Dates remembered

I was talking to my dear friend who is Back from Bosnia (she used to sign her comments as Bosnia Bound or Love from Bosnia, but now she's back stateside, hooray!). Over the course of our phone call, August came up a few times. Talking about how fast the summer has gone by: Tomorrow is August 1st. Talking about my sister being out of the country right now, leaving me alone while Mother is in the hospital: And she doesn't get back until August 6th.

Heartbeat.
Heartbeat.
Heartbeat.

And two days later is August 8th.
I know.
And nobody here will think about it or mention it.
No?
No. Because everything will be all about Jane's being back and her trip, and about Mother's surgery and her getting out of the hospital. August 8 will get lost. Or if they do think about it, they won't say anything, because I should be over it by now.


If I were over it by now, I wouldn't be crying as I think about it. As I think about August. About August 1st and August 8th.

To read about July 31, 2004, click here.

Just the facts, ma'am

1. One surgeon was able to remove the ostomy bag and put Mother back together.
2. He said it went more easily than he had expected.
3. The other surgeon saw residual traces of cancer in her abdomen: small nodules on the diaphragm and at the pelvic end of the abdominal cavity.
4. She recommends four more 3-week cycles of chemotherapy.
5. Mother has said she will not do any more chemo; she may change her mind.
6. Without further chemo, the nodules could lie dormant for a long time, or they could get active and aggressive at any time.
7. With chemo, the nodules could probably be eradicated.
8. After 8 hours at the hospital, on 4 hours of sleep, I am too tired to comment on these facts.

Holding my breath

Mother has a whole battery of tests today, the outcome of which will determine whether or not she can have surgery on Wednesday. If tests come back with an "all-clear," first the oncological surgeon will do a laparoscopy to see how her abdominal cavity looks. If everything looks fine, the other surgeon will take away the ostomy bag and resect her bowel. Sorry, I guess I should have had a "TMI" warning.

Prayers, please ... for good results today and success on Wednesday.

Updated, 1:00 p.m. -- All the tests took nearly 2 hours longer than she'd been told, but the results so far are all clear. By Wednesday morning, they'll have the blood work done.

Mother's anxiety level is climbing. She is so desperate for this surgery to be done, and she'll be so depressed if they can't put her back together. I hate this waiting, for her and for myself.

Dinner with the widows

A small group of widoweds from Phoenix/Tucson came to my place last night. It was just so good to relax and laugh. The more important part for me is that this was the first non-family party I've hosted since being in Arizona. I have missed that: the anticipation, the preparation, the busyness, the satisfaction.

Hospitality was a centerpiece of what Nick and I showed the world about our marriage: We opened our home widely and gladly, offering freely to others that with which we had been so richly blessed -- and I don't mean simply the material gifts of food and shelter. Nick taught me about hospitality; it's not something that came naturally to me. I will be forever grateful to him for that gift.

Weekend Away

Well all back from my weekend away... was so so much fun. Met a bunch of new people so that was great as well.

We got there a bit later than we thought, as Mildred (the GPS lady voice) thought it would be a good idea to take us right through the center of pretoria city. But in the end we got there safe and sound.

Everyone was chilled on Friday and we just braaied and talked rubbish around the fire, still ended up only hitting the hay at about 5am.


Sam (one of the girls staying in the same chelate as me) thought it would be a good idea to get up at 8am and start slamming doors, Me (still feeling the affects of half a case of beer) did not think this was such a good idea.

But now I was up, and thought about us being here to celebrate Mandy's 21st, it would be rude not to. So Stew threw me a beer...

I then had a nasty fight with a wheel barrow (thats all i am saying)



We all headed out to the local pub to go watch the rugby (not one of SA's best games) and then went to the reptile park where some stupid guy is sitting in a cage with 40 deadly snaked www.madmartin.co.za Stews Girl friend (Mariska) decided that she wanted to go inside the cage and get a closer look.....



Then we were back to the party.....

It was fun and Games and Games and Games when we got back... cricket, indian war signs... Fun was had all round...

The food was also amazing.. we had a big spit and tons and tons of other stuff...

We partied till 6:30 and then knew it was time to get to bed...

Thanx again Mandy for such a great weekend...

Mariska, Francois, Stew, Carmen

Mariska

BaZZa (ME)

Mariska, Stew

Brett

Mandy, Me
Christelle
Sam, Liesl, ....

Sam, Me
Mariska, Stew

Francois

Me, Francois

Mandy, Rolanda

Jacques

BaZZa

Mandy


The death of Randy Pausch

The man who gained international fame for delivering a "Last Lecture" after being diagnosed with terminal cancer has died at the age of 47. I suspect that I hold a minority opinion, but I was not impressed by him.

