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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Almost All Fixed


Image result for i am feeling better now
When I last posted here I believe I was wallowing in the blues and I believe there was Cappuccino Crunch involved. The trouble with blogging on a Sunday morning is that there's time to really throw a literary pity party. An itty bitty pity party can be good for the soul - I am sure - but full out wallowing with Cappuccino Crunch is probably not a great idea. And in fact, I am much better.






I'm not all fixed. But I'm almost all fixed.

It was good to identify the source of the sloth and the root of my defensiveness. I'm sure that not everyone I know was out to blame me for the troubles of the world - (God I hope not) -it just felt like that. I'm still not being very creative and there is still too much ice cream in my life but honestly - I am better.


Image result for bucket  of happinessAnd there was some outdoor play. And there was some camera play too. And a lovely party to celebrate BH's birthday. And there will be time with friends tomorrow. So I have a pretty nice bucket of joy in the making.

And there is time.  Time for missing Mama - and a time to just miss her. There is time to examine what is going on to see if I need to be so defensive. There is time to feel the love that's washing over me. And there will be a time when I am creative again. Just know - TheQueen is Almost All Fixed.





Sunday, July 19, 2015

Grieving Still

Image result for black cloud of grief I saw it coming - or rather - in hindsight I see when it started coming.  First I stopped making things. That should be - from now on will be - a harbinger of TheBlackCloudOfGrief. With half my brains in my fingertips, whenever they don't have anything to do - whenever I don't want to do anything manipulatively creative, I need to take a look inside and see what's bugging me - and maybe see if I can treat the sadness by being kind to myself.

Sometime in the spring I put down the sweater that I am 2 inches away from completing. I often don't finish things because, hey - ENFP - no interest in completion anyway. Often that little math puzzle of the decrease at the neckline can be enough to put me off my game - to trigger Startitis.   The trouble is - I didn't start anything new. I just ... stopped.

If half my brains are in my fingertips it's not surprising that what they have to say tends to spew onto the page - in forums, diaries, blog posts - but the silence was masked by the ordinary chatter of day to day living. The well of creative conversation was drying up and it was only now and then, when I was asked "what do you think?" and I had no answer - or when I thought "I ought to blog about that" and then sighed and felt it was all too much trouble -  that I began to grow suspicious.

And then the drawing. Or - the lack of drawing. Even when my little cousin came for a week and I still didn't feel the love of pen or pencil. Oh - I got out all the toys - but ... that rush of creativity just wasn't there. I felt a glimmer of it in Missy Foster's basket class in June - but that flicker of thought of adding New Toys to my life, while not unpleasant - or even unborn - was too feeble and too impractical at this moment - to be nurtured into real shopping therapy.  My house is already stuffed with Good Toys that I'm not using and the next few months of my social calendar are stuffed too. Nice to have a social life, I know, but it does mean there's no time for New Things.

Then came the dreaded Brat Eating. You know what that is - when you lean against the kitchen sink with the ice cream carton in one hand and a spoon in the other. When you reach for those salty crackers at 11 p.m. and say "I don't care".  When you say "just for this morning I'm going to put butter on that."  That Brat Eating has brought on the Scale Failure that I experienced this morning. It was not a pretty sight.

It was yesterday afternoon's Kitchen Sink Ice Cream Sundae that smacked me up-side the head, but it was a brief conversation with a friend who'd lost his son a few weeks ago that scraped the film off the window into my heart. I began by commiserating and asking tender questions but it ended up with me vomiting out my own pain. Fortunately it was just a bit at the end - at least - I hope I didn't turn the conversation into something completely All About Me - but oh wow. That's when I realized that pretty soon I won't be able to say "a year ago Mama and I ...." We're coming up on the anniversary of her death and it's quaking inside me. It hurts so bad. The future looks so bleak - no wonder I don't care how fat I get and besides, Mama and I both loved ice cream so much. I can see her still, with a bowl of it in her hand, sitting in her rocker and promising the universe that "you see - I didn't eat any breakfast and I won't eat any lunch so it's alright to eat this ice cream - and it's just a little slice of cake".

Well. Mama was a cutie and a nut and riddled with self deceptive tricks. Besides - I didn't care if she ate badly - and for goodness sake - she lived till she was 91 years old. What more do you want? What more do I want?

Huh. I'll tell you what I want. I WANT MY MAMA!

