Friday, May 30, 2008

The Week that Was

Happily I am approaching the end of this crazy week. Just days ago I was lamenting the fact that the days pass too quickly at this age, but I am most anxious for a fresh start here. With my brother's serious illness, losing baby Izzie and today learning that my dearest childhood friend died of cancer yesterday, I am ready for a break. For many years I have had a very weird relationship with the 29th day of each month. It started on Oct 29, 1962 when, pregnant with daughter #1, I was in a terrible car accident and was unable to walk for 3 months, all the while suffering horrendous morning went on from there. Brother Marty's accident which left him paralyzed occurred on June 29, 1975, three relationships have ended on the 29th of the month and there are so many other things, I cannot remember right now. Anyway, it certainly should be a happy day as my dear parents were married on May 29, 1942. Yesterday would have been their 66th wedding anniversary. I am sure it was a hard day for Dad as he misses Mum so very much.
It is also the wedding anniversary of my youngest brother. He and his wife honored my parents by marrying on that day and it has been a strong and enduring marriage.
So I am planning to start a new week off by spending it with Dad and my grandson, Matthew, and I know it will be a time of remembering Mum but it will also be a reminder of what a wonderful family and gift I was given because my Mum and Dad were wed on the 29th of the month.

Speaking of memories, when I told one of my sisters about the death of our childhood friend, Susan, yesterday she brought up some of the great things we all did on the list were the dances we used to hold in the garage at Susan's house. It would have been 1957-1959 or so and we would work for days, cleaning the garage, planning the music and food and inviting BOYS. It was such fun, so innocent, and I can still remember dancing with David Clifford to "Blue Moon". We also spent countless hours playing Monopoly in the cottage at Susan's, went to the beach a lot, and talked on the phone endlessly about everything under the sun but mostly where we thought our lives would go, and in those years, we just wanted to be married and have children and a nice house, etc. Her parents took us places when my parents could not, as they were so busy running the farm, and Susan and her sister loved to come to our house because my mother was the most wonderful cook and prepared world-class meals everyday. Susan was the glamorous one. She was always a dog lover and in the early years they had a Basengi named Tippy who used to come to visit my mother....Tippy would howl on the back porch for a treat from Mum's kitchen. Susan moved away to New Orleans after HS, and after a brief ill-fated marriage, had a long career and interesting life in the hotel management world. In the 80's she returned here and married one of the boys who used to attend our garage dances. It was like a wonderful dream for her and she was very, very happy until the end. She also, at age 50 returned to college and became an R.N. It was an amazing pursuit of a long-held dream and she did it! I was so proud of her for succeeding. She never did stop smoking and I am certain that is what brought her to the end of her journey here. SAD!

Marty had a fairly good day today and Dr's are still evaluating what will happen with the other infected area - his hip - which will need major surgery to remove the infected tissue and bone. There were consultations with a plastic surgeon on that today.

LM is fishing tonight and then coming to join me around 10:00 pm...truthfully, I think he is coming to visit his girlfriend, Ms. Graysea, but we shall see. The week is already improving.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Kitten Update

Off to the races - Theo & Izzie

As I promised on Tuesday, here is the Thursday kitten update. Not all good news here today. I am afraid my FL family and IL family are having their challenges.
The kittens went in to be neutered and spayed yesterday morning and the following is what my daughter wrote late yesterday morning and then a little update this morning when she sent the pictures:

"I just heard from the vet, Izzie had a terrible reaction to the drugs and died. Her lungs had filled with water and the CPR did not bring her back. I can see her little face in the carrier looking at me. Theo is fine and out of the two of them I was worried most about him because he was the runt and didn’t seem as healthy. David and Jared are on there way over to see what they can do. I am crushed but on the other hand we gave her the best month of her life.

I look at it this way, Izzie was the angel that brought Theo to us. She was the larger one that we saw first, without her he probably would not have made it in the wild. She will be missed but never forgotten.

As you can see Theo is making himself right at home. We had a little scare this morning because he didn't come right out but after a little coaxing he came out from under Jared's bed. Cats seem to gravitate to Jared, they can sense his kind and loving soul I think. We have vowed to try and keep this cat from being on the counter but just this morning David admitted he would probably be the first to cave. You gotta love that man."

Bright spirits carry on, and as you can see, Theo has been welcomed in to the big house, FINALLY, and he is making a great adjustment...taking over with great aplomb.

