Saturday, July 31, 2010

Of Shirts and Sadness

I've been a widow now for almost five years, so the early stages of grief and sadness are behind me. But sometimes, unexpectedly, grief hits me again like a punch in the gut.

Last Saturday I walked into a department store. I usually come into this store through the front door but I parked in the back that day because I wanted to walk over to Target afterward. The back entrance goes through the men's department. The first thing I saw was a display of long-sleeved men's shirts. Ralph always wore long sleeves, and my eyes lit on a shirt I knew he'd love. My hand stretched toward it...and suddenly it hit me: What the heck am I doing? He's gone. I stopped in my tracks as the grief washed over me and then I scurried through the rest of the men's department as fast as I could. On the way back out a few minutes later I walked around the center counter and past the t-shirts. He never bought t-shirts; he got plenty at computer shows, so I figured the way out was safe.

Does this happen to you? Sometimes it's hearing a song that was popular long ago; sometimes it's channel surfing and accidentally landing on a show we used to watch together; sometimes it's reading something in the newspaper I know he'd find funny or interesting. For months after he died I didn't listen to music, and there are some TV shows I've never watched again.

I'm glad these episodes don't happen as often as they used to, but I fear they'll always sneak up. Below is a quote that expresses it best:

"It's so curious: one can resist tears and 'behave' very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer... and everything collapses." ~Colette

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Important Information!!! Please Read

Cleaning for a Reason

If you know any woman currently undergoing chemo, please pass the word to her that there is a cleaning service that provides FREE housecleaning - 1 time per month for 4 months while she is in treatment. All she has to do is sign up and have her doctor fax a note confirming the treatment. Cleaning for a Reason will have a participating maid service in her zip code area arrange for the service. This organization serves the entire USA and currently has 547 partners to help these women. It’s our job to pass the word and let them know that there are people out there that care. Be a blessing to someone and pass this information along.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Check out this blog

I've been following Great inspirational posts. Take a look.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Quote for the Week

Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.
~ Unknown

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Saga of Lois Continues: Part 2

Last week I posted a piece about Lois, the famous corpse flower at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The city (in fact, the whole country) waited for Lois to bloom. Some began calling her Slowis; others predicted she'd never bloom, she was just a tease. Meanwhile, Zac, the hunky horticulturist who is in charge of her, has achieved rock star status in Houston.

Lois's counterpart (perhaps cousin) Perry is blooming in Minneapolis. He's been faster to spread his petals, but he hasn't gotten the publicity Lois has. Her website receives hundreds of tweets daily from Lois aficianodos.

Finally, on Thursday her purple petals began to open. My friend and I and her daughter decided we had to visit and thought going after 10 p.m. would be a good choice. We got there at 11:00, and the museum was so crowded, our tickets were for a 1:30 a.m. entrance. We went home, got snacks and books and returned to wait in line. While we were waiting, the guy in the picture above arrived in a homemade Lois costume.

The museum had placed a Stinkometer in Lois's vicinity. I don't know if you can see in the picture that when we arrived, it had a reading of 5 out of a possible 10. Yes, Lois emits an odor but half way up the chart it was tolerable. As we walked out at 2:00 a.m., we asked each other if we were crazy. Nah, it was an adventure, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to smell a flower with the odor of rotting meat.

The Chronicle, our daily paper, ran a story Friday about a couple who months ago reserved the Butterfly Center at the Museum for their wedding Saturday night. Little did they know they'd be sharing center stage with Lois, who stands at the entrance to the Butterfly Center. Since it was too late to change their plans, they decided to give all the guests clothespins to put over their noses.

My Latest Publication

My newest publication is an essay in From the Porch Swing, a Silver Boomers Book available on Amazon. It's called Fireflies and Pickles: A Requiem for Summer, and it's one of my favorites. Hope you'll take a look.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Quote for the Week

Behold the turle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out. James Bryant Conant

Another Outing: Lois

On Saturday my son and granddaughter and I went to visit Lois. Lois is a "corpse flower," or Amorphophallus titanum, which smells like rotten meat when it blooms. Exciting? Absolutely. Lois is the talk of Houston. She is a rare flower native to Sumatra. When explorers first saw this huge plant, they thought it was a man-eating flower. Only a few have ever bloomed in the U.S, and here in Houston, we've been holding our breaths, literally, as we file past Lois and wait for her to bloom. She has been a bonanza for the Houston Museum of Natural Science, with t-shirts and buttons (see my button above) and huge crowds. The museum has been open round the clock. Yes, some people come in the middle of the night. But so far she hasn't bloomed, and one columnist has suggested she may be a non-event. Nevertheless, she's the talk of the town, with her own webcam, and a lady has come with her guitar to play a song dedicated to this amazing (and still flowerless) plant. It was fun, crowded, and interesting, and as a bonus we got to go through the butterfly center on our way out.

If you want to know more about the corpse flower, visit the nuseum's website at

Monday, July 12, 2010

Quote for the Week


The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill; it will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is you have a choice every day regarding the attitude you will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past; we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you.

