Monday, January 30, 2012

Quote for the Week

One day, much too soon, the end will come to each of our precious brief lifetimes; knowing this, live fearlessly; leave unchallenged not a single obstacle between yourself and the realization of your most joyous dreams

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Moment in Time

This is not my breakfast table, but when I saw this picture, I remembered a morning seven years ago...or ten years ago. It doesn't matter how many years; what matters is that it's a snapshot of an ordinary day, so ordinary I can't even pinpoint it. The main thing I know is that it happened before...before my husband became ill and such days were over.

It's a weekday morning. We're seated at the breakfast table. Ralph is eating a bagel. Cinnammon raisin. He buys eiight dozen bagels at a time in assorted flavors and freezes them. He finishes his grapefruit juice and sips from a large plastic mug of tea--no sugar, no lemon--which he will refill and take with him when he leaves to visit the clients of his computer consulting company. His breakfast never varies except for the flavor of the bagel.

I am in a cereal phase and I'm having Special K with fresh blueberries along with my tea--small cup, one sugar, a teaspoon of lemon juice.

Ralph is engrossed in the front page of the Houston Chronicle. He is the master of the newspaper. Every morning he retrieves it from the driveway, and this gives him dibs on his favorite section. I read the spots page. My secret: I love the sports section, prefer to read it first. I check the tennis news. Although I've watched the previous day's match on TV, I enjoy reprising it.

"Listen to this," Ralph says and reads a column aloud. "...a respected politician..." He pauses and we grin at each other. "There's an oxymoron," he says.

"Add it to the list." We collect oxymorons and have pages of them in a file.

He continues the article and we discuss it briefly. We're on opposite sides politically, but we have a tacit understanding: He tells me how to vote; I don't listen. When our views diverge too much, we stop talking.

"I have to go," I say, glancing at my watch. I put my bowl in the dishwasher, give Ralph an absentminded peck on the cheek, grab my keys and head out to my car.

An ordinary morning, an average day for two people heading into their golden years. A quiet, uneventful life. Soon that will change.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Quotes for the Week

My cats have been complaining that I have not blogged about them lately, so here are some cat quotes to placate them and amuse you. They also insisted I post their pictures. Toby is on the top left, Tiki bottom right.

Dogs come when they're called; cats take a message and get back to you later. - Mary Bly

A meow massages the heart. - Stuart McMillan

Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this. - Anonymous

A cat sees no good reason why it should obey another animal, even if it does stand on two legs.- Sarah Thompson

After scolding one's cat one looks into its face and is seized by the ugly suspicion that it understood every word. And has filed it for reference.- Charlotte Gray

Everything I know I learned from my cat: When you're hungry, eat. When you're tired, nap in a sunbeam. When you go to the vet's, pee on your owner. - Gary Smith

The sun rose slowly, like a fiery furball coughed up uneasily onto a sky-blue carpet by a giant unseen cat. - Michael McGarel

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Margaret Atwood

I postponed my Monday post because I wanted to wait until I'd heard Margaret Atwood so I could tell about that. InPrint Houston brought her here as part of their Reading Series. They've featured such famous authors as Salmon Rushdie, Amy Tan, and Joan Didion, but Atwood was the best.

A slim woman with a cloud of silvery hair, she had the 1100 people crowded into the huge auditorium spellbound as she read snippets from various publications. She had the audience in stitches with "Stone Mattress," reccently published in The New Yorker. By the time she finished the "teaser," we knew the narrator is a predatory female on the hunt for husband #5, she's on an Alaska cruise (Atwood said she wrote the story to amuse her fellow passengers on a recent cruise she took), that someone is going to die. I can't wait to download the story at the New Yorker website and read the rest. She had us laughing with a bit from a short story about a papier mache head, and we were enthralled at her reading from her latest book, The Year of the Flood.

Her sense of humor was evident. She even laughed along with us at her writing. Her wide ranging interests were also clear. She said she reads Science, The National Geographic and similar magazines to relax on planes. Her avid interest in politics was apparent as well as her interest in speculative fiction. She's written 40 books, essays, poetry.

Altogether a delightful evening.

Do you like Atwood? Have a favorite among her books? Leave a comment

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Writers, Check Out These Sites

Here are two sites you should definitely check:

CRWROPPS: I can never remember what the letters stand for, but it's worth subscribing to their email information. You will hear from them almost daily, with news of writing contests, writers' positions, magazines, chapbook publishers, etc. seeking submissions.

