Hallelujah!


I am finally Home Alone after being home sick with sick boys for the last 10 days. If I weren't so damned tired and residually sick, I'd be doing the happy dance.

Instead, I'll pick up some Legos -- and take a little rest. And pull sick-bed sheets off all the beds -- and take a little rest. And empty the dishwasher -- and take a little rest. And run a load of laundry -- and take a little rest. And pick up more Legos -- and take a little rest. And fill the dishwasher -- and take a little rest. And pick up PlayDoh crumbs -- and take a little rest. And run another load of laundry -- and take a little rest. And sweep the kitchen floor -- and take a little rest. And sort my mail and pay some bills -- and take a little rest.

To heck with it. I'm just going to take a nap.

My secret identity

I am Lina Lamont. No, my hair is not platinum blonde set in stone, and my voice will not peel paint. Nonetheless, we are one and the same, she and I.

A thread I started on the widow board last week has generated a lot of praise -- you're so talented, you have such a way with words, you're so gifted (and you can spell, too!) -- and I've received more than a few PMs. I can shrug off the posted compliments, but I am compelled to acknowledge the private ones.

I express my thanks for their kind words as simply and graciously as I can, saying something about wanting to give back to the board what I have received there. And everytime I push the send button, I feel as though I am channeling Miss Lamont:

If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, it makes us feel as though our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'. Bless you all.

Afterthought: I do hope that no one reading this takes offense. I write for myself; appreciation of my writing is a great thing, but in some ways, you might as well thank me for breathing.

Labels: Yes or no?

Closet Luddite that I am, I have not used the label feature on any of my blog entries. Should I?
Labels weren't available when I started on blogspot, and I wasn't in the mood to start using them when the option became available. My blog was just fine without 'em. Why should I use this new-fangled thing just because it's there? 'tain't broke, an' I ain't gonna fix it, dagnabitall.

I suppose I could go to all the blogs I read and see who uses labels and what I think of them. But I'm lazy and figured I'd just ask. So...

Do you label your posts?
How many different labels do you have?
Are they broad? or specific?
Do you use your labels for anything for yourself?
Do you use the labels on other blogs?

Would it be worth going back and labeling the last 2 years of posts?

TWO YEARS!!! I meant to mention that last week, btw.

I have really enjoyed blogging for the last two years. I never expected "community" to form; it was just a place for me to write and process and think about things that didn't really belong on the widow board. (Pet peeve: I am irritated when people use the board as a diary of sorts, detailing the minutiae of their days.)

I know that most of my little web of the blogosphere comes from the widow board, directly or indirectly. I "met" several of my blogging buddies through Project 2996 -- what a wondrous, humbling experience that was. And some of us connected by the crazy clicking through the Internet we do when we're bored or in procrastination mode, clicking a link on someone else's blog or comments.

I write for myself, but I am grateful for the unexpected community blogging has brought me.

For example, thanks for all the virtual chicken soup -- and backrubs! -- this week. I'm still sick, but my fever is back down to low-grade levels. HardPlace seems over the fever phase, and Rock just started getting the fevers on Friday. We're all coughing like Camille and feeling pretty miserable, but we've also managed to have relatively quiet days hanging with one another: Boredom has not yet led any of us to homicide. I may, however, have to kill my sister for her utter lack of sympathy and assistance. Oh well. Such is life.

1:07 a.m., 103.6*F

Being sick stinks. I don't think I'll be posting again today.

Post, interrupted

So where was I this morning? The tentative title of my post was

Spiritual

Spirituals have been running through my head the last few days, fitting for this Martin Luther King, Jr., weekend -- they have been conjuring an odd blending of freedom, widowhood, healing, and prayer.

I guess it started with my previous post, The Waters of Healing, as I headed off to a weekend with my widows. We are a broken people, looking for a way through bitter pain. The call-and-response hymn Healing River simply pulls the pain out of me, pulls it out of hiding, brings it forth, brings it before God.
O healing river,
send down your waters;
Send down your waters
upon this land.
O healing river,
send down your waters,
And wash the blood
from off the sand.

This land is parching;
this land is burning.
No seed is growing
in the barren grounds.
O healing river,
send down your waters.
O healing river,
send your waters down.