You are in charge of your attitude.
Author Unknown

This was posted on the wall in the office of the preschool where I see kids. It has so much to say to us as we trudge through the widowsphere. I hope you like it as much as I did and take it to heart. Wishing you all the best.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tea Time with Gabriella (and Delilah)

On Saturday I took my granddaughter Gabriella and her American Girl doll Delilah for tea at a lovely little restaurant called Ashland House. The restaurant is in a quaint wooden building with red siding.. The dining room walls are painted with butterflies and flowers and there are two artificial trees in the center of one of the rooms. It's a very girly place, and I thought she'd enjoy the experience. We both did.

Across from us was a birthday party. All the women at the table wore tiaras and some wore feather boas. One of the ladies was taking a picture and I offered to take one so she could be in it, too. Gabriella said, "I'll do it. I'm better," so the lady handed her the camera.

Tea consisted of four courses: the first was cheese crackers and ginger snaps with lemon curd; the second was tea sandwiches cut into fancy shapes; the third was a scone with whipped cream and jam, and the fourth was a plate of petit fours. And of course, tea accompanied everything. We chose the house blend, which had a slight blueberry flavor.

We spent two hours chatting about her upcoming first year in middle school, her videos (She's one of a circle of pre-teens and young teens who post videos of their American Girls on YouTube). We talked about books she's read this summer and her family's trip to Orlando which is coming up soon.

It was a delightful afternoon with my favorite person, and I am still on a sugar high.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


The Fourth is over. No more fireworks to look forward to. It's summer doldrums time.
Just because we're widows doesn't mean we've given up on living. We want to have fun but not necessarily expensive fun. So today I'm listing some of my fave freebies. Keep in mind I live in a big city. Life is expensive here but there are also more free things to do. Hope you'll add to the list:
1. The library. Free books, free movies on DVD to check out, lectures, computer classes, story hours for kids.
2. Concerts. The Houston Symphony has concerts in Hermann Park, where you can sit in audience seats under the band shell or "on the hill". They have Shakespeare in the Park, musical theater, and free concerts in smaller parks all over town.
3. Book groups. I belong to two: one sponsored by the Great Books Council and another private group. Membership is free in most groups. Of course, you have to get hold of the book but that's what the library is for. Or you can try a great way to get and give away free paperbacks.
4.Back to the park for picnics. Or have one in your back yard. When my kids were small and it was rainy, we had them on the family room floor. PB&J sandwiches are great picnic fare, and what couuld be cheapter?
5.Some museums have free admission once a week. The Museum of Natural Science has Friday night mixers, a great way to meet other singles.
6. The City of Houston has centers all over town, with free exercise classes, bridge groups, etc. There's also a great dog park, where your dog can meet other dogs and you can get to know the owners.
7. Check out Meet-up Groups online; hiking groups, biking groups, scrabble or bridge clubs (some are free), mall walking groups. If you don't find a group that fits your needs or appeals to you, why not start your own? Ever think of getting a widows' group started?
8. Bookstores, especially independent ones, often have readings along with book signings. Go for the reading; you don't have to buy the book.
9. Take a tour of your home town. There are loads of interesting places here that I've never visited. That's probably true in your home as well. Of if you have seen everything, then visit interesting sites again, with new eyes.
10. Churches and synagogues, besides regular services, often have get togethers for singles or for various age groups, and of course they offer study groups, lectures in addition to sermons at religious services, and volunteer opportunities.
11. Speaking of volunteering, here's a way to give back as well as to meet like-minded people.
12. Finally, a way to volunteer and enjoy free entertainment at the same time. Ushers at concerts, plays, etc. get to see the performance free just for showing people to their seats.

I know we don't have huge amounts of time for some of the activities listed above. We're working, parenting, sometimes caring for our own elderly parents, but remember, our needs are important, too. We need relationships with others, we need to have fun, we need to take care of ourselves. We need to destress by having some fun in our lives. We owe it to ourselves.

I hope I'll here from others of you with more freebie (or almost freebie) suggestions. Let's encourage each other to find something in life to savor.

July 4

Thought I'd post early this week and wish everyone a good Fourth of July. I'm making my favorite pie, a red, white and blue one that takes only a few minutes. Here's the recipe:
graham cracker crust
1 pkg. Jello Berry Blue flavor
1 pkg. Jello Strawberry flavor
1 1/2/ cups boiling water, divided
1 cup ice cubes, divided
1 cup Cool Whip
Dissolve blue Jello in 3/4 cup boiling water. Add 1/2 cup ice cubes; stir until ice is melted. Pour into pie crust; refrigerate 5 to 10 minutes or until Jello is set but not firm. Prepare strawberry Jello with remaining water and ice cubes. Let stand on counter 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Top blue Jello with Cool Whip. Sppon red Jello over Cool Whip. Refrigerate 2 hours. 6 servings.
WARNING: The first time I made this the blue turned green from the yellow graham crackers so my pie was red, white and green.

I like the Fourth of July because, although Ralph and I had many great Fourths, I don't feel as lonely as I do on other holidays. I love to watch fireworks. I find them as thrilling as I did when I was a kid. I love the kind of food you eat on the Fourth--outdoorsy kind of stuff, although it's way too hot to sit around outdoors most of the day here. I love the music, and I enjoy the whole week because it's my favorite sports week. No, not the World Cup, but Wimbledon. I never miss Grand Slam tennis on TV, and Wimbledon is my favorite of the four. Going to London for Wimbledon is on my bucket list.

Everyone, I hope you have a good Fourth. I hope you lose yourself in the fun and excitement of America's Birthday and, just for a day at least, be a kid again and enjoy

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