Giving thanks


Words of gratitude
stumble through the pain of loss.
But yes, Lord: Thank you.


Silent gratitude
breathing, being, believing.
Oh, yes! I thank you.

Let the mayhem begin

This morning:

1. Make hummus.
2. Make tabouleh.
3. Scrub the boys' bathroom for company.

This afternoon, Mother will come over to consume hummus and tabouleh while we cook.

4. Make cheesecake.
5. Make sweet potatoes.
6. Cube bread and chop onions for tomorrow's stuffing.
7. Put extra leaf in dining room table and iron damask tablecloth.

Tomorrow morning:

8. Make the stuffing.
9. Stuff the bird and stick it in the oven.
10. Rinse all the dust off the holiday crystal.
11. Buff the silver.
12. Set the table.
13. Make the boys clean the TV room and gather all the Legos and Nerf darts into one place that is not the living room.

Tomorrow afternoon:

14. Make cranberry relish.
15. Make red wine cranberry sauce.
16. Sautee mushrooms for green beans and gravy.
17. Make Rock wash his handprints off the living room window.
18. Make HardPlace gather his burned out cap rolls off the front walkway.
19. Welcome guests and pop the champagne cork.
20. Steam the veggies.
21. Heat the sweet potatoes.
22. Make the gravy.
23. Refill the wine glasses.
24. Gather family and food at the table.
25. Lift my glass and toast the memory of my husband and brother.
26. Offer thanks for all that we have been given, for the time to love and laugh in the fullness of our hearts.

and oh, yes, lest I forget:

1-26. Pray that Rock's fever goes away and that HardPlace stops vomiting.

All Quiet on the Western Front

I'm alive and well, but there's nothing worth reporting on...

New DW Wireless Tower

We built a new tower to replace the old FG tower... here are a few pics of our hard work....

Curri Cup Final... Sharks WON!!!

We all went to Richies place for a poitjie and rugby... Game ended up with all the sharks fans very happy....

Richie... Making our food

Mariska, Stew, Christof, Me

Me, Mandy

Stew trying and succeeding to pull off a Taliban look

Some Random Night

I cant remember when this was....

Photographic evidence

Here is a picture of the damage done to the neighbor's car.

What? Don't you see that terrible scratch? The huge gouge? I know: The reflection makes it hard to see.

Let me show you from a different angle.

Look! Right there .... you may need to squint a bit ... two huge awful terrible scratches. Can you BELIEVE it???

Yup. Photographic evidence that my neighbor is an absolute jerk.


I've written before that Nick and I had a Bach cantata that was "our" cantata; we used to sing the duet to each other.

Mein Freund ist mein, Thy love is mine
und ich bin sein, and I am thine!
die Liebe soll nichts scheiden. True lovers ne'er are parted.

The music from the cantata ran through our wedding, as prelude, as entry hymn, as exit hymn. It's drawn from the Song of Solomon, and it's "ours." We played the cantata as we drove off on our honeymoon, and when I looked at him during this duet, tears were streaming down his face.


I had a weepy night last night. (I watched Thursday's Grey's Anatomy, and the two main story lines had me bawling: One about an old woman who doesn't survive her brain tumor surgery and her broken-hearted husband and the other about a doctor remembering the death of her fiancee and knowing that she will always love him and feel his absence.)

This morning I was reading the Washington Post online, which I always do, and I read my horoscope, which I never do.

Ummmm.... wow.

I know it's not a sign from Nick, because I don't believe in them. (You know what I mean, the way people knew Christopher Columbus was going to fall off the edge of the earth because they didn't believe him when he said the earth is round.)

So, I know it's not a sign, but DANG! I sure am glad I read my horoscope today, because it brought a huge smile to my soul.

A date to remember:

November 7, 2008

If I were a good mom, maintaining the boys' baby books, my entry for this date would read something like this.

November 7, 2008 -- On this date, for the first time, the cops came to my front door because of something you had done. What the HELL were you thinking?!

And so it begins: My children are entering the life of delinquency to which they have been fated by the absence of a strong male role model in their family.*

Let me tell you what happened...

I had a play date yesterday. Nancy is about my age; her over-educated husband (MS-MBA) was laid off and the only stable job he could find is in Arkansas. They had just moved here a year ago from Louisiana for his job and decided that they weren't going to uproot their kids again. So Nancy is essentially living the life of a single mom and has gotten just a taste of what my life has been these last few years. Her two sons are the same ages as Rock and HardPlace, but the younger one is in kindergarten this year because his birthday is even later in the year than Rock's. HardPlace and her older boy have not been in the same classes, but they know each other from lunch and the playground.