Let the seed of freedom
awake and flourish.
Let the deep roots nourish;
let the tall stalks rise.
O healing river,
send down your waters;
O healing river,
from out of the skies.

Perhaps this particular song resonates with me so much these days because of my current situation -- the dry dry desert in which I find myself, and I don't mean geographically. But lately whenever I sing it to myself, it somehow morphs into the civil rights classic We Shall Overcome.
We shall overcome, we shall overcome,
We shall overcome some day.
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe
We shall overcome some day.

The Lord will see us through, the Lord will see us through
The Lord will see us through some day.
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe
The Lord will see us some day.

We’ll walk hand in hand, we’ll walk hand in hand
We’ll walk hand in hand some day.
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe
We’ll walk hand in hand some day.

We are not afraid, we are not afraid
We are not afraid today.
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe
We are not afraid today

The truth shall make us free, the truth shall make us free
The truth shall make us free some day.
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe
The truth shall make us free some day.

We shall live in peace, we shall live in peace
We shall live in peace some day.
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe
We shall live in peace some day.

That was an astounding statement of faith to make in the face of insurmountable odds of oppression and hatred. And it's an astounding statement of faith to make in the face of the desolation of grief -- that we'll overcome, we'll walk hand in hand, we'll live in peace. Therein is the sum of all my hopes and prayers. I find myself thinking that maybe the WidowRoad and the Civil Rights road have a lot in common. No, that's not right. Let me just say that the songs of freedom speak to this widow's heart.

And finally: Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing.
Lift ev'ry voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list'ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast'ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?

We have come over a way that with tears has been watered
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered.
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star's cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by Thy might,
Led us Into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.

Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

The triumph of that song is breathtaking. Who among us widoweds has not felt overwhelmed by weary years? silent tears? But this voice is triumphant!

Pain, faith, victory. It seems like a straight shot, an easy progression, but we who truly walk the road -- widowed or otherwise -- know differently. The songs weave together, each taking its turn in dominance, all blending together in richness and wholeness.

Which brings me to the weekend with the widows. Different personalities, different stories; coming together in harmony and laughter; speaking of pain, faith, victory; first one, then another; call and response, ebb and flow, back and forth; blending together in richness and holiness.

I am so effing angry

I was composing a rich uplifting post in my mind. I'd been mulling it over and thinking about it and feeling the beauty and music and strength.

And one phone call killed it.

The waters of healing

The boys and I are heading to Phoenix for the long weekend. (There's no school today because the teachers have a big meeting, and Monday is MLKing Day.) I plan to lounge by the pool, dipping my toes in now and then -- the air will probably be too cold to do much swimming, even though the water is heated. I'll be with a dozen or so other widoweds; we'll laugh and talk and get teary and laugh some more. We'll have our drinks and food delivered to us, and someone else will wash the dishes and make the beds.

I so desperately need this time: There's been altogether too much stress in my life lately. Too much work and worry, too much anger and fear, too much pain and frustration

Right now, my heart is going out to Elizabeth, my brother's widow, as she begins Day 366 of her journey on the WidowRoad.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I wish I could tell her when the ache will go away.

Mileage

I'm sitting in the customer service lounge of the only VW dealership within 100 miles of my house. I mention the distance only because it explains why I'm waiting here, instead of going home while they work on my car. It took 90 minutes to get here in rush hour traffic this morning, so I sure am not going to go home and come back and then go home again.

I'm here for the 100,000-mile service on my Passat. They're also rotating the tires and balancing the wheels, and the car needs new rear brake pads and such. A hundred thousand miles is a very long way, and my car shows that it has traveled so far. Actually, it looks pretty damn good for having covered so many miles. It has some scratches and dings (thanks to my darling Rock, grrrrr), and I've had some maintenance issues, but it is a great car and I hope to keep it going for another 50 or 60 thousand miles.

I'm feeling a bit like my car these days. It's been a long long road, but I'm running well. I'm getting my wheels rotated and balanced this weekend. The boys and I are taking a long weekend in Phoenix, and I'll be hanging by the pool with my widows. I can't say enough about how important that service is to keep my ride smooth. A weekend of laughter and loving and crying and relaxing in the shelter of people who don't question my sanity or fault my housekeeping or criticize my continued thinking about a dead man such good for my soul.

