Friday, January 23, 2009


Hey there-

There is a plant in the sunroom that is dying.

It is not the only plant in the sunroom, but it was given to Bob and me from some good friends when he was first diagnosed. A nice arrangement with a purple african violet and some philodendron. I am surprised it has lasted this long, but that african violet had the most gorgeous blooms and it just kept on blooming.

The african violet petered out a few months ago and the philodendron is now on it's last legs. It is sad watching something alive die, even a plant. Why don't I just throw it out and put it out of it's misery I wonder? Why do I continue to pick off the browning leaves and water it?

The other night I was on Arthur's bunk bed reading him a story. Looking over at Henry's bunk I noticed that the quilt that Bob's sister, Kathy, made for the each of the boys out of Bob's T-shirts was beginning to show serious wear. The "Freddy Jones Band" T-shirt was in threads and the "Paws Down the Best Beer in Town" is illegible, all that is left is a tattered paw print. Are there enought T-shirts to make another quilt? Can I ask that of Kathy?

Then I went in the kitchen to unload the dishwasher and I found one of Bob's All Clad Ltd. pots in there. I tried not to think about Bob, sifting in his urn once again, at the thought of one of his beloved pans being washed in the harsh detergent and agitating water of the dishwasher. The once clear black finish looks mottled and gray.

Then our dryer broke which led to the purchase of a new washer and dryer which led to memories of the last washer and drier I bought when Bob and I were living in Portland. We bought the pair used for $200. Without talking specifics let's just say Mike and I spent more than $200 on the new set.

To make matters worse, one of the new kittens has torn a hole in the arm of the big chair with it's tiny claws as it frantically jumps to the window to watch the children walk to school. Bob proudly brought that chair home from a second hand store one day soon after Henry was born. The big chair played a big part in the life of our old house and continues to play a big part in the life of my new house, even the step-children affectionately call it the Big Chair, and it holds a coveted spot in the sunroom across from the dying plant.

Mike casually mentioned at dinner last night that getting the chair reupholstered would probably cost more than buying a new chair.

"I can't emotionally handle getting a new chair at this point," I blurted as tears sprung up in my eyes.

Everything from my life with Bob is looking old and worn and breaking.

One of the hardest things for me to reconcile after he died was that one day I would talk about Bob as if he were just someone I knew once. One day I would be able to talk about him the same way I talk about a roommate I once had in college. This person who had been the most important person in my life, my best friend, the father of my children, and the person who I was to grow old with would seem demoted somehow.

Intellectually I know this phenomenon is required. One can't function for an extended period of time with the kind of heightened state of emotion I felt initially every time his name was brought up or every time the boys and I sat in the big chair for bedtime stories.

But it's sad. Call me foolishly sentimental.

I know that these items are just things and that the real memories live in my heart and mind. (while these things may be aging too they are not likely to be replaced) That being said, I am so grateful for the boys and the tangible evidence of Bob and my relationship.

Sometimes, if not for Henry and Arthur, I am afraid I might think our entire relationship was merely a dream.

A wonderful dream.

Thanks for checking in-


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Strep Throat

Hey there-

Henry is sick, he has strep throat.

Knowing that the illness was coming on last night Henry decided a bath was in order. I like to put lavender and marjoram in the tub when he is sick so I offered to draw the bath for him. He politely declined my offer and plodded off to the bathroom with a serious look and hunched shoulders, focused on his task. I had to look twice to make sure it wasn't Bob plodding off to that bathroom to heal himself in a big tub of warm sweetly scented water.

I was suddenly flooded with flashes of Bob and his silent plodding through all of the treatments that were thrown at him during that last year. Bob was no complainer. He was simply perplexed by his body's failure to comply to the desired outcome.

Henry's independent and no nonsense approach to his health is so much like his dad's was that whenever Henry is sick I have the sensation that Bob is walking around on the earth. I love these moments of recognition, as if Bob has inhabited his body for an instant, offering Henry his contemplative nature.

When Bob first died I felt like he took the best of me with him. Now, when I see his traits alive and well in Henry, I am reminded that Bob left the best of himself with us.

Thanks for checking in-


Monday, January 12, 2009

Dusty Rainbows

As the winter of 2003 progressed, Bob’s health began to spiral downward. The pain in his shoulder spread to his knee and turned severe. One cold Saturday afternoon Henry and I were playing at the bottom of the stairs. The sun shone through the stained glass windows in our foyer, making small dusty rainbows that floated in the air.

Henry liked to pile his blocks on the patches of red, yellow and green that filtered through the pocket door and landed on the tan carpet. He was fascinated by the way the reflections changed the color of the wood in his hands.

Bob was in the pantry rearranging our dwindling stock of canned peaches and pears, methodically moving the Ball jars from one side of the pantry to the other, the phone balanced between his shoulder and cheek. He was telling the on-call nurse about the pain he was experiencing, explaining to her that he had taken some Vicodin he left over from some earlier situation.

I suddenly felt uneasy, “My God, what is going on?” I thought to myself. “He sounds like a junkie on the phone, are we in trouble here?” I wondered.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Life Cycle

Hey there-

Some of you might notice (but probably not) that in the "About Me" section of my blog there has been an update. The snake, Pluto, died a few weeks ago and two new kitties have joined the family. The kittens were a family gift for the Solstice and have been a wonderful addition.

The sad thing is that the kids get more upset about feeding their WebKinz animals on time than they did when Pluto died.

I think Arthur's reaction was; "Pluto's dead? Oh, can I go on the computer?"

What compassion. I have actually had to remind the boys that they have real live animals in the house that need to be fed and cared for.

So, lessons on the life cycle are alive and well here at our house. Here's hoping that the obsession with WebKinz dies quickly.

Thanks for checking in-


Friday, January 2, 2009

The KitchenAid

Hey there-

The KitchenAid has been born again! Bob would be so happy.

The KitchenAid was Bob's thing. He registered for it and he used it for anything from scones to pound cake, although it got the most use for his famous pizza crust which he made a few times a month. It is not that I don't enjoy baking, I just prefer stirring with a wooden spoon, it seems simpler somehow, and less mess to clean up.

After Bob died the KitchenAid got shoved from a place of prominence in the kitchen to a back corner behind cereal boxes. I pulled it out and dusted it off once a year on his birthday to try and reproduce his pizza as a way of honoring his memory with the boys and Bob's family. Inbetween birthdays we settled with pre-made pizza dough from Trader Joes, at least we could still roll it out and throw it in the air, right?

Recently, my 12-year-old step-daughter, Natalie, has discovered the KitchenAid and has brought it out of hiding. She delights in all of it's parts and has used it for cookies, cake, and now pizza crust.

The other night I planned pizza for dinner and instead of purchasing pre-made dough I decided Natalie could help me use the KitchenAid. She removed it carefully from it's hiding place and inserted the instrument I told her would be best for mixing dough. We carefully read Bob's recipe (he has notes in the cookbook where he fiddled with the best measurements) and followed them as best we could. Natalie kneaded the dough until it was "smooth and elastic" and the crusts turned out quite well.

After we finished up Natalie carefully unplugged the KitchenAid before removing the mixing instrument. Upon my inquiry she responded that the directions say to unplug the machine before removing any parts.

Ah, reading the instructions, what a novel idea, Bob would really be thrilled now. Not only will someone use the KitchenAid but they will use it the correct way. Nice.

Who knows, maybe the KitchenAid might come out of the shadows behind the cereal and regain a proud place on the counter? Since Natalie was not the one who cleaned all of these parts that she handled so lovingly I doubt it will be any time soon. For now, I will stick with my wooden spoon.

Thanks for checking in-