Our boys are also of the same temperament: HardPlace and W are quiet, introspective, and shy. Rock and P are hell on wheels. Everyone got along great. Nancy and I sat in the backyard watching the sunset and drinking wine; the boys played in their bedrooms and the tv room and all over the house, having a grand old time. When the moms came in to refill wine glasses and make dinner, the boys went outside to play in the cul-de-sac. Ahhhh, life is good.

I was draining the noodles when the big boys came in dragging the little ones: Tell them what you did. Tell them! What did you do? Rock -- tell me what you boys did. We ... sniffle ... broke the neighbor's lights. What lights? The ones along their driveway. Okay, let's go over and take a look.

Sure enough, the boys had smashed the bulbs of four or five of the lights along the driveway of the house at the end of the cul-de-sac.
What were you thinking? Why did you do this? I don't know.

Nancy and I marched the culprits to the front door and rang the doorbell. I have only met this woman one other time, and have only seen her a handful of times in the year that I have lived here. Hi.... I have a friend over, and our kids were playing outside. Boys, tell her what you did.

The woman, who is younger than I am and has a teenage son, sort of giggle-laughed and said that it's okay, and she's very glad they came and told her about it. I told her how sorry I am and that of course we'll pay for repairs. Nancy and I sighed and we all went back inside for dinner. (I should have pulled the pork chops out of the broiler before going to the neighbor's house.)

Twenty minutes later, we were all still sitting around the table when the doorbell rang. Ugh. I assumed it was her husband. Wrong. It was the police. My neighbor had told her husband who inpected everything and found some scratches on his car. So he called the police, because this isn't the first time we've had problems here.

It's not? I said quizzically. What else has happened?
Your son was throwing rocks from the bluff into the street. Remember?
Oh, yeah... last year...

I assured them that I'd pay for the damage. The police officer said that he has to file a report, but he'll list it as a miscellaneous incident, not as vandalism. I went back inside and quizzed the the boys.

What else did you boys do?
Ummm... we played football.
No. At the neighbors house?
To their car?
Did you scratch their car with a rock?
NO! No, Mom, we DIDN'T!

So I took Rock back over and showed him the car. I didn't do that Mom. Really, we didn't do that! I looked at the policeman and said to my neighbor, I believe him. I don't think he did it AND to keep peace I will pay for the damages.

We went back inside. Nancy and I dismissed the boys to the back of the house and didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. I wanted to cry (and did) because this is so damn hard to deal with alone. And I had to laugh (and did) because in the grand scheme of things, it's so stinkin' insignificant. I mean, really. Who calls the cops on a 6-year-old kid? As Nancy put it to me: My husband is in Arkansas; yours is dead. My brother is dead; yours is dead. My dad is dead; yours is dead. My best friend's daughter may die because she tried to jump from the swing set to the trampoline; your mother will die of cancer. Who the fuck CARES about a little scratch on a car?

And really, what kind of jerk calls the cops on a 6YO whose mom has already brought him over to take responsibility for something? We didn't HAVE to ring the doorbell, but we did. Why did he call the police instead of just coming over himself to talk to me? WTF?

Anyway... This morning, Rock picked up all the big pieces of broken glass and helped me sweep up the little ones. He has been banned from the computer. He still denies scratching the car, but he'll be writing a letter to the neighbor to apologize for breaking the lights.

What else am I supposed to do?

* No, I do not believe this. It's my attempt to deal sarcastically with every widowed mom's greatest fear for her male children.

I love my new shoes!

Furry slippers are the best!

Maslow had it right

Barbara liked my post yesterday, but I have to give credit to where credit is due.

In 1943, Abraham Maslow presented a paper on human motivation, on the fundamentals of life that direct our energy. His hierarchy of needs has been taught in high school and college courses ever since.

I first learned this pyramid in high school, but my teenage mind didn't really appreciate it. A conversation I had in college with a very conservative Christian opened my eyes to it.

We were talking about starvation in whichever part of the world had the media's attention at that point. I remember being angry that people were dying of hunger and preventable disease in a world so full of resources. Kathy said (amazing that I remember her name after all these years) that she wished she could go preach the gospel to them so they could accept Jesus, because then they wouldn't care that they were starving. WHAT?! The peace of God would give them all the strength they needed; they could embrace their suffering and learn to love Jesus even more through it; they would know that when they died they would be in Heaven.

