Sunday, December 31, 2006

Last day of the year, and I've got the AC on. It's not really that warm outside, 66 is all, but I've been vacuuming and shampooing carpet, so I needed some cool air. I always find new pet stains after a rainy day, and yesterday we had steady rain all day and into the night. I think the tranquilizer helped Jay-Jay; he didn't seem nearly so nervous.

Music files have been added to our church's website. Click on the link to St. Philips on the sidebar, then go to the choir page for some of our music from Dec. 10 and Dec. 24. More will be added, but it's still being edited. Today was the choir's easy day, music wise; everything was out of the hymnal, no anthems, only 2 descants.

Benji and Karen are on their way from Mobile and should be here around 4:30 or 5. I'm going to try to catch a little nap before they get here.

Happy New Year to all!
9pm...Pip and Bella try out Pip's new xylophone. I'm so pleased that he is already interested in and enjoying music. We opened gifts after they got here, then they left for a New Year's Eve celebration with friends. Mike is already asleep and it's only 9 pm. Oh well! I'm kinda sleepy myself.
See y'all next year!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

I’ve seen the lightning flashing, I’ve heard the thunder roll.
I’ve felt sin’s breakers dashing, trying to conquer my soul.
I’ve heard the voice of my Savior, bidding me still to fight on.
He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone!

We're having stormy weather at the moment, and Jay-Jay is pacing the floor. I gave him an herbal tranquilizer but it has not taken effect yet. It's the first time I've used it, so I'm anxious to see if it helps. Storms are forecast for the whole day.

Mary Ann and the boys are headed back to Tampa today, and Jeanette is going back to Baldwyn. Benji and Karen will be on the road from Mobile to my house. Protect all our loved ones, Lord, as they travel the wet highways this week-end.

Happy Birthday to Karen! Isn't she a foxy 40! Surrounded here by her 3 beautiful children and a niece. She gave Benji a new digital camera (Canon Powershot A540) for Christmas, so I'm expecting to see even more of his photography soon.

We made a very pleasant trip to Gautier yesterday. Mike was relaxed and sweet all the way there and back. I wish he could see the difference in his attitude and behavior that I see when he's sober as opposed to inebriated. It really is as stark as Jekyll and Hyde.

We enjoyed a wonderful meal with Lori's family. They have recently taken in a foster child who is a little older than Matthew. John fits right into the mix. An outsider would never know he's been in the family for only a few months.

I think the tranquilizer is helping Jay-Jay. He's quit pacing and is on the bed asleep. Mary Ann may want to try this with Maggie.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Mary Ann's sister Lori has invited us to their holiday dinner this evening in Gautier. As much as I would like to go, I don't want to make another trip with Mike. In fact, I promised myself in Illinois at Thanksgiving that that was the last one. Maybe I should just take off without him while he's at the gym. Nah, that would be mean. We'll probably go, since it's not but about 6 hours of road time round trip. Surely, my husband can maintain civility for that long. Maybe I should give him a Xanex with his lunch.

Skip's visit was much too brief, as usual. I wish he lived in the next block, instead of the next state. I would really enjoy more frequent conversations with him. He talked very straight with Mike about our need for couple therapy. Mike doesn't realize how close to the end of my rope I feel sometimes. He advised Mike to sacrifice the pleasure of drinking until the deeper issues between us are resolved. On a scale of 1-10, his satisfaction with our marriage is about 8 or 9, mine is about 2. He has no idea how dissatisfied I am or why.

Well, if we're going to Gautier, I need to get ready. Maybe I can write more later...
Mary Ann made this picture of all the boys at Lori's house. From left to right, Matthew, Clay, Cooper, John. Baby Aiden is in front. Clay and Cooper belong to Ricky and Mary Ann. The rest are Lori and Marshall's.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Busy, busy morning, not much time for blogging, gotta straighten up my messy house before the cuz arrives. The Christmas tree needs refreshing. Mick plays in it every night after we go to bed, so every morning there are ornaments on the floor including at least one of the cardinals. He loves the idea that these birds don't fly away, so he can actually capture them and bring them down out of the tree. That the tree is still standing is a miracle.

