when we'll see each other again. I spoke briefly with my mother today: her second dose of chemo is tomorrow, and she was fatigued after talking to me for only 5 minutes. My sister's endoscopy looked good: nothing visible, so now we just wait for the pathology tests. Meeting Stella was great -- she actually thinks she'd like to be my next-door-neighbor, in spite of having seen Rock in action.

I'll be in Tucson in 2 more days...

Beverley Food Fayre

Some images from Beverley Food Fayre, which we visited today. Lots of free samples of cheese, chutney and breads, but you had to fight for them, it was very busy.

Pearson Park

A couple of images from our local park, which we visited today so Harry could feed ducks.

An email from my mother ...

Dearest Alicia:

This year has been, we all agree, incredibly dreadful to us, beginning with Lawrence's death. I have received many messages of love and caring, and they have been tremendously helpful. But I just realized last night that YOU are the real heroine of this family (melo)drama. We have been "acted upon" by life's random strikes -- Jane and I more directly in two instances -- but YOU are the one person who has Taken Action, DELIBERATELY, and put yourself and yours at emotional (and other) risks that none of us would have demanded of you.

We all understand you have undertaken these things from your love, your faith, and the courage that flows from them.

I just wanted you to know what I am looking at, and will be thinking about, when the movers come tomorrow morning, to haul away your furniture, disassembling the house you and Nick put together.


Help me

The movers come tomorrow.

HardPlace stayed up last night, crying for not wanting to move away.
I packed until midnight.
I struggled to get to sleep;
woke up at 4, tossed and turned for a while;
woke up at 7:30
and had to hit the ground running.

I promised HardPlace we would go to Nick's grave today. How can we move away if it means we won't be able to visit Daddy anymore?

There's still so much to do.
I have to take treats to the boys' classes for little goodbye parties
their idea, not mine
but how could I say no?
I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I want to collapse into tears of exhaustion.

Help me get through the next two days. Someone, please help me.

A Quick Joke from Wifey!

With apology to all you 'blondes' in advance : )

Bob walked into a sports bar around 9:58 PM.
He sat down next to a blonde at the bar and stared up at the TV.
The 10:00 PM news was coming on.

The news crew was covering a story of a man on a ledge of a large buildingpreparing to jump.The blonde looked at Bob and said, 'Do you think he'll jump?'Bob says, 'You know, I bet he'll jump.'The blonde replied, 'Well, I bet he won't.'

Bob placed a £20 note on the bar and said, 'You're on!'Just as the blonde placed her money on the bar, the guy on the ledge did a swan dive off the building, falling to his death.The blonde was very upset, but willingly handed her £20 to Bob, saying,'Fair's fair. Here's your money.

'Bob replied, 'I can't take your money, I saw this earlier on the
5PM news , and so I knew he would jump.'The blonde replied, 'I did too; but I didn't think he'd do it again.'

Bob took the money.

The magic of blogland

I won an award, that's it up there, thanks to nessa for running the comp. Another wonderful thing happened on Saturday, WE HAD A PHONE CALL FROM CINDRA, now to some of you that may not mean much, but this was the first ever phone call I have had from someone in the US and also the first verbal contact we have had with a fellow blogger. I'm glad it was Cindra, she's kind of special, and I got to speak to Tom as well, who is also special too.
The observant amongst you may notice a small gap below this post, don't ask me how it got there.

For Rent

OMG! There is a For Rent sign in front of my house!

I guess I really am moving in a few days.

Say welcome to wifey

Wifey has had to give up her blog due to rising demands on her time from the kids and Bazza. As recognition of her sterling efforts I have given her permission to post on my blog occasionally, when she has completed her chores, isn't she lucky to have me?