Tuesday, March 31, 2009

and this year for my birthday....

US Immigration has granted me permanent residency!!

(how ever did they know that was JUST what i wanted...?)



Another early birthday present! Registration for the Marine Corps Marathon opened today (and could very well sell out today)...

My husband signed me up. What insight! What thoughtfulness! What a gem of a man!

(it's possible that i might have told him that was just what i wanted...)

Such great gifts, and it's not even my birthday yet :-)


Monday, March 30, 2009

oh happy day..

neither of us were looking forward to Saturday... services for the departed are always difficult, particularly when for family members... it's a long drive to NJ at the best of times, made longer by the rainy night driving conditions, and the fact that we had forgotten a few key items and had to go back for them... which put us at our destination at 4 in the morning.

my father-in-law paced about the house nervously in the morning... getting together photographs, practicing the speech he had written to honour his deceased wife... my husband put the finishing touches on the slide show he had created with all the photos i had scanned earlier in the week, and called his sister several times to see if there was anything further we could bring.

his sister was frantically rushing about her house when we got there, trying to get the last details taken care of...

then the baby woke up and needed to be fed and changed, people arrived, the house was full of a chaos of old family friends laughing and hugging and crying... the computer was hooked up to the tv and the slide show began...

and suddenly it was a party.

my mother-in-law would have loved that.

no sad speeches, no damp hankies, no "if only we'd had more time..."
just a celebration of her life, her friendships, her children... a celebration of the time we all had with her.

it was a wonderful day. too bad we wasted so much energy dreading its coming.

Friday, March 27, 2009

get your FREE prizes here!!

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner! (as my friend Char would say)

I won a "pay it forward" from my friend Foxxx a little while back and have been brainstorming my “pay it forward” giftie ideas. And training for a marathon. And entertaining houseguests. And spending time with my mother-in-law before she died. And supporting my husband and his family after she died... So forgive my tardy getting to it.

Here’s the deal on "pay it forward". My friend Foxxx won a prize from our friend Char, who won one from someone else... Now I too will conduct a draw for prizes. You comment here saying you’d like to be entered into the draw. One week from today, I take all names and draw at random. You win. Simple as that.

Here's the catch....if you win, you have to agree to “pay it forward” to three other people via your own blog. Prizes can be handmade items, gift certificates for stores or online sites, donations to charities, etc.

Now, as you may know, due to my relatively recent change of countries and subsequent wait on work authorization, followed by a collapsing US economy... I'm not currently employed. So, my prize options will be modest, but heartfelt.

Each winner may choose one of the following:

~ A lovely spring-weight royal blue scarf that I just finished knitting (photos supplied by request)

~ 4 hours of volunteer service at a national (US) charity of your choice (I’m in the DC area so I would need it to be one that is accessible here)

~ A handwritten card, note, postcard or letter each month for a year (which can be sent to you, or some lonely soul that you would like to cheer up... just supply me with addresses)

~ 4 hours of yard/garden work at your home, as long as you are also in the DC area or don’t mind if it takes a few months or years for me to make it to your home for a visit.

~ A home-made baked goods “care package” (disclaimer - I cannot guarantee the freshness of said baked goods if you live on the other side of the world from me... but they will be fresh when I post them)

To enter, leave me a comment on this blog. Given that I have a rather small readership on both of my blogs, I will be posting this on both and accepting entries from both. Entries will be accepted until midnight April 3, 2009. After that, a random drawing will be held of all entries. Best of luck.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” e.e. cummings

I was reading my friend Denize’s recent posting in which she wrote about Wayne Dyer and e.e. cummings and how they kept on being themselves even when people told them they were doing it wrong. She talks about trying to figure out what makes her her, and how to be honest about and true to those parts of herself.

She asked herself the following questions, and made a list of answers.

“So, who am I? what are all my layers? And what is my core?”

This is my list:

I love stillness
I get irritable when I don’t get time to myself
I crave physical contact, and am always holding hands, bumping into friends when we walk together, hugging, stroking hair, sitting in laps, massaging feet...
I wish people wanted to touch me as much as I want to touch them
I like to walk alone
I prefer to run with other people
I get a thrill from the rumble of thunder and flash of lightning
I love the sound of snow underfoot
I love the sound of rain on the roof
I am both soothed and energized by the sound of waves crashing along shorelines
I love the smell of lawn and leaves and earth
I love campfires
I love the northern lights
I love light reflecting on water
I love the way kids see the tiny details and don’t care about the big picture
I like to be busy
I love good food, pretty much any type, but I’m not a great cook
I love cheese
I am in loving awe of bees and elephants and whales
I am fascinated by insects, but don’t want (most of) them to touch me
I am stubborn
I don’t like being told what to do
I wish at times that people would tell me what to do
I sometimes get anxious if things aren’t done the way I would do them
I love to scream on rollercoasters
I love to sing loudly while I drive
I love to dance til the sweat pours down my body
I feel uplifted when I am in the mountains
I love to travel
I love to come home
I like my home to be tidy
I can be very messy
I am curious
I am lazy
I am loyal
I am exuberant
I am shy
I feel small when I’m surrounded by people I don’t know
I don’t like to be the centre of attention
I wish some people paid more attention to me
I feel like I have something important to say, but I don’t know what it is
I don’t like myself sometimes
I am frequently amazed by myself, when reminded of all that I have accomplished
I am flawed
I am changing
I am hopeful
I am trusting
I am me

(for now)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

looking into a life

when we left my father-in-law's house two weeks ago, we took with us a couple boxes of loose photographs which my husband wanted to "digitize." there were two reasons for that, one is to preserve them as they've been floating about loose in the boxes and getting banged up, and the other is so that he can use them to create a slide show of images of his mother for her up-coming funeral service.