Last night's party was fun, delicious food and wine, beautiful decorations, and some of my favorite people in the whole world. (Pictures are posted on my FLICKR site, just click on My Pictures in the sidebar.) Amazing how free I feel without my ball and chain. I really need to start attending the Weds. night suppers after rehearsals, but Mike always protests, or wants to tag along, and he's such a wet blanket, I'd rather just skip it. David gave us CD's of our performances on Nov. 26, Solemn Mass, and Lessons and Carols on Dec. 10. Our choir never sounded better. He definitely knows how to get the best from us.

I'm not sure how the evening with Skip will go. Mike is insisting on drinking wine if we do, and we always do. I learned last night that Sutter Home makes a great non-alcoholic Champagne. I may try to find some of that today and see if we can't just stick to that. He's missing his drinks, but I'm not missing Mr. Hyde, who always shows up with the alcohol. I know I can't keep him "on the wagon," but I also don't need to make it easy for him to fall off. Another day, another dilemma...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Rather than going out to eat yesterday, I cooked a really good lunch and then we watched a movie - Sunset Boulevard from 1950. What a tragic portrayal of those given to spells of melancholy, living in the past, longing for the glory that was yesterday's, unable to age gracefully. "There's nothing tragic about being fifty. Not unless you're trying to be twenty-five," Joe Gillis tells Norma Desmond.

One of her lines about silent movies reminded me of one of blogging's appeals - There once was a time in this business when I had the eyes of the whole world! But that wasn't good enough for them, oh no! They had to have the ears of the whole world too. So they opened their big mouths and out came talk. Talk! TALK!

And this one - We didn't need dialogue. We had faces!

And she also said - You are... writing words, words, more words! Well, you'll make a rope of words and strangle this business! But there'll be a microphone there to catch the last gurgles, and Technicolor to photograph the red, swollen tongues!

Makes me wonder about myself, just how gracefully am I aging? How much of yesteryear would I reclaim if I could? Would I be happier with silent pictures, no dialogue, black and white rather than Technicolor? There are days when the answer to that is yes. If I weren't taking Zoloft, those days would be more frequent than they are.

"All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up."

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

You have lived such a gentle life upon this earth
That I am stunned by your sight.
If I could give but a token of the love you give
Then I might not be this lonely tonight.

Let them have their smug and their cool
confined by fashion and peer
I love you for your courage
in this frightened atmosphere

Ah, there are so few brave ones like you
Need I explain?
Never wondering what to do,
what to venture, what to gain-
And you have loved in a total way,
from flesh to soul
You speak without coy, without pose
Your eyes can see that the Emperor
has lost his clothes
And what's more you'll tell the whole world
what he stole.

These are the lyrics to a song by Don McLean, "A Gentle Life." Mike gave them to me in 1991, said they reminded him of me. They touched my heart and melted my cold resolve to leave him behind. A month later, he proposed and I accepted. A year later we were married in the chapel at St. Andrew's Cathedral. Today is our 14th anniversary. I go back to these words to remind myself why I love the man I married. He is a musician with the heart of a poet, and at his best, a deeply spiritual and intelligent man who gets it. He loved my mind, my courage, and the fact that I am a strong woman. How did he know that I was looking for someone to admire those qualities in me that have intimidated lesser men? I thought he was brave to even get involved with me.

If there were ever a man who needed a strong woman, it's him. I've stood between him and hell's fury more than once. His history, his health, his habits, more demons there than I can fight sometimes. It's been one heart-breaking challenge after another. Perhaps I needed more lessons on my human frailty and fallibility. I get them daily.

Mike is still best friends with Ron, the tall best man pictured here. Carol, the matron of honor, and I lost touch years ago. Maintaining friendships is one of the qualities that I admire the most about him. My friends don't usually stick around as long as his. My marriage and other family relations take all I have to give. There's very little left over for friendships, and I regret that, but that's the way it is.

Your eyes can see that the Emperor has lost his clothes,
And what's more, you'll tell the whole world what he stole.

Maybe that's why blogging appeals to me like it does. My husband, the prophet? Ha!