Pixelhose: This is new for me, but a writing friend entered one of their contests, which are judged by readers along with their staff. You get emails with the finalists' entries and can "like" them if you choose. Sounds worthwhile.

Any other great sites you'd like to mention? If so,

Monday, January 16, 2012

Quote for the Week

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost. That is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.
Henry David Thoreau

Creeping Through Horseradish

To a widow, especially a new one, the whole world is widowhood.

Grocery shopping: The first time you're at the supermarket, it hits you. You're shopping for one now. How much to buy? All those other carts you pass are so full. Yours, not so full. And do you want to cook anyway? Your new world doesn't lend itself to gourmet food, new recipes, Everything tastes like cardboard. Maybe you'll buy a few frozen dinners and be done with it. Or stop at McDonalds and pick up a Happy Meal (There's an oxymoron for you. Meals are no longer happy when you're eating alone). But wait. Frozen dinner and fast food, Happy Meal or Whopper, will just make you feel more alone. Who knew sitting across the table from someone could mean so much? You never gave it much thought when it was an everyday occurrence.

Going to bed: Another decision. Stay on "your" side, move to the middle, sleep on "his" side because maybe you'll feel closer to him that way? Personally, I've never moved an inch away from my side.

Everything in your life seems suddenly connected to your new status. The toilet seat is always down now. You can't fasten a favorite necklace. I once woke a neighbor because I couldn't unfasten one. My burglar alarm once started beeping because its battery was low. Even with a ladder, I couldn't reach it. I swallowed my pride, marched across the street and introduced myself to a new neighbor. I hadn't met her yet but I'd noticed she was tall.

You see a couple standing shouler to shoulder in line at the movies or an elderly couple strolling hand in hand toward the park. A stab of pain and envy hits you. Why couldn't that be you and your husband? Why don't you belong to someone, with someone any more?

Those people at your office or in your book club,complaining about their spouses, they don't realize how lucky they are. Or how their complaints hurt. You want to tell them, but you keep quiet. They wouldn't understand.

But gradually some of the pain dissipates, maybe after months or years. Oh, it still comes back at time, surprising you with its intensity. You hear a song, pass a restaurant you used to love, see a couple you used to go out with, but they don't include you any more.

But you've begun to make a new life. Not because you want to, but because you must. Another Yiddish proverb says, "When one must, one can," and you've taken it to heart. New friends, new interests, bigger fasteners put on those old necklaces. You struggle out of the horseradish, and suddenly you can see the sky.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Quote for the Week

I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all, I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.
Agatha Christie

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Still Accepting Submissions for Anthology on Widowhood

Silver Boomer Books has extended their reading period for submissions to On Our Own, an anthology about the widowhood experience, to March 31. Both prose and poetry are welcome. We've received lots of good submissions but we're a little low on ones about widows/widowers who've been successful as "survivors" and learned to manage on their own (even though it's certainly no one's choice). Some of the submissions we've received have made me cry; others have made me laugh; still others have inspired me to work harder at survivorship. If you have questions, let me know in the Comments section.

My blog refuses to allow me to do links. It says it will, but it's lying. So here is the website for Silver Boomers. Go there and click on Call for Submissions for more info

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Quote for the Week

Joey Adams
May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Thoughts for the New Year: Your Pie Chart of Life

Happy New Year, one and all. May 2012 be a year of peace and joy and good health.

Several days ago an article appeared in the op/ed section of the Houston Chronicle. It reminded us that as a new year begins, we tend to think over our financial status. Have we made sound investments? Are we diversified?

But, the authors point out, we should also be assessing our "life porfolios." They, too, should be diversified. The authors suggest we make a pie chart of the five most important areas of our lives:

How does the chart look? Is it balanced? We might be surprised to see that only 2 percent of our life is devoted to health and exercise. Do we focus all our energies on the work section, leaving little time for family or community?

It's a new year. We can make a new start and resolve that by next year we'll lead a more balanced life. By next year our life portfolio, our pie chart, can show a change--more space for community or spirituality, those areas that we put off for the future. We can focus on things we've always wanted to do but put off for "someday." Make that someday "now."

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