I have lost loved ones before. I miss them terribly but the missing is a sweet act in itself. When I have that ache for my mother-in-law I also have a rush of joy filled memories. She too, could be exasperating and say the goofiest untruths - and I thought they were cute too. And Pop - my father in law - oh my - I knew him for such a short time and yet his impact on me was so profound - so lasting. Then there's Daddy! I miss him too - but mostly I miss the entertainment factor and my goodness - he left that behind, because there's always another story about Daddy - one for every social opportunity - every need for comic relief - every time I need to remember that it could be worse.

But this missing Mama.

Sigh.

Okay. So it's been eating away at me. It's grief. I am grieving still and even if you think it - you better not say "Get a life". This fleeing from grief that is the new societal more is just crap. It's a denial of everything that makes having a life worth living. I am still grieving and by golly I'll grieve till I'm done with it. And I'll cut myself a little slack about the Kitchen Sink Ice Cream binge but I think now that I know what's going on I can maybe do something else that's as indulgent as ... you know ... Cappuccino Crunch.

I know there is joy up ahead. Pardon me while I wallow a little bit longer.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

STAYcation 15






We did that on Sunday - we caught the Jamestown Ferry - part of VDOT's dwindling ferry system. I believe they only operate 2 other little ferries, both of them in the Northern Neck. There is Hatton Ferry, a historic polled ferry outside of Charlottesville that operates in the summer and you can get to Maryland on White's Ferry and you can take a roundabout way onto the NC Outer Banks via the Knott's Landing Ferry.  Isn't it funny that the 2 that are closest to me I've never taken. The Jamestown Ferry is by far the most fun one because it takes you across such wide water, gives you great views of  the boats at Jamestown Settlement, Jamestown Island, with it's old brick church and of course because all those gulls and cormorants hang around hoping  you'll toss them something to eat. When I know ahead of time that I'll be taking the ferry I buy a loaf of bread and feed them. When it's an unexpected delight I content myself with the camera's joys.

Some camera joys:








I'm indulging in a Staycation this week, hurriedly planned when I realized that I was going to werk and sitting like a lump instead of actually werking. I needed a break and I needed it badly - and there was only this one week in my summer schedule when I could indulge. So here I am, at home, with nothing much on the calendar but kayaks, cameras and naps. And rain. Which I will get to in a moment.

First I want to explain to you exactly where Eco Discovery Park is - because goodness it's hard to find - especially if you don't know that is what you should be looking for. That is where you can rent a bicycle to ride the Virginia Capital Trail - a delightful meander along Rt. 5 between Jamestown and Charles City Courthouse ... with a little bit in Richmond at the end. The intervening segment is under construction with the intention of linking all three Virginia capital cities sometime at the end of this summer.

TheQueen does not own a bike. Or rather, she doesn't own a functioning bike and she's not all that sure she wants one. Biking around here is not so interesting - it's something that requires a CAR and ... somehow that just doesn't seem like biking. Not that I would never buy a bike. But I am unlikely to do so. Maybe. I don't know. What I do know is that I love getting on a wide seated bicycle and tooling along flat terrain just to see what I can see. See things like wildlife, wild rivers... er... placid ones, anyway, and beautiful VA scenery. Oh la and remind me to never again let ThePrince take my picture!



Whenever we have taken these bike trips, though, we get all excited about buying our own bikes. We shop on-line. I even went to 2 Richmond bike shops yesterday while doing some city errands. Then we talk ourselves back out of buying slightly pricey toys that we know we won't use at home. So far, we've been able to rent bikes at the trails we've ridden and sound money management would lead us to continue to do so. I'm just not sure owning something I have to load onto a car before I can really enjoy it is a smart, or even an  honest thing to do. 

But these trails - oh my. 2 for 2 right now - they are wonderful fun ways to spend a day off. I'm thinking that it would be fun to ride on all of them - at least, all of the rural ones. I'm particularly interested in the ones out in southwest VA. And if I really did set a goal to ride all what? 300 miles of bike paths ... maybe my own bike would be worth the investment. We'll just have to see. Goal setting isn't my thing. Not that I don't do it - but it always depresses me. I mean - so what? You reach your goal of riding all the trails and then quit? Repeat? go find some OtherGoal? Me? TheQueen? The queen of ENFPs? I don't think so. LOL. I'm already talking myself out of it. 

Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 80%Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 80%Chance Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 40%Chance Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 40%Chance Thunderstorms Chance for Measurable Precipitation 50%

So this is what the weather dot com guys are offering me for the rest of the week. No sunny days till Saturday. Isn't that a bummer? Mind now - I'm glad for the rain. I'm ALWAYS glad for rain in June, July and August. But. Rats.

Image result for lewis ginter botanical gardens And funerals. I had planned to hook up with Sister tomorrow but there is a funeral I would go to. We were going to visit Louis Ginter Botanical Gardens but now there is likely to be rain we might change the venue and maybe even the date.

Plans just change. That's the beauty of a STAYcation - no big deal - no real plans - just ... whatever. And naps.

Naps are for those of us who see sleep as a recreational activity. Not quite as invigorating as kayaking but certainly as healing. When I am retired - I shall not wear a red hat and a purple dress (and look like all the other old ladies). I shall NAP.

And I will be back later in the week with a report of OtherThings. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Missing Mama on Mother's Day

Mama and me 
Last Monday I had another of those heart clutching moments that turned my expression sour - as I realized I won't get to celebrate Mother's Day with Mama this year. It's funny how this whole process of grieving for Mama is so full of grouchy anger. You'd think I'd be sad. Instead I'm ticked off at TheUniverse-and-TheWayThingsAre. Grrrrr. Fortunately, God has broad shoulders and  He understands that we all grieve in our own ways. If I didn't know Mama and I would be together some day I would probably be sad instead of mad.

Here at TheCastle we don't really "do" Mother's Day. For almost all of the early years we were too poor to celebrate with stuff and there were other dynamics that prevented us from celebrating in less costly ways. I assured LD that it was just a Halmark Card Holiday and he wasn't to feel compelled to "do" anything. But heck. We didn't "do" Valentine's day either. Lordy - either we really were poor as church mice or I had no confidence in ThePrince - a man who's sentimentality is almost completely self focused - either remembering the day or devising a suitable response.  (probably a little bit of both) It was just easier to have no expectations than to have them crushed.

I know better now and just remind ThePrince that Valentine's day is coming and a poem on a heart is required. In return he gets steak-in-the-kitchen - which we both thoroughly enjoy.

But for Mama. Ahh. That was different. In fact, I lavished special things on both mamas in May because I loved my mother in law  second only to my own dear Mama. She has been gone so long the pinch and the grouchiness has abated but this is the first year in a long time that I haven't gone to spend time with my sweet little mother and oh my goodness how I wish I had one more opportunity. But now I think of it - neither of those women were very sentimental either. Mama always smiled gently at us when we presented our grubby little wild flower bouquets. We wheedled Daddy to drive into town to the drugstore to buy Whitman's Samplers. He always said "She's not my mother. Why should I buy her anything?" But we knew, even then, that he was the sentimental one and had planned all along to take us shopping for a Mother's Day gift. He even paid for everything instead of making us use our allowances. No. The real story is that he was the one who'd be hurt if we were lax or forgot - either the Father's Day thing or his Valentine. So, perhaps Mama is the one who influenced me about not getting all caught up in the gift giving guilt thing. Good thing, too, since ThePrince and I really did live on a shoestring for that first decade.

Besides - I honored Mama every day. I have never liked to talk on the telephone - not even when I was a teen. But I could talk to her every day on the phone and often did. In those early years when we didn't have a telephone, I wrote her letters. I have a box of them now, that she saved and I collected when we emptied her house out 8 years ago.  I shared things with her regularly. She knew about every joy and every triumph and I was careful to shield her from any bad news because I knew how sharply my pain pricked her. Yet if it was important I would share because she was the only one who could soothe. There really never was a Mother's Day for us - not even a Mother's 365 Day. For us, the love, the honor, the devotion was constant. I was deeply blessed by a mother who loved me and it's something that strengthens my spine and shields my tender heart every single day.

So this year, like all the other First Time Without Mama things, Mother's Day will come and pinch my heart and then go. It is just The Way Things Are. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

She's Launched!