Monday, December 25, 2006

It's the middle of crunch time for the choir. Christmas Eve service came off without a hitch until the very end when a bass pedal on the organ got stuck. The orchestra we had was first class. The choir's music made David smile after every song, always a good sign (he even swooned after one), and he had been in such a foul humor. James (pictured on the left) did "Sweet Little Jesus Boy," and Harry Belafonte's "Long Time Ago in Bethlehem." My reading from Isaiah was as good as any I've ever done. Plantersville was well represented on the night's program with Jerry McWhorter serving as one of the Lay Eucharistic Ministers, and me as a Lector.

On Weds., we have an abbreviated rehearsal, then a choir appreciation dinner given by David. On Sunday, we're doing a Lessons and Carols service, then on Jan. 6 the Epiphany Service. It's probably good that our choir members are mostly older with family obligations behind us. The few young singers we have are single, or married without children. Those with children still at home start out with good intentions, but always drop out.

I talked to Skip yesterday and he's planning to come on Thursday. He's spending today with son Jonathan. Helen called yesterday morning, thinking he had already driven to my house, very annoyed with him because she couldn't get him on the phone. He doesn't have a cell phone and doesn't want one. My suggestion that Santa give him one for Christmas annoyed her even more. Evidently, she's tried several times to convince him he needs one, so have I, to no avail. She's in Denver with daughter Lillian and grandbaby Julia. Everything in Denver came to a standstill last week with a record-breaking snowstorm, which probably accounted for some of her crankiness.

More later...

Currently, it's 42* and raining. Any wonder I like cold rainy weather for Christmas shopping? It's typical Christmas weather here, really puts me in the mood for tramping from one store to the next, even with crowds. Oh well, maybe next year.

I talked to Benji and Ricky this morning. Clay and Cooper were into the full swing of their new games and toys. Benji's crew will do their Santa on the 27th in Mobile. They were picking up Bella and Phin at noon and headed to Aunt Pat's tonight for Christmas Dinner, then on to the other grandparents. I'm expecting them here this weekend. Mary Ann and her boys will be spending a few days in Gautier with her sister and plan to connect with Benji while he's in Mobile.

(Picture added on 12-30-06, made with Benji's new camera? His dad is in the middle of the back row. His sister Jenny is the 2nd from the left sitting on the sofa. Ok, this is all of them: front row, l to r: Cooper, Pip, Phin, Clay; 2nd row: Charlotte, Jenny, Mary Ann, Bella; back row: Benji, Mamie, Richard, Karen, Billy.)

It was Ricky's turn to stay in town for Christmas holidays, in case of emergency at his office. Not sure when I can get their gifts to them, maybe Mary Ann can make a short trip up here while she's at Lori's. Maybe I can make a quick trip down there.

Lunch at Betsy's house was delicious and way too filling. Within about 30 minutes, my head was looking for a napping pillow. I didn't get but about 5 hours sleep last night, so the nap was longer than usual. Both puppies curled up with me and kept me warm. I felt like I could have slept until tomorrow morning with no trouble at all, but Mike woke me up for his afternoon arm exercises.

Tomorrow we celebrate our 14th anniversary with lunch at the Edison Walthall downtown and probably a movie. It's been a wild ride, these 14 years with Mike, times when I was sure I made a mistake in marrying him and times when I was so glad I did. But isn't that how most marriages are?

Get well wishes to Tara who broke her foot on their stairs yesterday. She's 8 months pregnant, and has 2 year old twins, and a cast on her foot, poor Baby! I hope her nanny is available for extra hours, sounds like she needs lots of help. Update on Tara: she didn't break her foot, just a toe. Whew! That was close, Sweetie, be careful!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