Replacing my personal brake pads and liners is more of an ongoing maintenance issue than a straightforward repair job. My life often seems to careen wildly at a speed faster than the road was designed for. I hate the shrill sound of brakes that need repair, and that smell of burned out brakes? Yick. So I am always maintaining my brakes, ensuring that I can hold on when going round those crazy curves -- and screech to a halt when necessary. A walk in the desert, mindless computer games, vacuuming the boys' rooms. It's all part of my routine maintenance.

A hundred thousand miles, and I fully intend to get another 30 or 40 thousand miles out of her -- which means I have to be good to my baby.

Reason #1,256 I hate being an only parent

Rock continues to disrupt the class. When I ask him to stop, he looks, smiles, and keeps on. I think we need to discuss why this behavior continues to take away from teaching time. Any suggestions? Let me know.

When there are problems at school, I don't have a partner to help me figure out what to do, how to talk to the teacher, how to deal with Rock. Yes, I have a consequence in place -- no tv on the days that his daily report is negative. But the consequence at home is no longer effecting a change in his behavior at school.

Do I have any suggestions for the teacher? Of course not! I've exhausted all the suggestions from previous conversations with teachers, counselors, advisors, etc. Another set of eyes, hands, and heart at home might see another approach to take.

At the very least, if I were not an only parent, I would not feel so overwhelmed by the each infraction, so willing to take all the blame for his behavior onto myself, so down on myself for ineffective parenting.

That wretched feeling

It's been rumbling in my gut again, that sense of dread and sadness and loss. I couldn't understand it, but the reason suddenly occurred to me: In 2 days it will be 1 year since my brother's sudden death. I'm feeling the same way I do in the days before the anniversary of Nick's diagnosis and death, and now I know why. I'm doing the Last-Year-At-This-Time cr*p.

One year ago today, I was on my way home from a great weekend in Florida with the widows. I had gotten lots of love and compassion and promises of prayers for my sister's upcoming surgery. I was anxious about Jane's prognosis, but I had been renewed with a weekend of laughter and loving.

Little did I know that the death in the family we all were dreading would come sooner than any of us expected, would take someone unexpected. Little did I know that my heart would be breaking for my beloved big brother, aching for his grieving widow. Little did I know.

Little do any of us know.

Reason #1,254 I hate being an only parent

Because mine is the only voice they ever hear -- all day, every day -- they simply don't hear me.

Yes, I know that if Nick were still alive, they would be tuning out two voices instead of one, but it would be different. Nick would be able to say, "Don't talk to your mother like that!" I could say, "LISTEN to your father when he's talking to you." We could back each other up, reinforce each other's positions.

I am so stinkin' tired of being all things-all the time to these boys. I have to be hard-nosed and hard-line ALL the time, and I have to be loving and patient ALL the time. I am ALWAYS both the good cop and the bad cop, and after 1,254 days I still haven't gotten it right.

Still unanswerable

Why do so many widoweds suffer from low self esteem? If anything, we should be prouder, stronger, more secure. We have endured the most grievous loss imaginable, and yet we are still standing living breathing growing trying, we are moving adapting transitioning integrating. Dang we're good!

In the last hour, I have read three posts by widows that make me ask this question again. Two women found themselves in relationships that were completely untenable. Hell, I wouldn't even call them relationships. The situations were just so soul-damaging that I grieve for them.

The third widow has decided that she's boring and has nothing of interest to say to other people, while nothing could be farther from the truth.

It makes me crazy to see strong, wonderful women -- and men, too, btw -- denigrate themselves like this. Myself included. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we tear ourselves down, when we have accomplished so much? Why do we let other people bring us down, when we are so clearly worth more?

Of course, it may have nothing at all to do with widowhood. It may simply be that we are all so fragile on the inside, that it's simply part of being human. But why?

Satisfaction

... for a job well done.

I took down the tree today. And the garlands around the windows. And the remnants of the nativity background. And the snowmen in the window. And the bells in the other window. And the angels around the candles. And the secret things tucked in surprising corners for the unsuspecting eye to delight in.

