Thursday, October 29, 2015

Quote for the Week

Fall has arrived in Houston.  Although the leaves won't turn until Thanksgiving, the sun is shining, the air is crisp and the breeze at night is sweet.  Happy autumn, everyone.

Sunday, October 25, 2015



I think everyone who lived through the Memorial Day flood has ptsd to some extent.  I know I do, even though I'm no longer in my house and am currently living  up on the third floor of an apartment complex.  Still, when I learned that the remnants of Hurricane Patricia were headed toward Houston, I was nervous.  I mean, the largest hurricane in history should have some pretty big remnants. 

As early as Friday evening, people were getting hourly updates on the approaching heavy rains.  Saturday I was signed up for an all-day workshop, but it was on the far west side of Houston, about an hour from my apartment.  I decided it was better to be safe than sorry and stayed home.  The rain was supposed to come at noon, then at 2:00, then at 4:00 and finally it began.  I might have been home from the workshop by then, but I was glad I didn't take a chance.

Although it's certainly not going to flood on the third floor, I spent the evening listening to severe weather alerts and checking the Internet for the water level of Brays Bayou.  Fortunately, no one got flooded, at least not in our neighborhood.  I'm sure everyone there, especially those who are rebuilding or rehabbing their homes, breathed a sigh of relief. 

Still, I wonder how long ptsd lasts? 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Quote for the Week

Last weekend my sister-in-law was here from San Francisco.  We hadn't seen each other in about eight years.  She and a friend of hers and my kids and I got together for lunch on Saturday and it was wonderful.  This quote seemed appropriate.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

You Can't Go Home Again

On Saturday my daughter Lori met a woman who does watercolors of houses.  "Maybe we could have her paint one of our house," I said, thinking it would be nice to have a picture of our home of 44 years that I sold after the flood.  I had promised myself I would never drive down our old street, that it would be painful, but I thought the plants in the front yard might be dead and would spoil the picture.
"Let's drive over and take a look," Lori said.  I was hesitant but I did want the picture.  So off we went. 
"I'm closing my eyes," I said when we turned down our street.  "Tell me if it looks okay."
"Oh. My. God!" Lori said.  "It's gone."
Logically I knew the builder who bought the house would tear it down and build a newer, bigger one.  But so soon?  I opened my eyes and there was an empty space.  Only the redbud tree and the crape myrtle and a few sad looking plants near the street still stood.
It made no sense, but I was in shock.  I dropped my head into my hands and clamped my eyes shut again.  Yes, I was glad to sell the house so quickly.  No, I didn't really miss it.  Still I sighed, "It's like 44 years of my life have been bulldozed away."
So we won't have the watercolor, but we do have photographs and no matter what, the house is still here in my head...and in my heart.
P.S. No, that's not a picture of the lot--it's one from Google Images. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

October 16, 2015: Ten Years a Widow

End and Beginning
October sun streamed across your face
As you took your last breath
Trapped in a hospital bed, surrounded by rails, unable to walk--
You were free at last,
And I was left behind.
When I shuffled toward the exit, the nurses barely glanced at me.
The room where you fought your last battle needed cleaning,
The ground prepared for another fight for life.
Patients are interchangeable.
I trudged into the sunlight,
Into the dark,
Along the rocky path of widowhood,
Ringed by ghosts,
Pierced by memories.
Five years now I've walked alone,
Maneuvered twists and turns,
Learned to stand upright.
Sturdier now, muscles forged in fire
And in ice.
I wrote this poem five years ago, entered it in the New Hampshire Poetry Contest and won first place.  It was also published in On Our Own:  Widowhood for Smarties.  I still feel the emotion of the lines I wrote, wonder how ten whole years have passed.  Sometimes our years together seem a dream, Ralph's illness a nightmare. 
He was an easy going man.  Nothing seemed to faze him, not even leukemia.  He supported me in everything I did, teased me endlessly, canceled out my vote in every election, local or national.  We raised out kids together,
(survived three teenagers, traveled as a ménage a trois (Ralph, his laptop and me)and made thirty-five years of memories.  I'll always treasure them...and him.
Ralph Zirkelbach   1940-2005

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Widows' Path: Walking Together

The widow's path is a lonely one, but walking it together with other widows eases the pain. 

 When my friend Gayle informed me she was starting a grief group at my synagogue and encouraged me to come, I was hesitant.  I was coming up on my tenth year of widowhood.  I was doing pretty well so why join a grief group now?  Still, I went, and I'm glad I did.  There's something profoundly comforting about being with others who also have loved and lost.  Even though I'm much farther along in my journey than the others in the group, I was surprised to find how much I've gained from being with these women.  Of course, women.  We're more likely to be the surviving spouse in a marriage and, I think, more likely to seek solace from engaging with other women in the same situation. 

These women have bonded and I have bonded along with them. Besides attending group meetings, we've had meals together,  attended services during the High Holidays and supported one another, even if it's just by listening.  So I'm glad I went to that first meeting and I hope to continue spending time with my "widowhood sisters" in the future.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Quote for the Week.....from a license plate

       Walking out of a restaurant, I noticed this personalized license plate on a car in       the parking lot:
One of my favorite quotes from my days in high school Latin.  Clever!
Need a translation?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Books of September

I became a fan of Liane Moriarty after reading Big Little Lies, but this book was a disappointment.  Hypnotist has a new boyfriend.  Boyfriend is being stalked by his ex-girlfriend.  Hypnotist thinks this is kinda fascinating.  Would you?  I wouldn't.  The story was overlong and didn't make sense.  Too bad, Liane.

Do you know "The Ballad of Tom Dooley?" 
"Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.  Hang down your head and cry...." (Be glad I'm writing this, not singing it--I'm tone deaf.)  Anyway, it's based on a true story and this book tells a somewhat fictionalized version.  Good but not great.  My book club gave it around a 6.5 out of 10.

Because I'm a language freak and because I loved Eats Shoots and Leaves, I was excited to get this book.  Alas, Mary Norris, copy editor at the New Yorker is not as readable  as Lynne Truss.  I am pretty strict about punctuation, but this told me far more about commas that I ever wanted to know.  However, I did learn some interesting facts.  Did you know there is a Pencil Sharpener Museum? 

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