After lunch, Mike and I visited Mother at the nursing home. I took her gift, a card, and some old Christmas pictures for her to see. She liked the new blue sweater, "Looks warm," she said. Then she read the card aloud several times showing it to us like we'd never seen it. She recognized her children in the pictures, but didn't know Daddy. "Don't you remember Silas Johnson, your good-looking husband?" I asked. She looked at me with the blankest stare, then shook her head, "No, I don't," she replied. We went through this several times. She never showed any recognition of Daddy.
She had a Christmas card from Ricky Bishop, and claimed to remember him, but not Daddy. I finally gave up, as she nodded off for her afternoon nap. Merry Christmas, Jack!
Another doll for Betsy in 1953? Maybe it was the equivalent of lumps of coal for her mischief-making. The red flannel nightgowns were monogrammed, wonder who did that? Probably Deedo. And Paul has a look of pure ecstasy on his face. He was 3 when he found his electric train running under the tree. In addition to the dolls, there is a toy stove, complete with pots and pans, and a cupboard with dishes. That was considered quite a haul back then, even if Betsy didn't get any guns, at least, she's smiling (succumbing to the pressure to be more lady-like?).

Our stockings usually held fruits and nuts, chocolate and peppermint candy, and fireworks. I get a craving for tangerines at this time of year, which goes back to these Christmas stockings, I'm sure, one of the few things I can eat that our dogs don't want to share.

Mike brought home a box of chocolate covered cherries on Friday, but they have dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate, with peppermint cream filling. They are delectable. His favorite Christmas candy was the cream filled chocolate drops that used to be called N_____ Toes, not a politically correct name for them now, but it was the 50's in Mississippi. Seems there was a nut known by the same misnomer.

The choir has the morning off due to the late service tonight, so we're relaxing at home. I've got to make a run to Kroger sometime today to replenish my supply of tangerines and walnuts, which reminds me of something I wondered as I wandered the aisles of Walmart last week - whatever happened to all the Black Walnut trees we used to have in the South? My mother made a black walnut cake with caramel icing that was my favorite. Now all I ever see is English walnuts. Are they the same? Do they grow in Mississippi? Seems there were Black Walnut trees aplenty when I was a child. With the thick soft hull, they were hard to get to, then they had to dry out for a while, but well worth the wait.

Another Christmas treat we enjoyed was coconut in ambrosia, pies, cookies, and cakes. We bought the whole coconut which required Papaw's use of a sledge hammer to crack, so he always got to drink the milk from it. The meat was ground in a crank grinder that I still have. (There were several discs for this tool at one time, but I only have one. It works fine for cheese, however.)

Other homemade treats included hand-pulled taffy which couldn't be made unless it was real cold outside. We put it on the back porch to set, and unless it was cold, it didn't set right. Mother's specialty was divinity, no Christmas was complete without it.

Deedo also made the best peanut brittle I ever ate. Papaw raised a good crop of peanuts in his garden every year, so there was usually a supply of parched peanuts, or boiled peanuts, or peanut brittle, and not just at Christmas. I remember smelling boiling peanuts when getting off the school bus in the afternoons. Now that's a delight for a hungry school child! I stopped at the fruit stand on Old Fannin and bought a big bag of boiled peanuts on Friday. They were boiling them when I drove by and the aroma pulled me in like a magnet. Shoulda got tangerines while I was there.

Well, looks like I've unlocked one of those doors and the room was filled with lots of sweet treats and memories. I hope everybody has some good memories to recall of Christmases past.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

When I first moved to Jackson in 1987, Pearl was described as the armpit of Jackson, not an inviting place, to be sure, especially at Christmastime. Lots of poor people live in low rent houses and mobile homes in Pearl. Some of the yards stay decorated year-round with Frosty the Snowman and other seasonal tackiness. Northpark Mall was new and County Line Rd was the place to be if you enjoyed doing the bottleneck boogie. For years I fought its crowds and got entangled in all its holiday traffic. After Flowood built its new mall and shopping centers, Lakeland Drive became another County Line Road.

Then one Christmas when I was not in the mood for crowds and road rage, I ventured into the discount stores in Pearl. Roses's was my favorite. It's been a store I've patronized several times since, and not just at Christmas. Yesterday was the day. Where else can a shopper park within 10 feet of the store's door and then find bargains galore? I regretted not having done more of my shopping there earlier.