AND ... I put them all away properly. Every year, I say Next year, I'm going to put these away properly. I'm going to sort and organize them so it won't be so hard to find what I'm looking for when I'm looking for it. This year, I did it.

AND ... I took the tree outside. I remembered to take the lights off after I took the tree out, so I didn't have 20 pounds of needles on my floor. Instead, I had only 10 pounds of needles. Note the past tense: had. And I vacuumed. Thoroughly. Everything. The living room and my bedroom -- which had been the staging area for all things Christmas -- are immaculate. Don't tell anybody, but I think this is the first time I vacuumed my bedroom since we moved into this house 3 months ago.

AND ... I polished the furniture in the living room. And moved all the furniture back into its non-Christmas state.

AND ... I horsed around with Rock; he and I had a great day together. HardPlace had spent the night at a friend's house and then gone to his soccer games with him. He didn't come home until after 4 p.m. So Rock and I had all day together, just us. We both enjoyed it immensely.

He helped with some of the ornaments; he helped with the vacuuming; he ran away from the Blanket Momster; he practiced jumping from high places; he ran away from the Tickle Momster; he made a habitat for his clay opossum -- which he made because HardPlace is making a diorama of a scene from Charlotte's Web for school; he told me he loved me; he ran away from the Kissing Momster; he kept me company; he puttered and played and did his own thing while I puttered and worked (played) doing my own thing.

Satisfaction. For a job well done. For a day well-spent. For a good life. In spite of it all, I do have a good life, and I am grateful.

Now, I have to shower and wash my hair. I stink from head to toe.

Done Too Soon

Turner Classic Movies is showing Cell 2455, Death Row tonight. The film is described as "The life of Caryl Chessman, condemned to the gas chamber." The name rings a bell, and I can't think why, so I google him. I know his name was in a song I heard a lot as a kid... what was the song? Ahh, yes. Neil Diamond, "Done Too Soon."
Jesus Christ, Fanny Brice
Wolfie Mozart and Humphrey Bogart
And Genghis Khan
And on to H. G. Wells

Ho Chi Minh, Gunga Din
Henry Luce and John Wilkes Booth
And Alexanders King and Graham Bell

Ramar Krishna, Mama Whistler
Patrice Lumumba and Russ Colombo
Karl and Chico Marx
Albert Camus,

E. A. Poe, Henri Rousseau
Sholem Aleichem and Caryl Chessman
Alan Freed and Buster Keaton too

And each one there
Has one thing shared
They have sweated beneath the same sun
Looked up in wonder at the same moon
And wept when it was all done
For bein' done too soon
For bein' done too soon
For bein' done

For bein' done too soon. For being done. Too soon.

Nick was done too soon. So was Tom. And Leonard. And Hannah. And Siep. And Chris. And Carol. And Rich. And Joe. And Don. And John. And Michael. And Andy. And Ray and Kate and Scott and Earl and Mark and Anna and Jeff and and Stewart and Hugh and Arlene and Dave and Alan and Bob and Suzanne and Greg and Larry and Debbi and too damn many to name.



I remember asking my mother who some of the people in the song were; she gave me vague one-word answers for many of them. The lyrics have hyperlinks for the names I know I did not know when I was 10 years old.

National Delurking Day!

Did you feel bad last week for not delurking on my birthday? I didn't ask for much, but you just couldn't do it. Well, here's another chance!


This is National Delurking Week, and today, January 10, is the official Delurking Day, so I say to you, Come forth!

What's your name? Where are you from? What's your major? What's your dad do? -- No that's not right. That was College New Student Week.

What's your name? Where do you work? Where did you go to school? -- Oops, that was my 20s.

What's your name? Which kid is yours? Who's his teacher? Where do you live? -- No, that's not it either.

What's your name? How'd you find me? What's your blog?

That's closer.

Answer any or all of the above questions, and I'll be happy. Just de-lurk darn it!