I have watched much -- but I admit, not all -- of the video that has been described as uplifting, powerful, inspiring, etc. Yes, the words are there, the message is there. But as I watched, I was not moved; it all felt so empty. Yes, he talks frankly about the knowledge that he is dying; but he's also doing vigorous push-ups on the stage. He talks about reaching for your dreams, living life to the fullest; but he has not yet encountered the dreadful reality. I felt that he didn't know what he was talking about, that he was whistling in the dark.

He said that he wanted his children to grow up knowing how much he loved them, how much he loved their mother, his wife. He leaves behind a marvelous video for them to watch, to see him, to hear him. But that will never be enough. I could not be moved by Dr. Pausch's speech, but I do feel for his widow, for his children. No matter how much time they have had to "prepare," to "grieve in advance," the reality will now swallow them in ways they could never imagine. And I am so sorry for them.

May Dr. Pausch's memory be eternal; may his widow Jai remember to breathe, may she find comfort in unexpected places, may she have some measure of peace today and in the dark, terrible days to come.

Six years ago today

My little family's lives were changed in ways beyond our comprehension -- and we didn't even know it. Rock was born on this date in 2002, but he was 6 weeks old before the adoption counselor called to tell us about him. For various reasons, she wanted to wait until the parents' right to change their minds about making an adoption plan had expired.

She told us his story, and asked Are you interested? Is she kidding? Of course! Well, sleep on it. The next day: Yes, we want this baby. Okay, let me check my calendar. Can you come in next Thursday to meet the foster mother and take him then? THURSDAY?!?!? Are you kidding!?! I want to bring my son home as soon as possible. How about tomorrow?

"Tomorrow" was Saturday, and they wouldn't let us get him over the weekend. We had to wait until Tuesday to bring our darling boy home. And our lives were irrevocably changed.

Rock is nothing less than an explosive force of nature. He is joyful and enthusiastic about life and living. He is loud, destructive, and utterly affectionate. Nothing shakes him; nothing bothers him (except tarantulas on the window and rattlers by the birdbath). He is, first and foremost, ROCK.

I love you forever, my sweet little boy.

Replacements

This is the platter Mother gave us for a wedding present; she had it engraved on the back:

Nick and Alicia
September 5, 1992
Love from Mother and Jim

It was stolen from my home in Maryland last summer while the boys and I were out here in Arizona (stolen by a friend of a friend of the fellow I had trusted to watch over things). Two matching bowls, also wedding presents, were also taken. I was crushed and sickened; I felt angry, violated, and heartbroken. Yes, they are only things, and objects can be replaced. But the gifts and their significance could never be replaced.

I have hosted several holiday and birthday dinners without them, and every time I have wished I had my "furniture" (the platter weighs almost 9 pounds -- 8-3/4 pounds, to be exact). Last month, I finally asked the young man who was responsible for my house to replace the stolen pieces. They arrived today.

I wasn't expecting a package, so when UPS came, I assumed it was something from my in-laws for Rock's birthday (which is tomorrow). When I saw the return address, I got the worst feeling in my stomach, queasy and nauseous and sick with loss all over again. I was busy, so I just set it aside. It still wouldn't be open, except the boys were all excited about the BIG BOX.

The new pieces are so shiny. So pristine. So beautiful. They make me miss my pristine and beautiful life, my well-worn and beautiful pieces, my well-worn and beautiful life. The future shined like these new pieces when Nick and I received the original set; it now seems so dull and lifeless in comparison. Nick and I looked forward to years of family dinners when we opened our gifts; we will never sit down for a meal together again. We were given so much; we had so much; I have lost so much.

Yes, I am rebuilding my life. Yes, I do have a good life. Yes, I can look toward the future.

But these replacement pieces of Wilton-Armetale servingware simply remind me that my life and I -- and the things I treasure -- will never be the same. And for today, that makes me so very sad.

I'm thinking, by the way, of having the platter engraved on the back:

Nick and Alicia
Always and forever unto ages of ages
Amen

(which is how the priest concludes the liturgical prayers of our tradition)

I love road trips -- Part 2

The best thing by far about road trips is coming home.

Aaaaaaahhhhh.

TechnoMom rocks!

We were driving down the highway on Day One of our road trip, and *poof* the boys' DVD player stopped working. Just like that. When I was a kid, we didn't have DVDs to keep the silence on road trips, but with my father's long arm and hard slaps -- we didn't need them. What was I to do?

It occurred to me to test the cigarette lighter itself, and sure enough, it didn't work either. This had happened before, so -- thanks to Ron -- I knew what to do. I took off the side panel by the steering wheel, pulled out the blown fuse, and put a new fuse in. Lo and behold -- the DVD worked! We drove through the McDonalds and continued happily on our way.