From there I went to Crossgates, which the upper class Pearl people developed to overcome the stigma of the old stores in the original shopping centers of their town. Fred's, Big Lots, Dollar General, Hancock's and Fads and Frames were where I spent several hours yesterday, enjoying Christmas music, neat stores, low prices, helpful store clerks, and no crowds. Why would anybody choose insanity over sanity?

I noticed that most of the shoppers were close to my age or older. Wisdom of the aged, perhaps? Even Santa Claus was there, incognito, of course. He is a jolly old elf, and somewhat of a flirt. He followed me around Dollar General to see if I knew all the words to "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree." (I did.) When he saw the candy I was buying for choir friends, he volunteered to come sing in our choir. "Tenor or bass?" I asked him. "I actually used to sing tenor in my church's choir," he confessed. "Oh, good, we need another tenor," I said. (What church choir doesn't?) Turns out, Santa is a Baptist, and quit the choir after he retired, and started doing Santa gigs for private parties.

Now if we'd had rain and cooler temps, the day would have been perfect, but overall, on a scale of 1-10, I'd have to say it was a 9. I've used online shopping, but it doesn't satisfy my need to actually touch and feel and smell and push buttons... or to sing my way through shops among strangers.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Betsy has invited Mike and me to Christmas dinner with her and Richard. No matter how annoyed with my sister I may get sometimes, her cooking is hard to turn down. She inherited that "good cook gene" that, for the most part, bypassed me. Her meals would make Deedo smile.

In looking through old photos yesterday, I found this one of Christmas 1952. I was 6, the blond, she was 4, the brunette, but appears to be the same size as me. I loved dolls, so I'm smiling; she would have been happier with cap pistols or a BB gun. She's probably wondering why Santa brought her a doll when she didn't ask for one. She was quite a tomboy. Looks like Santa brought us new pajamas, too.

George asked for Christmas stories on his site and I couldn't come up with any. "Drawing blanks" is something I do a lot lately, probably has more to do with aging than anything else. I had that dream again about living in a huge mansion, but all of the rooms are locked except for the 2 rooms where I live. I'm walking through it, trying to open doors, but they're all locked. I remember that I'm the one who locked them, but I don't remember where I put the key. It leaves me feeling very sad.

After I awoke, I went on to imagine that I found the key, and one by one, I unlock the doors. I find incredible beauty in most of the rooms, a few are again locked, they need work, and I'm not ready to do the work. Watching HGTV last night probably inspired some of this.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Probably the sweetest and sanest moments I have with my husband are every morning when we pray and read the Bible and other devotional material. Mike says the Bible comes alive for him when I read it.

"The family that prays together, stays together," my father often said in his Sunday sermons. There was no "family altar" in our home, but we didn't eat until the blessing had been said, and when we were small children, he listened to bedtime prayers as he tucked us in for the night and gave us each a kiss.

I used to think it strange that the preacher's family didn't observe a time of family devotion. Daily individual Bible reading was required if we were to rate 100% on the offering envelopes turned in at Sunday School, along with attendance, punctuality, tithing, lesson read, and a couple of other items I can't recall. In this way, personal piety was scored on a weekly basis. Some of the teachers even awarded gold stars on a giant wall chart so the faithful were recognized for their faithfulness (a good way to encourage feelings of pride and spiritual superiority, rather than humility?).

After we learned to read, my sister and I took turns reading aloud the daily devotionals at bedtime while Daddy listened and helped with the hard-to-pronounce names. Each of us was a good reader, not like some of those other children in Sunday School who stuttered and stumbled and mispronounced and didn't pause at commas, and used a monotone from beginning to end. The coaching we got from teachers at school was reinforced by our father, who thought the Bible deserved all the drama and expression of a Shakespeare play. When the Sunday School teachers grew weary of having each child struggle through a verse from the weekly lesson's passage, they would often call on a good reader to do it all. I was frequently chosen for this honor.

So it is with a truck load of memories and emotional associations that I will give the Old Testament reading in St. Philip's Christmas Eve service. While the adult in me loves the message, the child in me will be there, too, enjoying the spotlight. God, help the adult in me to deliver this reading in a manner that honors the Prince of Peace, not "Little Miss Sunbeam."