Berry good


As I was walking past this tree it said photograph me, so I did.

alien, n., adj.

adjective -- 1. not contained in or deriving from the essential nature of something
2. being or from or characteristic of another place or part of the world

noun -- 1. a person who comes from a foreign country; someone who does not owe allegiance to your country
2. anyone who does not belong in the environment in which they are found
3. a form of life assumed to exist outside the Earth or its atmosphere
"Has anyone seen my life? I'd like it back now, please." That was all I posted on the widow board yesterday, a flip little comment that somehow says it all. I have been feeling very alien lately, wondering where my life is, what I am doing.

It's a very common facet of grief and loss, actually. Our lives have been so radically altered that we don't recognize them anymore. Part of our task on the WidowRoad is to reclaim our lives, redefine ourselves, find a new life for ourselves.

I had been doing a pretty good job of that; I was actually feeling content and comfortable in my own skin again. But this move to Arizona and to my family has set me totally off kilter again. I miss my friends. I miss my church. I miss the simple rhythm of my days with the boys. I miss being in a space that is utterly my own.

I'm feeling lost again, sort of like I felt the second year after Nick's death -- I was still in too much shock the first year. I don't feel grounded anywhere, I don't have an anchor or roots. Everything seems to be so much work, take so long, seem so hollow. I don't get it; I just don't get it.

It's wonderful to have time with my mother and sister ... but I feel like I'm just playing, that none of this is real life.

Hmmm... maybe that's it, or part of it. The dynamics of being the baby of the family come back and it's hard to shake them off, even when I am in my own house, my own kitchen. I'm the baby, so I can't possibly be the responsible adult in the household; this is all pretend, make-believe.

I don't know, maybe not. I'm trying to figure things out here. What a mess.

Hi, Matthew

[an open letter to my BIL]

My site-tracker tells me you have found this blog. My first reaction was oh cr*p, I wonder if he's seen that post. Of course, I knew you had. How could you miss it? Then I braced myself for repercussions and wondered if I should call you or write you a note to temper what you read.

And I decided not to.

They say -- whoever "they" may be -- that you shouldn't put anything into writing that you wouldn't want someone to read, that you shouldn't expect anything that you put into cyberspace to remain private. Well, I probably never would have said the things I have written here to your face, but I doubt that anything you read surprised you. I never have had much of a poker face when it comes to how I feel about people.

This blog has been and will remain, among other things, my place to blow off steam and vent. So long as I treat you graciously and with respect in real life, I feel no shame or embarrassment about what I write here. Actually, I've mentioned you and the rest of the Rxxxx family in only a few of my posts, because this blog is about me, about my walk on the WidowRoad, my journey through life. For good or for ill, Nick's family has not played a huge role in that.

I know that you spent a fair bit of time today reading through my blog, going back and looking at some of my earliest writings. I hope that what you read has given you some insight into me -- who I am as a person, who I was as Nick's wife, who I am as his widow, what I struggle with and rejoice in. Who knows? Maybe your reading this blog will help us have a better relationship.

If you want to comment and let me know that you've read this letter, that would be great. If you want to comment on any other posts I've made, I'm okay with that too. I won't be changing my writing or deleting any posts just because I know you've found me.

I do hope, however, that you won't tell your parents or siblings about this blog; I don't write with the intent of hurting anyone. You found me, and I'm sure some of what I wrote stung you; there's no need to direct others here to read things that will hurt them.

-- Alicia, wondering if she's doing the right thing by posting this

Snow


We had some snow the other day.

Sparrer


An English House Sparrow that requires no CSIing, but I think it's the opposite sex to Gawpo's. Some of you may wonder what the hell I'm going on about, wifey often asks that.

Woohooiness!

I guess the squeaking wheel gets the grease after all.

The day after I whined about never getting an award from a fellow blogger, LauraH from I Promise Not To Laugh During the Seance -- bless her heart -- gave me the Bodacious Blog award.
Of course, I never even noticed; she had to come and tell me about it. You're the best, Laura! Thank you so much. I don't know if there is an award for it, but I do hereby name yours the

It cracks me up every time. I'm sure there's a story behind it, and I'd love to hear it if you ever feel so inclined.