Impressed? But wait -- there's more!

A few days ago, the boys' computer stopped working. The CPU itself worked, but nothing would show up on the monitor. I opened up the box, blew all the dust out with compressed air, and reseated the video card. Dang. It still didn't work. But I was still reasonably sure the video card was at fault. So I bought a new video card, and lo and behold, the monitor worked!

I correctly diagnosed the problem; I bought the CORRECT part (there are three kinds of video cards, and they are not interchangeable); and I installed it correctly the FIRST time.

Go, TechnoMom, go!

Good Times, Out With Friends

Have not posted much lately but here with a few pics of a few nights out while i have been MIA...

Im really looking forward to this weekend, its Mandy's 21st and we are all going away for the weekend... should be very good fun... will post pics when im back....

Mandy and Liesel

BaZZA Famous look

BaZZA Serious Look

Have NO!! idea who the people in this pic are...

BaZZA

Rhain, Jaques, Mandy and Liesel

They like the BUT....

Rhain

Rhain Big fall (you would know if u were there)


I love road trips!

The boys and I are heading out tomorrow for another little jaunt. Since my sister is out of town, we can't be gone as long as I would like.

We'll drive through Monument Valley, the iconic image of the American West.

Then we'll make a detour and stop at the Four Corners Monument. HardPlace learned about it in school this last year and he's been begging to go. For my non-US friends, it's the only place where you can be in four states at one time.

Then we'll spend a whole day at Mesa Verde -- one of the most extensive sites of ancient cliff dwellings. The next day we'll drive home (or as far as I can), by way of Shiprock -- which really does look like a mighty ship on the horizon, visible for a hundred miles.

We'll actually spend the night on the Mesa. When Nick and I went to Mesa Verde back in 1993, we hadn't realized there were lodgings up there. We hated to leave the place before sunset, but we didn't want to drive down the mountain in the dark, so we promised to come back and stay on the Mesa. It will be sweet to watch that sun set and hold him in my heart.

Spiders are one thing ...

tara1
tara and hand

but this is RIDICULOUS!!

Some things are just too much fun


On this date ...

... in 1927, my father was born.

... in 2002, my father died.

The years in between are filled with stories of brilliance and betrayal, love and brutality. I loved my "father," but I stopped loving "the man" when I grew mature enough to see him and know him.

He never hesitated to do whatever served his purpose, and even in his death he contrived to cause more pain to his children who wanted nothing more than his love. I struggled my entire adult life to forgive him and be reconciled with him, but to no avail.

I have wept tears of anger and pain, sadness and love over that man.
I have rejected him utterly and held him in the tenderest place in my heart.
I have withdrawn in horror at what I have seen and acknowledged the parts of me that are so very much like him.

My "daddy" disappeared when I was a very little girl, but I always hoped that he could be a father. Maybe in some other time, some other place, he can be.

Getting to know you


Getting to know you, getting to know all about you.
Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me.
Getting to know you, putting it my way,
But nicely,
You are precisely,
My cup of tea.

Last night was pleasant, but maddeningly superficial. I've gotten so used to knowing all about people before I meet them, that I'm not sure I know how to do it the "normal" way anymore -- and I'm not talking only about dating.

I've always said that my widow friendships are unique, because we know each other from the inside out. By the time we meet face-to-face (IF we meet face-to-face), we already know what each other's life-changing event was; we've seen how they responded to the death of their loved one, how that death shaped them. Only gradually do we learn the surface stuff.

Last night wasn't "disappointing" really, but it just struck me that I no longer make friends the way everyone else does. Part of the problem is that being a SAHM, I don't have the opportunity to see the same people at work, day in and day out, and get to know them that way. Living at the end of a cul-de-sac, with the closest kids over a block away, I don't have the opportunity to see the same moms, day in and day out, and get to know them that way.

The other part of the problem is that I want to get to the heart of the matter, to the heart of a person. Yes, I want to know the surface stuff, and I can chat glibly about it, but -- aaaaaaarrrrggghhhh -- as you tell me the surface stuff, I want to know how it is connected to the inner stuff. All those pieces of information remain just that -- pieces of trivia with no meaning -- unless I can see how they fit together and how they have shaped and been shaped by the underlying individual.

Yeah, I know. Learning that about someone takes time. But I'm not used to working my way IN to that level of knowledge; I'm used to working my way OUT. I have to figure out how do it the usual way.

Hmmmm....

Mr. LPOP has chosen one of the nicest restaurants on this side of town for our date tonight. Looks promising.