In the midst of all this yesterday, I received a call from IL to say that my dear brother, Marty, has been hospitalized with a very high fever. Marty has faced a lot of health challenges since he became a paraplegic following a dirt bike accident in 1975. His life since then is an amazing story. After his accident and long recovery, he went on to community college, began participating in wheelchair sports (track, road racing and basketball) and then to the University of IL where he received his Masters and eventually became director of a program which has produced some of the most famous wheelchair athletes, many of whom have competed in the Olympics. He is also an author and inventor. In the last few years he has been especially challenged with infections caused by very serious skin breaks, and many other health issues common to paras. He has always been my hero and continues to show incredible strength and courage against tremendous physical odds. He has an amazing wife, Karen and two wonderful boys . Marty continues to work with and influence the lives of many wheelchair athletes. Tonight we are all sending him very positive thoughts for an easy glide over the latest hurdle he faces.

So as you can see, it is a bit of a roller coaster here but that's good, it is life, and we will continue the ride and I just bet it will take us to peaks with great views and revelations.

LM is out fishing tonight....he has been keeping close tabs on me as I have faced the last few days and he offers such comfort and strength in his words. Makes me happy to know he is at his "church" doubt offering prayers and affirmations as he reels in the bass and bluefish.

On the bright, and I mean bright, side - we have glorious sunshine here and I had a lovely walk through the village tonight....each step preserves my sanity!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Speed of Life

When I was really young....probably 7 or 8 years old, I remember a beloved neighbor taking me for a walk on a lovely summer afternoon. Stella was probably about 18 at the time and she frequently babysat for us. She was very blonde and pretty and we all loved her gentle nature. As we walked along that day, my hand in hers, somehow we got in to a discussion about the passage of time. I seem to remember that I asked how long it would take me to be as old as she was and her answer, "With each year that passes, the time moves faster," has stayed with me to this day. At that time I emphatically stated that it couldn't be possible, but she was oh so right. When I was that young age, I wanted time to fly, to get to the next adventure, to be an adult. Now, I spend all my time trying to wrest the speed out of my evaporating days and to stop the fast forward motion.

So the past few weeks are a prime example of the above with a rare interlude of slowing it down!

Memorial Day weekend was beautiful here and LM and I were together from Friday to Monday which was just heavenly. We were at my boss's house tending to the dogs again and that afforded us some lovely time in their light-filled beautiful space. We prepared some nice meals and took walks, each of us spent time together pursuing our own things which needed attention....LM repairing fishing equipment and I working on knitting a silk scarf to go with my "new" Eileen Fisher linen dress and jacket. Both of us finished our projects and really enjoyed being together, chatting a bit and also just enjoyed sharing silence, knowing the other was nearby. This was rare "spare" time for us and we cherished it. We took early evening rides through the village to see the hordes of tourists who have arrived for the season, and we went to various fishing spots to check for jumping fish. Many were spotted! Really fun.

Memorial Day found us hurriedly packing up, moving my things back to my house, then we set out to Truro to plant flowers at Lillian's (LM's former partner who died over a year ago) grave. It was the first time I visited the grave with him and I was apprehensive, filled with unspoken emotion, and unsure what would happen. The cemetery is about 1/2 mile into the woods on a gravel road and as we approached, I felt an immediate peace, as the woods opened into a very beautiful OLD burial ground. There were lovely trees, blooming lilacs and ancient gravestones. There was no sound except wind in the trees, not a cloud in the sky and we were totally alone in this special place. True to form, LM was very calm and collected and we planted our geraniums and begonias and said the Lord's Prayer, observing a few memories of Lillian. We quietly held hands and walked back to the car where LM turned to me and said "I hope you know how much it means for you to be here with me". I was full of tears for his loss, and for Lillian's. They had a good run for 12 years until breast cancer caught her....time passed all too fast! My only thought was to thank her for loving LM. At that point we called Lillian's sister in NJ to tell her that we had been there. She was so pleased. It was so beautiful that I didn't want to leave the peace. We were totally alone there and it felt good, time stood still for a few minutes, it seemed.

From there we set out for N. Truro to visit my friend, Barbara who is recovering well from hip replacement. She and her husband, Bert, have been married less than a year (both 77) and they give new meaning to making the most of time - they dared to grab the brass ring of love and go round once more after losing spouses, and they are so so happy. It felt good to see my longtime friend doing so well.