Yesterday was one of those crystal blue persuasion days and as I came back into the office from the mailbox it struck me - I will be werk werk werkin' so hard this month it might pass me by and I'll never have spent an afternoon outside. With 190 hours of vacation saved up (werk werk werk, that's all I do ) I suddenly decided to Play Hooky. I knew we were covered, btw, and I had nothing pressing on my desk. Instead I took a favorite salad home, (Subway's chopped Mediterranean salad - YUM) and had a picnic out in the yard. ThePrince had just cut the grass a few days ago and in May I actually have grass - or something growing that's green, at least, so I felt very a la magazine.  You know that feeling - the one you get when your house is sparkling clean and you have the nice stuff out and maybe company's coming and you feel proud ... like your house or garden is as good as the ones in the magazines.

I just sat there, looking in every direction, watching the pups gambol about, just allowing my soul to be open. That means eating slowly and trying to taste each bite - which is supposed to keep one from overeating - though it was 2 o'clock and I was really hungry. But there - I digress. The goal of my hooky playing self was to take the kayak out for her first trip of 2016.  This was a birthday present that came to me a few days before Mama died and after that, though I took it out several times, my memory of those days is all black and shrouded and then, you know, winter - and dark - and cold. So yeah.

I am reminded of a cute story about a wonderful woman I know. She met and married her husband shortly before he shipped off to Europe in 1943. He was gone several years and when he came home she greeted him by offering to shake hands. There just hadn't been enough time to cement a relationship.

Well. That is how I've been feeling about my kayak. We met, we fell in love, and then a dark pall fell on our love story followed by the long separation of winter. I was a little hesitant about taking her out again. Not to worry. The moment I slipped into the cockpit I felt like I was back home again and we slid away from the pier as a single unit. I was one with my boat.

Image result for old town loon 111 with paddle strapThePrince had created a simple stowage system at the end of the pier so I can hang the kayak out all summer (and not have to drag it the 400 feet back to the bank). I can even launch it at low tide! The wide open cockpit of an Old Town Loon is easy to get into and I love how it has a little elastic strap to hold the paddle in place while you're coming aboard. I'll be buying some sort of tarp or cover to protect it from UV damage but it'll be okay for a day or two. This tiny craft - not 12 feet long - just feels like it was designed for me ... and believe me ... I have looked at and even paddled a LOT of kayaks. I could have spent more $$ but why? Perfect is perfect.

I was hoping I could take the dogs along with me since I did not want a kayak to see how many miles I could cover in 20 minutes. I wanted something I could use to nose up into little inlets, poke into marshy guts, sit quietly in while I listened to red winged blackbirds sing. I figured I'd be going slow enough that they'd be able to swim along with me.

NOT

Those poor things were not just exhausted, but they made a lot of noise swimming so my peaceful trip was accompanied by snuffing and huffing. Also - we've allowed these dogs to tussle so much and so hard that they think it's a good thing to try to duck a sister in the water. Juno is so much bigger than Callie I'm afraid she'll drown her sister. I can take Callie out alone because she's the better swimmer and she's small enough that I can actually put her in the cockpit with me ... something she loves ... but most of the time they'll go in the pen when I go out.

Still and all we made it up Farmer's Hall Creek far enough to see one of Tom Tombe's eagles eyeing us from his guard station. There are 3 active nests within easy walking distance of my house and I am determined to photograph at least one of them. With the new camera. The one I am still learning how to use, but am falling more in love with every day.  I didn't take it out with me yesterday because - well - New Camera - and First Kayak Ride of the season.

Exiting the kayak is the toughest part of the trip. The whole process is a gravity defying adventure, for this boat is narrow and it rocks and I must climb up out of it, depending on the tide, anywhere from a few inches to 2.5 feet. Remember now - a kayak is narrow and tippy. Remember also that I am old and have an injured and weak rotator cuff. Then there is the penalty for any misstep - 4 feet of ooozy black marsh mud. Note Juno's beautiful white fur? Yeah.

Here is a picture of a pro doing it with only maybe 18 inches of rise:
Image result for exiting a kayak onto a pier

I have the thigh strength to do this but alas, I come into my pier on the bad shoulder side.  Fortunately I don't have to use this technique. ThePrince shoved a cedar post into the marsh just far enough from the pier that I can slip the bow between it and the pier, keeping it from rocking. I can tie the stern to the pier with it's mooring line and then all I have to do is center my feet and push up with my legs. Voila! TheQueen is on the pier!

And now it is Saturday and lo. Here comes the sun after a misty start to the day. There will be More Kayaking today.