Since so many only "have my happiness in mind," I know that I'd be in trouble if I didn't let you know how the evening was. We had a nice dinner -- crab cake appetizers and mahi mahi entree -- and nice conversation. It was very enjoyable, but very much on the surface.

He'll probably call again, and we'll probably go out again. Even though there were no sparks, no chemistry, it was nice just to be out and talk.

More thoughts tomorrow...

Another quick getaway

The boys and I made an overnight trip to the southeast corner of Arizona yesterday.

We started in Tombstone -- gunfight at the OK Corral and all. The boys loved the reenactment, of course. I'm going to have to find a decent biography of Wyatt Earp: I didn't get it quite clear, but apparently he wasn't a noble lawman as all the old movies would have you believe. In fact, the grave markers at Boot Hill say that the Clantons were MURDERED by the Earps and Doc Holliday.

Then we went to Bisbee and toured the old copper mine. I'd been there last summer and I knew the boys would love it. They did -- and they even acknowledged some apprehension as the rattly train entered the mine. Yup, they both said they were a little afraid. It's nice to know that SOMETHING shakes them up.

We stayed the night in Sierra Vista, which is just a small town, but in a truly lovely setting. I like it a lot more than Tucson -- it has REAL TREES!!!! Then this morning, we went to Kartchner Caverns. Wow. The amazing thing about these caverns is that they were discovered in the 1970s by two teenagers; the teenagers kept quiet about them for several years before telling the landowners. Then THEY kept quiet about it until they realized that private individuals could not maintain the sanctity of the caves and they brought in the State of Arizona. The general public did not know about the caverns until the bill was signed making them a state park.

The silence may not seem like a big deal to you, but I cannot imagine having found this amazing place and keeping it a total secret for 14 years -- one of the caver's own sisters didn't know about it, because he knew she'd blab it across the backyard fence. If I found something so amazing, I would have to tell SOMEONE. Anyway, they are wonderful and as near pristine as can be. Just last month I read an article about the caves in France where the famous cave paintings are, that they are deteriorating because of all the people going in and out, bringing in outside contaminants, changing the humidity, etc. The people at Kartchner go to great lengths to keep it a living cave, and it's a wonder to behold.

PS to the enquiring minds (and you know who you are, even if you DON'T live in Reno): Mr. LPOP did call me on Monday when he got back to Arizona. He didn't even wait until he got home; he was driving by my neighborhood on his way home from the airport and thought of me so he called. (No, he hasn't been to my house, but I told him I live on Dove Mountain, and he knows where that is. He gave me his cross-streets, and were as close to neighbors as it gets around here -- he's maybe 15 minutes away.)

Anyway, he called Monday while I was at the OK Corral. I texted that I'd call him later, which I did. We talked briefly last night and then again this afternoon when I got back home. And yes, we are going out for drinks on Thursday night.

Another fellow has expressed interest in my profile; he's "okay," and we've IMd a few times. But he's already started with the innuendo cr*p and I am just not into that. Although if Mr. LPOP fizzles, maybe I'll meet Mr. Innuendo for a drink and a flirt. Who knows...

Are your prurient minds satisfied?

I guess I won't fill the birdbath right now after all -- UPDATED


Click on the picture and move to the middle to get a better view. Twenty minutes after taking that picture, and five minutes after making my original post, I took this photo.


The little burrowing owls come every night for water -- of course that was why Mr. Snake was there. I guessed that Snake killed Owl, and then one of Owl's friends returned the favor. I brought the boys out to see. And as we were moving in for a closer look...


HOLY CR%P!

Not dead ... just MAD. On thinking about it, I realized that the snake had to go upside down in order to let its astounding jaw unhinge and open wide enough to eat dinner.

My heart is still pounding!

"Perfect"

That was what the doctor said after Mother's colonoscopy today. "Perfect." No cancer visible anywhere. This clears the way for the next step: putting her colon back together and giving her back her dignity and quality of life. It's amazing that the good news continues.

Thank you for all your good wishes and continuing prayers -- and to Natasha Darling for giving me a nudge to post this wondrous news.

New Motto To Live By

New Motto From my good mate Bradly Swart...

"ye, my motto that i've come up with is, if you can't see and don't think that I am worth your time and effort then please don't waste mine"

So sick of being stuffed around....

Christmas in July

Hey BazzaReiders....

Me and my mates are having a Christmas in July party on the 25.... Post a comment if u have any coooool ideas...

We have been trying to find a snow machine but with no luck...

And yes it will all be on my Cam :D

More Parts Arived

Yesterday more parts arrived from the UK, the A/D converters (Analogue to digital). The parts seem to be coming from all over the world. Once again the parts are tiny so our work is going to be cut out for us...