Next stop was the crazy wild and zany world of Provincetown. Located at the very tip of Cape Cod, it is an art colony, a very popular tourist destination, and a thriving fishing village, filled with quaint and beautiful homes and having a 1 car wide main st which is almost always teeming with people. It is a show all its own as P-Town is friendly to people of any and all sexual nature. You never know what sights you will see there. LM worked in P-Town for a few years as he was director of the Fishing Families Assistance program run by the Federal Government. We love it!! One of the architects I work with has recently opened an interior design shop, Shor, with his partner, so, as we walked along Commercial St., of course we had to stop in and see all they have done in a beautiful old building. It's fantastic, filled with very tasteful design pieces and art done by some of their friends. Before we left we had a recommendation for lunch which we thoroughly enjoyed while looking directly at Provincetown Harbor and a bay full of whitecaps due to the heavy SW winds. Very dramatic against a deep blue sky and very interesting people watching! After a little stop for one bite of homemade fudge, we meandered our way back to the car and headed back to check on the dogs, then LM left to head home, then to go fishing, AND he caught his first bluefish of the season last night at West Dennis Beach. It really was a lovely weekend. We laughed, we had some serious discussion and shared some milestone moments.
Now it is back to the breakneck speed of everyday life and I need to get myself out of the chair and into some projects which are calling my name!
Kitten Report coming Thursday!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

My View Monday

Just before sunset tonight I decided to take a walk down by the Oyster River to see this project which my company designed and is building. It is only a 5 minute walk from my house and the air, although cold, was refreshing as I attempted to shake the cobwebs from my has been a ragged week or so and I am still not feeling right physically or emotionally. As is my pattern, if I walk and exercise daily, I will get back to myself soon.....I hope.

View down the Oyster River from the front of the new house.
A shellfishing grant
Looking across the river
My reward as I turned around to walk home
As always, I am filled with gratitude for being able to walk to such beauty.

Florida Kitten Report:
Looks like Theo and Izzie will be moving on up to the big house as soon as they are old enough to be spayed/ coming tomorrow. They are growing so fast.

LM Report:
He is doing so well....started his Cardio Rehab program this morning and will now be attending 3x's a week. We had a very busy and a bit frenetic weekend, complicated by me not feeling well, but we managed to keep the thread of our love taut, despite the fact that it is a full moon!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Making the Effort

I've been thinking a lot about friendship the past few weeks and months and wanted to share a bit of the struggle I have found with finding, nurturing and keeping friendships with women.
Growing up I watched my mother maintain lovely relationships with her women friends. These women were an integral part of our lives, and one became my dear godmother. I longed to emulate her stylish nature and interesting life. She adored cats and devoted a lot of her life to caring for animals and when she died, left a large sum of money to establish an animal shelter which still thrives today. I have similar relationships today, but distance, the shortness of spare time and various other life situations, have me in a spot where I do not have a friend close-by whom I can just call and say "let's do a movie and dinner". I want that and yet, I know I have bailed out on opportunities to have just this sort of friendship. I make excuses....too busy, too tired, etc. Why, I do not know....I ask if it is just the pace of life today, as often I really am very tired. I do consider my children, siblings and my father, to be my dearest and closest friends, so I am not completely alone, and for certain, I have the dearest of all friendships in the love I share with LM, but there is still something missing.

Last year, just before my relationship with LM blossomed, I signed up to take a course at the adult education program where I worked for 24 years. It was done as an effort to strengthen my circle of women friends, as I had felt quite isolated since moving so far out on the Cape. It was a support group for divorced and single women led by a therapist, also divorced. It was a very interesting group of about 15 women. Just weeks before the series of 8 classes began, I had my first date with LM and was well on my way to being madly in love by the time of the first class. I stayed with it, and every class was so enriching. There was comfort to be had among these women who also felt isolated, were struggling with the dating scene, managing life as a single woman, and really needing a network. The hardest part for me was the follow-through, making contact outside the classes and keeping the friendships which blossomed in the class. I am a master of talking myself out of doing things, getting to the point of dread when I have made a commitment, and yet, without fail, when I make the effort and force myself to go out with one friend or a group, I always have fun and reap great rewards. I just don't get why it is so hard to overcome the walls I put up at times.
Anyway, the therapist who led the group seemed, at first, to be standoffish and I wasn't sure whether we had made a contact, but at the last class, she made a point of telling me she would like to get together with me sometime. We made a dinner date and have been having dinner at least once a month since then and it is so nice. I found out that she has some serious health issues she is dealing with - very bravely, and we have formed a nice little friendship. I have come to admire her courage and also her dedication to continue running her classes for women in need....right now she is doing a class on "Women in a life Transition". This lovely friendship has given me a lot and I know it is dear to her as well. She has shared my happiness, and the near tragedy with LM and been an enthusiastic cheerleader for us. Each time I find myself thinking I should just cancel dinner, etc, I remind myself of the gifts of her friendship, right when I needed it, and I know it has done the same for my friend. I just needed to push myself.
Another really nice thing came of pushing myself to enroll and follow through on that class. As I mentioned above, some of us from the class still get together about once a month, and the other women are mostly single and searching. One of them is a lovely 37 year old teacher, and I just happened to know a wonderful 47 year old architect at my job who was also they are a very happy couple, all because I stepped out of my comfort zone.
This past week, I have been helping a long term friend who had a hip replacement. She lives quite a distance from me, but chose to have her rehab at a great facility here in Chatham. It has been so wonderful to see her each day and sit and chat about all we have experienced together through the years. It will be sad to see her go back home and for us to know we will only see each other a few times a year, but it has reinforced the fact that I need to keep myself open to friendship, to hold out my hand and hope.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Kitten News