For RachD

I've lurked at RachD's blog for a long time, and for the first time I wanted to post a substantive comment today. But it turned into a novel, so I decided to put it here instead. Her young daughter Hannah died unexpectedly this past summer...
My friend, Laura, who recently lost her husband, Leonard, and Betsy, who recently lost her husband, Jim, are also having a difficult time of it, if their recent blog posts are anything to go by. I have this horrible fear my post Christmas let-down is going to be more excruciating than it has ever been before.

Another widowed reader here ...

My Nicholas died in August 04. That first holiday season was brutal. A family wedding mid-November, Thanksgiving, St. Nicholas Day, Christmas, his birthday, our younger son's name day, New Year's Eve, my birthday, and Epiphany -- the night we would hold our annual chili-fest party. It was 7 weeks of hell, with one special and wonderful day after another.

I plowed through them with sheer determination. I was not going to let my utter misery "spoil" my sons' holiday season (they were 2 and 6 at the time). I smiled and laughed and even held our party -- albeit on a much smaller scale. When it was all done, I crashed. And I crashed hard.

I think it's like when you have a ton of work to do, important deadlines. Somehow, you get it all done, going on pure adrenaline, and when you are done, you get sick, really sick. Your body is worn out and rebels, "Enough." Grief is like that. You do what you have to do, and then it says, "Good girl. You did it. Now let go and collapse."

The shock of Hannah's death is passing. When your body has sustained a severe injury, shock protects you from reacting to all but the most extreme pain. Your soul has been in shock, and as that shock passes, you are going to feel how deep the pain goes. But you also have more strength than you did at first, so you will endure it. Your soul has been severely injured, and it's going to hurt -- really hurt -- for a long time.

I know that you have to keep life going as normally as possible for Brien and Lily. I know that you don't want to neglect the living because you are mourning the dead. But you also have to let yourself grieve, and sometimes the grief will bring you to your knees. You made it through "the first" holiday season without Hannah, and now you need to crash, to recover. Be as present to your husband and daughter as you can, but also give yourself the space to grieve, to wail, to feel, to breathe.

It will get better. I can't tell you when it will get better, but I can assure you that you won't always feel the way you do right now.

-- Alicia, wishing you a measure of peace today

PIG

I know I haven't been posting much lately, but hey, it's quality. Took this today on a day trip to Sewerby Hall

A little silliness

I know from responses to previous posts that I am not the only woman surrounded by Legos: Lego spaceships, Lego space stations, Lego houses, Lego beasts, Lego knights, Lego robots, Lego castles, Lego phantasmagoria, complete creations that must not be destroyed, partial creations awaiting completion, scarcely begun creations that have not evolved to their final identity, and roughly 90 million stray blocks waiting to injure me in retaliation for their long-lost brethren, sucked into the vacuum bag of annihilation.

I therefore present to you the perfect personality test:

Which Lego minifig are you?

I am the Classic High-tech Goodguy Citizen.
My minifig is the Blue Spaceman, found in set 6824, Space Dart I, 1984.




My score: 9 Classicness, 5 Technology, 4 Team, -6 Aggressiveness

[Disclaimer: This test came from the okcupid site, which is supposedly a dating site, although I can't imagine anyone uses it as such. It is also a source for more user-created tests than one can imagine. Some of the tests are good fun; others are a bit racy; still others are simply disgustingly gross. Browse the site at your own risk.]

Election year

Americans voted in a presidential election 4 years ago. I think. Maybe. I really don't recall. I know I didn't care.

It was less than 4 months after Nick's death. Politics was the last thing my wounded mind could think about. I would say, "Gee, I really should watch the debate tonight, or read this article." But I couldn't stomach it -- the talking heads weren't talking about anything important, about anything I could relate to, about anything in my world.

I voted, but it was more out of a sense of civic duty and social responsibility than anything. Maryland is not a swing state, there was no "race" to be won or lost, and my vote truly would be inconsequential.

This year, I am reading about the candidates. No, I am not watching the debates, because quite frankly the talking heads are all so artificial I can't stand them. (Please read that in your best Lina Lamont voice. And if you don't know what that means, get yourself to Blockbuster right now!) I don't know if Arizona is a swing state. While the candidates may talk about important issues, I don't think they address them in a way that matters, in a way that has any relevance to reality.