my mother-in-law was already very ill when i met her for the first time. i have never known her to be joyful or exuberant. there have been moments when i catch a glimpse of her wry sense of humour, but they are fleeting and far between. and so, there is an enormous part of her personality that i simply did not know.

i spent the better part of the day going through those boxes... picking out pictures that show her to be funny and playful, loving with her children, a child herself... a traveler, a gardener, a mother, a student, a wife, a girl, a beautiful woman, and finally the tired and depleted woman i knew.

as i went through the photos, i asked my husband about many of them... "i never knew my mother when she was fun," he said. "i've never seen her laugh like that, or play like that"... "i don't remember that..."

i wish i had known her when she laughed so hard she almost fell over with the force of it, grasping at her friend's arm to stay upright. i wish my husband remembered her climbing trees with him and playing on the beach with him when he was small.

it makes me wonder when it was that she became the woman we knew, and why? how did that happen? did she miss her younger self, or was she content to be herself as she aged?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


ran a marathon on Sunday... my first ever.

pretty proud of myself.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

today i'm happy about...

~ cherry blossoms
~ my new bed
~ oatmeal with honey and walnuts
~ the knowledge that this time tomorrow morning i will be drinking coffee with my mom
~ sunshiny daffodils
~ the hug that my friend Denize drew and sent to me
~ chats with long lost friends
~ large magnolia trees that are hanging on the very edge of blooming, full of promise
~ new friends
~ reaching my fundraising goals for the marathon i'm running on Sunday
~ the beautiful card Brandi made that just slipped through my door

... i'm sure there will be more before the day is through

Monday, March 2, 2009


the day has passed by at a snail's pace, even though we all slept in a little... with the hush of freshly fallen snow outside, it felt nice to stay in bed and just listen to the quiet.

my sweetheart and his father went out to shovel the walkways and scrape the snow off the vehicles... bringing back into the house with them the scent of cold fresh air and snow, if only for a moment.


the house smells of decay... that is not entirely unusual, as we often find fruit decaying on the counters when we come to visit, stale laundry and uncleaned bathrooms. i have passed the day much as i always do when we come here. cleaning a little here, doing a little laundry there... trying not to attract too much attention or risk being asked to stop.


we've watched some movies and played some cards... i have played the piano for my mother-in-law several times throughout the day, whenever i am alone in the house with her.

she cannot really communicate anymore, though she moans constantly when she is awake. when she does talk she often calls out to her deceased sister... or mumbles prayers in spanish. she does not seem aware of me when i talk to her, and i don't know what more to say.

so i play for her.


my sweetheart is watching some Chinese zombie movie in our bedroom... the zombie moans from the tv drift into the living room to accompany the moans coming from her bedroom.

somehow that feels quite alright at the moment.


my love and admiration for my husband swells each time i watch him tend to his mother. he washes her and dresses her, helps the nurses to change her soiled bedclothes, soaks a small sponge in water or juice and holds it to her lips so she can moisten her mouth without choking. he is so gentle with her.

he saves his anger and frustration for his father... who is also struggling to find his way through watching his best friend and love disappear before his eyes.

each time she asks for something to drink, hope lights his eyes as if this sip would miraculously put her back on the path to good health. each time she has a moment of lucidity and speaks to him as though she knows him, he makes fresh plans for their common future -- like buying a smaller house up north so it would be easier to care for her and their rental properties -- and then he deflates when she inevitably slips back into the moaning darkness.


the house is heavy with decay... no amount of cleaning products or air fresheners can overcome the scent of her body failing, no amount of comforting words or deliberate conversation can lift the atmosphere of sadness and anxious anticipation, no amount of curtains being drawn to let in the sparkling winter light can bring light to heavy hearts.


there are moments where i feel like an impostor here. not that i am unwelcome... but that i am not a part of it. in some ways that is true. this family has operated as a complete unit for decades... i have been a part of it for only a couple of years. it is not mine... and my feelings are somehow peripheral. yet her passing will impact my life profoundly. has already impacted my life profoundly...

her illness has created new space into which my relationship with my husband has grown and deepened. for that i am grateful. but it pains me to see the toll it takes on him. i know that i too will live with the manifestations of his grief when she passes. my children will never know their father's mother... and that makes me sad. i know the idea of that makes him sad too.

the fallout of her passing will impact his relationship with his father and sister... at this point, it could just as easily fall on the side of a negative impact as a positive one... for reasons i am only beginning to understand. however their relationships may change, that will define my future relationship with both my father-in-law and sister-in-law (and her family) as well.

coming from a very close family, i cannot help but hope that this brings them closer together... that it helps them to find new ways of understanding and relating to each other. because i long for that closeness... maybe that is just selfish, but there it is.


the last time i was here, i lay with her on her bed to watch the inauguration of Barak Obama. she was so excited by the potential for change that he brings. it amazed and humbled me when she held my hand and talked to me about how happy she was that Francisco had met me, how she hoped we would share a long and happy life together... about how happy she was to have lived so see both her children happily married, and to have met her grand daughter.. about how she had always hoped to die in her sleep, but now she was ready to go any time.

and then, without a moment's silence to let that sink in... she commented on how cute the Obama girls were and how she wondered what kind of puppy they would finally choose when they were settled into life in the White House.


i am so grateful to have known her.

without wishing her any harm, and because i love her... as i listen to her moan, and look into her bedroom to see her wasted body and gaunt face, i hope that her passing comes very soon.

upping the geek quotient

so... here's a couple blogs that i have found endlessly amusing of late.

Who's More Awesome

The Geeky Chef

they entertain the geek in me...

the geek in my husband, on the other hand, is currently being entertained by Chinese zombie/vampire kung fu movies. i just can't seem to share in that passion with him, for some reason.