Wow. Maslow's hierarchy suddenly made absolute sense to me.

To be fair to Kathy, wherever she may be right now, that was the voice of a sheltered 19YO girl, a new convert to Christianity, whose sole enthusiasm at the time was saving other people's souls. I'm sure that now, some 30 years later, she would have a different, more holistic -- and even holier -- response.

Thirty years later, I certainly have a more experiential understanding of what Maslow was saying. This crazy road of life that we all walk on demands so much of us, even if one isn't on the WidowRoad detour.

I have learned many things these last 4 years, including this: As a rule, people do the best they can with the lives they lead and the people in their lives. Yes, there are exceptions -- terrible irritating infuriating aggravating outrageous exceptions. But I truly believe that most people want to be good people. I still have little tolerance for fools and idiots (me? judgmental? name-calling?), but I am more forgiving of human foibles then I once was.


I'm encouraged to see that those who participated in my utterly nonscientific poll are voting FOR their candidates this year. So far not one person has said they are merely voting against the opposition, which I have done in more recent elections than I care to think about. (You can check the results at any time by clicking on "View.")

Half the respondents report that their vote is AGAINST the opposition as well as FOR their candidate. This result points to the continued polarization in American politics and society. I think, however, that in both the 2000 and 2004 elections the polarization was much greater, and more people would have said that they were mostly voting against the opposition.

Dare I hope that the vocal enthusiasm for the candidates will translate into continued participation in civic life? Probably not. It would be nice to think that the current crises in our country have shaken Americans from their perceived complacency and apathy, but I'm afraid I don't believe that is true.

Nick died just 3 months before the 2004 elections, and I really couldn't have cared less about the debates and issues. I made myself go to the polls and vote -- against a candidate, rather than for one -- but politics was so far away from the reality of my life that the election hardly seemed to matter.

I think I have realized that for most of us, life is hard ... it's just too damn hard to muster the resources to DO something about the issues that are greater than our immediate world. Most people know that one person CAN make a difference, but I see that most people are already stretched to the breaking point.

Most people are trying to make ends meet, or worrying about their kids, or mourning the death of a loved one, or caring for a terminally ill family member, or fighting to keep their jobs, or battling an addiction in themselves or a family member, or trying to save their marriages, or waiting for someone to come home from the war. Or they are paralyzed by dread of the day when they have to do one of these things.

Life is hard. If you are lucky enough to NOT see yourself in the previous paragraph, offer a word of thanks. Offer thanks and muster the resources to make a difference -- on the political scene, on behalf of a cause you believe in, or in the life of just one person in your community.

Just curious: Take my poll

Whom are you voting for in the presidential election?
I'm not voting.

Now here's the question that really interests me:

Regardless of whom you are voting for, how did you make your choice:
Voting FOR my candidate
Voting AGAINST the other candidate
Both for my choice AND against the opposition
I told you: I'm not voting

If you are eligible to vote in this election and you are NOT voting, please leave a comment telling me why you are not voting.

Thanks for participating!

What a getaway

Right now, my mom feels good -- she has some bad days, and she gets tired easily, but for the most part she is doing well.

On Wednesday, she and I and my sister (and another woman whom all of us really like) went to Sedona for an overnight getaway, leaving Rock and HardPlace with my brother-in-law. NO BOYS ALLOWED!

We had the BEST time, from start to finish. We laughed and drank and giggled and shopped and laughed and ate and utterly left the world behind for 36 hours. It was wonderful. Sedona is incredibly beautiful, and it has great art galleries and shops and Native American crafts.

We intended to spend the day window shopping, but we all wound up spending more money than we'd imagined -- and it was great fun. When we needed a break from the exertion of choosing our purchases and giving the clerk our credit cards, we ate lunch at an outdoor cafe (in a shaded courtyard) simply basking in the pleasure of one another's company for 2 hours. The margaritas were excellent and the creme brulee was better.

I am so glad to be here with my mom and sister: We have alway really LIKED each other and gotten along well together. We haven't traveled much together in a long time -- the last time the three of us went off without husbands and kids was 1989 (granted, I had neither husband nor kids at that point), so this trip was long overdue.

My big news for y'all is that we have a major family vacation planned, because Mother DOES feel so good right now. In December, Jane and her husband and Mother and I and the boys are going on a 2-week cruise from San Diego to Hawaii (and back): 4 days at sea, 5 days at different ports, and 4 days at sea. We are all so excited.