Do I have a favorite candidate? Not really. At this point, there are several people running -- all along the political spectrum -- whom I do not want to see in the White House, but nobody stands out as the one person I really want to vote for. What I do know and do care about is this:

Thank you!

Thank you for all your good wishes for my birthday!

My day got off to a great start with my sister coming by with flowers, balloons, and donuts. Yumm. And it ended with a lovely dinner at her house. Hooray for family.

I have special thanks for my lurkers who came out of the cybercloset to identify themselves. Don't be strangers.

Capricorn

Few people are as practical and ambitious as Capricorn. Yours is the tenth sign, an earthy element, which makes you down to earth and matter-of-fact. Caution is your second name and this is due to Saturn, your ruling planet. You are sometimes shy and lack self confidence and self-esteem.

I've never met a Capricorn who was afraid of hard work in order which to achieve what they want in life. You are ambitious and go for your dreams and usually end up successful. You like money but not if it involves risk. You prefer to know exactly where your dollars and cents are going. You prefer traditional types of savings.

Others do not generally see you as too enthusiastic but when people get to know you, you do have a side to your nature which is humorous and affectionate. You like to work quietly and effectively without creating too much bother or attention to yourself.

You are emotionally cool so you don't warm to people that easily until you get to know them. Once you get closer you start to feel comfortable with them. Suspicion is one of the chief traits of Capricorn and when you meet people for the first time it is your way of displaying maturity by not jumping the gun. You like to understand what another person is really about.

You are a big thinker even though you work methodically and practically by taking your time to achieve what you set out to do. You never like airy, fairy concepts and only work on ideas which will vouch safe your financial and material security in the future. You are not a clock watcher when you work because you believe in doing a job right the first time round. You also hate wasting time. You are frugal, resourceful and hard working. Commitment is natural to you which is why, as I said earlier, you are likely to be successful in anything you attempt.

Not all Capricorns are supported in their lives so you learned from an early age how to be self sufficient and to make it alone. You know exactly how to achieve your ambitions by yourself. Your primary philosophy is that self sufficiency is strength so you do not like to ask others to carry you. This also has a basis in the fact that you like to take full credit for what you achieve.

"Expect the worst but hope for the best" is a saying that I have often heard many Capricorns repeat. Basically you are very level-headed and don't expect things to happen overnight. People admire the way you work because you are motivated by your ambitions but also like to perfect your work and do it properly. You can always be relied upon to help others and not cut corners.

A traditional life style appeals to you because you like things in their place and need to be in control. Because of this you are not always the most exciting person to be around but you are extremely loyal and will never let anyone down when you give them your word. It does not seem to bother you that others see you as less adventurous. The name of the game to you is living life on your own terms rather than compromising.

Sometimes others make the mistake of thinking you are elitist. They get the sense you are looking down on them but this is not so because you are actually a very generous person with both your money and your time and if the cause is a worthy one there are fewer who are as generous as you.

Due to your cautious and meticulous mind you are a wonderful judge of character and can easily see through the BS. You are aware of the consequences of partnership both commercially and personally and are absolutely committed to your word.

If others get to know you they will understand that you are a very trustworthy, dependent, punctual individual that you can always be counted on to fulfil their needs and help them if the occasion arises.

In money matters you are extremely hard to deal with and are sometimes seen as being overly materialistic. Although you do drive a hard bargain your integrity always steers your course in life.

You have an incredible capacity to withstand the blows of life and even if times get tough your resilience and dedication is second to none. You gain greater strength than others from whatever misfortune occurs. You are like the steel under the blacksmith's hammer, getting stronger with every blow!

Your token is the Goat which shows just how capable you are of reaching the heights of any mountain. Your success is likely to occur later in life but when it does, you share what you have with others. You like measuring your success through what you have.

You expect people to be just as trustworthy as yourself. If you accept a responsibility you do so with full commitment. You always demand the same level of integrity from anyone you deal with both in the work place and at home.

You are sure to scale the heights of success and due to your keen focus, discipline and concentration your ruling planet Saturn insures a great deal of success, power and happiness. Capricorn stands for courage and achievement after a long and tedious effort.


Yup. Today is my birthday; I boldfaced the parts that describe me perfectly. Do you want to give me something? I want the lurkers to identify themselves!