Bringing you the latest installment on the Florida kittens.....the names have been slightly changed.....they are now Theo (longhair, male on right) and Izzie (shorthair female). They are still living in the cottage but their endearing ways are inching them closer and closer to the big house.
Very busy this week.....tending to a friend with a new hip replacement, work doubly busy, and planning to assist my brother and family with a long distance bike ride beginning on Sat. They will ride from Boston to Craigville Beach on the Cape for Best Buddies This is the second year they have done this ride and it is an amazing event. LM and I will help with logistics and be there to cheer them on when they ride in to the finish.

LM had a very successful fishing field trip to West Dennis Beach last night. The students from his last three classes gathered at 5:30 pm and with LM's guidance, put their classroom time to use preparing gear, casting, and many catching fish on what was a beautiful evening with a glorious sunset. I so wanted to be there to get photos but my post-surgical friend needed me to be here.
There were many striped bass caught - happy students, proud teacher! Just to think, just after those classes began, LM nearly died, and now he is out there doing what he loves in his "church" - nature. As he was driving away from the class last night and heading home we shared a touching and loving phone conversation savoring the evening's events, our love and a few tears of joy.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Perfect Mother's Day Weekend

Amidst what was a very busy weekend, with demands from many directions, I can honestly say I feel like I have been immersed in a cocoon of love, gentleness, warm sun and loving arms giving me effortless ease to accomplish all that was needed the past few days.
LM was more his pre-heart attack self than ever this weekend!! From the moment we got together on Saturday, he was "with me" and wanting to talk about his awareness of things missing between us and how determined he is to bring them back and to have things even better. Once again I was hit between the eyes and in the heart with why I love him so much. His ability to share his feelings, his struggles with said feelings and to address what needs to change is one more gift he brings to my life. Without me saying a word about how all the changes have affected me, he began conversation on this subject and we were both able to talk frankly and feel resolution.
Every minute we shared in the last 36 hours or so was such fun and within all we accomplished - house sitting two active dogs and caring for my boss's large house, visiting a dear friend who just had major surgery, and a myriad other chores, we laughed and found beauty everywhere.
Today we had a nice walk in Sandwich with my son, Jason, then shared a lovely lunch, followed by a visit with LM's daughter, Kristi. In between we spent time renewing by the ocean and watching the tremendous surf which is roaring here due to a northeast storm that has been hanging around. We also did some interesting birdwatching and found a nest with baby cardinals (pointed out to us by Ms. G, by the way) in a holly bush just outside the TV room window and I now have warblers in the privet hedges outside my window. They are stopping by on their annual flight to Canada. Their green/yellow plumage blends in well with the colors of Spring but we heard their beautiful songs and were able to spot them up close.
On a bit of a sad note, the baby cardinals disappeared from the nest overnight last night. The parents remain and we are guessing the babies were taken by a hawk whom we have seen lurking about. This is nature in its rawest form but we were buoyed to see the loving parents feeding each other sunflower seeds today.
Hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day. I felt wonderfully celebrated today, as I enjoyed calls and flowers from my two girls, time with my son, and LM's love, but beneath it all, was a lot of remembrance and gratitude for my mother, gone 7 years now but a part of my everyday and as close as a glance at my own hands. Thank you, Mama. You gave me eyes to view the beauty in this world and a heart to hold its treasures.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

May Flowers

Everyone watches this house and garden. The house and the surrounding fence are covered in pale pink roses in June and July.
This house has a full time gardener and in late summer has the most beautiful hollyhocks I have ever seen. The neighbors here all have beautiful gardens, too. A little competition, maybe??
Espaliered apple trees

A lovely pink blossom on the espaliered apple tree
Grass is getting greener!
Anyone know what this is???
Primroses at "The Artful Hand Gallery
The Drawing Room Gallery, owned by my friend, Sharon
A Drawing Room welcome
Taking you on my May 1st walk continues...these are just a few of the flowers, and as one picture shows, it is still cold here and the trees are not leafed out yet!