The First Lesson: Isaiah 9:2-7

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness-- on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The weirdest thing happened at Target yesterday. I came back to my car after being in the store for over an hour, and found the doors unlocked and the motor running. There was no key in the ignition, it was in my hand. How could that possibly happen? I have no explanation, and neither does Mike. He was with me and witnessed this strange phenomenon. If he had not seen it firsthand, he would not have believed it, he admitted. I'm still scratching my head over that one.

I simplified my Christmas shopping by buying each adult on my list a new sweater or sweatshirt. The kids will have their stockings stuffed. Trying to figure out what to get everyone required more imagination than I could muster. If the gift is not the right size or a style they like, they can donate it to the nearest homeless shelter, and my feelings will not be hurt. I also bought some books while at St. Andrews Bookstore, which may become gifts, but may not be anything but gifts to myself. I really don't need to go shopping when I'm in a Scrooge frame of mind. My heart feels 3 sizes too small.

An article I read recently about Caregiver Burnout listed these symptoms:

Withdrawal from friends, family and other loved ones.
Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed.
Feeling blue, irritable, hopeless and helpless.
Changes in appetite, weight, or both.
Changes in sleep patterns.
Getting sick more often.
Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person for whom you are caring.
Emotional and physical exhaustion.

To be honest, I've got 5 of the 9, and that is with much praying and taking 100 mg of Zoloft every day. Thank goodness, Mike has quit drinking and is still attending AA. That gave me light at the end of this long, dark tunnel.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

In case you haven't already discovered this wonderful resource, use this link to access some of my favorite Christmas music; select from any of the options under Holiday Specials and let your soul be blessed. There's several hours worth of music there. Above the Holiday Specials under Music, St. Paul Sunday and Pipedreams both offer Christmas specials for 2006 and in their archives are Christmas specials from years past.

Happy 19th Anniversary to Ricky and Mary Ann! What a sweet, loving couple! One of my favorite mementos of their wedding is a poem that Mary Ann cross-stitched for her mother-in-law. It hangs next to their wedding picture in my dining room. Clay read it aloud when they were here and immediately understood the rich legacy of love into which he and his brother were born. Can there be any more important gift to give a child?

The poem says:

He fills my life with love and care/His special smile is always there/His gentle touch and tender heart/With strength of will shall never part/No other man can match his way/He brightens every single day/So much of him is part of you/I thank you for the man we view/We join our hearts as man and wife/Our love for you will last for life.

May God bless you with many more happy years together.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sunday was a peaceful day at our house. Mike skipped Sunday School and rode with me to church. We had lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant, and while I took a nap, he went to Timberlake to visit Ron. He's still retiring at 6:00 to watch TV in the bedroom, but it's a habit I can live with. "You always blamed the alcohol for my going to bed at 6," he said, "so what will you blame now?"

"Your mother, the drug addict," I replied, "since she isolated herself in her bedroom so much. Maybe you want to be like her." That stung. I could tell from the look on his face.

"I don't want to be like my mother," he said through clinched teeth. The idea that irrational behavior was the norm in his childhood home due to his mother's addiction to tranquilizers, and that he has continued that practice with his drinking seemed new to him, even though we've talked about it several times. Learning new ways to relate as a responsible adult is not something he's put much effort into.

It's a hard thing to overcome. I recognize the worst traits of my parents in myself all the time. It's the hand we were dealt, but we don't have to keep playing. At some point, we have to put those cards down and walk away from the table, learn a new game, new skills, new ways.

He's planning to go to the noon meeting of AA today. I hope he comes home with a 1 week chip to mark his progress. It's a small token, but it represents a week long struggle against very destructive forces. I hope he finds new friends and a sponsor who can help him. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Testing, testing, one, two, three... My resolve is being tested on a daily basis. Mr. Hyde challenges the boundaries I've set every day, trying to make deals, issuing ultimatums, cursing the reality of alcohol's appeal to him. Christmas parties, dinners, entertaining guests are all obstacles on this course to sober living. I will do anything to help the humble man who said, "I want to learn to live without it." That other man can take a long hike off a short pier. He is no longer welcome in the same house where I live. My "enough button" got pushed last Sunday and it hasn't been switched off.