On the will of God

I posted the following on the widow board this afternoon, in response to a few statements to the effect that people had lost their faith after the death of their spouse.
This topic comes up on the board from time to time, which is no surprise. A very natural response to the loss we have all endured is introspection and self-examination.

Why? is the one question I have never asked about Nick's death, or needed to ask. From the time he entered the coma to the time he took his last breath -- or rather to when the machine stopped breathing for him -- to this very moment, I never considered his illness and his death to be God's will. If I were to believe that, in even the tiniest corner of my soul, I would have to hate God forever.

It is a teaching of my faith that Death is the only power in the universe not created by God, that Death is, in fact, an insult to God. I never really understood that until I saw my Nicholas lying in the ICU -- so beautiful, so noble, so healthy and strong ... and all but dead. Then, I understood.

It is a teaching of my faith that God created us for Love and Glory, not for death and suffering. Death is a sign of the presence of Evil in the world -- and I cursed that foul tumor back to the bowels of Hell whence it sprang... to no avail.

After Nick died, after the funeral, after all... I yielded myself to God's will. For I believe that God's will is not found in the events of our lives, but in how we respond to those events. Some of my responses to Nick's death clearly manifested God's will in my life and in the lives of those around me; some did not.

Each day brings its own questions. How am I supposed to do this? When will I stop hurting? What next? Where do I go now? What do I want? Who am I? Who am I becoming? When will I see clearly? Questions, lots of questions ... but never Why?

I have more ponderings on the will of God...

I believe that in the dire circumstances of life -- the death of a loved one, the destruction of a community by flood or fire, and so on -- God's will becomes pretty clear. The choices I made in the wake of Nick's death were so clear to me. My decision to move to Arizona upon my mother's cancer diagnosis was absolutely, without question, the right thing for me to do, was clearly an act of following God's will.

But what about when we face a major decision, come to a life crossroads, and don't know what to do? The "right thing" isn't always clear-cut; God's will isn't always apparent.

If we are created for Love and Glory, then following God's will should lead us to Love and Glory. I truly believe that when we choose the "right thing" -- and yes, the right thing looks different to each one of us -- that choice will make us happy. No, it will make us joyful, it will make our life joyful, and we will joyfully do that which God has set before us -- even in times of sorrow and pain.

Experience has taught me one thing: When I am following God's will, when I am doing the right thing, I feel good, even if it's hard. I have energy to do that which is required of me. The move to Arizona is a case in point: It was incredibly hard and exhausting on so many levels -- but I did it. In just 6 weeks, I had packed up my house and moved the boys and myself across the country. IN 6 WEEKS!

There has been pain and sorrow in each of my life choices -- career, marriage, children, church. Yet there has also been life and joy. As I look to my future, I need to see where the love and glory are.

A New Year's blessing

Lord, You who live outside of time,
and reside in the imperishable moment,
we ask Your blessing this New Year's Day
upon Your gift to us of time.


Bless our clocks and watches,
You who kindly direct us
to observe the passing of minutes and hours.
May they make us aware of the miracle
of each second of life we experience.
May these our ticking servants
help us not to miss that which is important,
while You keep us from machine-like routine.
May we ever be free from being clock watchers
and instead become time lovers.

Bless our calendars,
these ordered lists of days, weeks, and months,
of holidays, holy days, fasts and feasts --
all our special days of remembering.
May these servants, our calendars,
once reserved for the royal few,
for magi and pyramid priests,
now grace our homes and our lives.
May they remind us of birthdays and other gift-days,
as they teach us the secret
that all life
is meant for celebration
and contemplation.

Bless, Lord, this new year,
each of its 366 days and nights.
Bless us with new moons and full moons.
Bless us with happy seasons and a long life.
Grant to us, Lord,
the new year's gift
of a year of love.

Amen.

(From Prayers for the Domestic Church: A Handbook for Worship in the Home)

Feed the ducks


The thing with lakes and ponds is they usually have ducks on them, and if Harry sees ducks he has to feed them. It has got to the point where we have to keep a loaf of bread in the boot of the car, just in case. If the top 3 ducks in the picture are Mallards, does anyone know what the one at the bottom is?