Florida Kitten Update (see Shining Through and Lucky Kittens 5/4/08) : They are now named Ivan and Izzie and have the full run of "their" cottage. I hear they have been pretty wild, funny, and loving. They are at the "stick to your legs like velcro with their needle-like claws" stage. Will they move on up to the big house, or not? Stay tuned. David returns from the Bahamas next week! Meanwhile Anne has full kitten and feeding the quail duty!

Monday, May 5, 2008

A May Day Walk

It was very late afternoon when I set out for my daily walk and just too beautiful not to capture so many beautiful sights. I especially love the one just above here which shows a shellfisherman returning his boat to his mooring in the Mitchell River just off Stage Harbor.
Within 6 weeks the town will be filled with summer residents and day trippers. It is a viatl link in our economy but the population swells from 6000 to 15,000+. I really love to see others enjoy this beautiful place and I feel grateful that I can experience a walk like this one in all seasons of the year. Missing from this post are the bird songs as I passed the many conservation areas, not to mention the ever present cries of the gulls, the lapping waves, and the many spring flowers
(to be featured in another post).
Hope you enjoyed this little tour.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Shining Through and Lucky Kittens

The past few days here have been cold, dark and rainy, yet so many nice things have happened that it feels like the sun is shining brightly. So many nice things have been happening.
For starters, my daughter, Anne and husband, David who live in Ocala, FL, rescued these two tiny kittens from the side of the road a few days ago. They have been cleaned up, nourished and loved and are living in a cottage on Anne and David's property to avoid transmitting disease to their sweet cats Bella and Tig. Anne's goal is to find homes for these two sweet babies. This photo was taken right after they were rescued so they look a bit scared but within minutes they were playing, adapting to a litter box and eating. Lucky little ones. David would like to keep them but Anne thinks 4 cats is too many. Time will tell! A & D have such loving hearts!

For years, my sisters and I (4 of us) have wanted to plan a reunion....last one was 1991 in, thanks to the checks recently sent to stimulate the economy and the generosity of LM, I have a ticket to go to Seattle on August 19 and at least 3 of the sisters will be together in a place I have always dreamed of seeing. Now over the next 3.5 months, I will await the trip with delicious anticipation.

On Friday evening, my son Jason and his wife, Alison, who are expecting their first baby after many years of trying, went to have the first ultrasound done and this morning I heard the delightful reports of seeing the baby's feet! They have decided not to learn the gender until birth. Alison has some morning sickness but is doing very well otherwise. Joy, joy...and finally the little baby clothing I have had secreted away will be put to use.

At long last, LM and I had 24 hours of peaceful together time this weekend and it was heavenly. The dialogue about what has happened to our relationship, especially to LM, continues to yield more settled feelings and acknowledgments of how our love has matured. Saying good-bye is easier, and we both now feel strong as we go our separate ways to fulfill our regular life chores and interests. We laughed a lot!!!

This morning I left the Cape early to do errands and to visit Dad. It was a lovely day, despite torrential rain and darkness. Lunch with Dad at his assisted living residence was delicious and we shared lively and interesting conversation. His long life is such a gift to my family and especially to me today. Often, I leave him feeling sad but today I was filled with the zest for life which he exudes. He was having a little nap as I left, but would soon wake to attend a lively piano concert. He's setting such a good example by being fully engaged in life!

Another highlight of my weekend, was a trip to my local consignment shop. I've always been a believer in recycling nice clothes and often take things to consign and earn credit to use when I need it. My Spring/Summer wardrobe is sorely lacking so while LM worked on preparing a presentation he was to give today (with Ms G tucked right in close, by the way), I stepped out to see if there were some new items with "my name on them". My intuition served me well as I walked in the door to see a perfect Eileen Fisher outfit waiting just for me...and it now hangs in my closet and will be a great asset this summer and many to come. It is a lovely shade of purple, in that beautiful soft Fisher linen. Her clothes are really cut to flatter women and endure timelessly. The dress is a simple below the knee a-line shift and the jacket has a sweet mandarin collar.
So, a happy weekend all around....great conversations with family and friends, time to myself, perfect quality time with LM and a happy heart......I hope everyone else had the same!
Come back tomorrow evening as I have some lovely "walk around Chatham" pictures to post.