He's missing the companionship of his friend Jon, but they have more going for them than the drinks they shared. Maybe he will learn to concentrate on that. He spent a couple hours with Ron yesterday without drinking anything. Ron has moved his camper to Timberlake, so he went over there. Ron got the wheelchair out of the trunk of Mike's car and pushed him around the whole campground, which took about an hour. Then they sat at the picnic table and "chewed the fat," he said, with neither of them drinking anything.

I finished a good bit of the housecleaning that needed doing. Part of me wants to start baking, but pies, cakes and cookies are to me what alcohol is to Mike. I need to stay completely away from it. I've maintained the weight loss, so far, and don't want to add any over the holidays. It's going to be a tough thing to do.

I don't want to get totally rigid about the eating and drinking problems we have around here, but I do want to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Simplify, simplify, simplify, that's the message I keep getting, from reading, praying, television talk show hosts, etc. And I thought we already lived a fairly simple life. I clipped an article from a Bellsouth newsletter years ago that speaks to this issue.

Finding a way to live the simple life is one of life's supreme complications.
It's difficult to live one day at a time when each day seems to spill over into the next. Then the week-end comes, it's as if several days attack us at once.

One reason for our inability to achieve simplicity is that we clutter our lives with far more things than we actually need. We succumb to the pressures to spend money we don't have, to buy things we don't need, to impress people we don't like. This means that much of our leisure time is spent taking care of things we really didn't want in the first place.

Another reason for our inability to achieve simplicity is that we've made activity our god. We're continuously on the go.

Years ago, if a person missed a train, he simply waited for the next one. Today we become irritated if we miss one section of a revolving door - and then we run up the escalator to make up for lost time.

It's interesting to note that even when we relax a bit and become spectators, we spend most of our time watching other people dash from one end of a playing field to the other, or speed at the Indy 500.

What we need to do is arrange our lives so that there's ample time to be still - to sit still, to observe, to reflect, to absorb, to enjoy, and to learn.
People who seek simplicity and peace learn to choose between what is urgent and what can wait; between what is of great value and what is of little consequence.

They learn the art of selective procrastination - putting off indefinitely what they never really needed to do at all.

Adapted from an article by Dr. Dale E. Turner

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The cardiologist agreed with me about the alcohol. When Mike told him about Sunday's episode, he said, "If that has happened more than once, you need to quit drinking." Mike had to admit it was not the first time. Thank you, Doc!

This is the same doctor who told him in '01, when he had his last open-heart surgery, that a couple of 5 oz. glasses of red wine every night would not hurt him. Mike was never satisfied with that limit. He wanted an 8 oz. glass filled to the brim, twice. When I poured it for him, I diluted it with water, but he got to where he was pouring it for himself before I went downstairs to fix supper. If he suspected that my drinks were watered down, he never said anything.

He seemed to be accepting better the imposed limits after his appointment. He's still not sold on the idea of his need for AA. "They're too fanatical," he said, "they just swapped their addiction to alcohol for addiction to the program." That's his decision to make, but I did tell him that recovering alcoholics, who I've known, all say it's easier to kick the habit with a supportive group to encourage them and hold them accountable. The 12 steps start with admitting a powerlessness over alcohol, and he's not there yet, but he's moving in that direction.

There isn't much difference, in my experience, from a drunk and a dry drunk. Don white-knuckled his way to sobriety for 7 of the 10 years we were married, and retained a lot of the "stinking thinking" that goes along with drinking. My thinking wasn't too clear back then, either. I actually thought I could "Rescue the perishing," just like the hymn said, especially after he testified to the whole church, "Cathy was the angel who pulled me out of the gutter." Trouble is, this angel couldn't keep him out of the gutter, no matter how many times he sang "You Needed Me" to me.

I cried a tear, you wiped it dry
I was confused, you cleared my mind
I sold my soul, you bought it back for me
And held me up and gave me dignity
Somehow you needed me

You gave me strength to stand alone again
To face the world out on my own again
You put me high upon a pedestal
So high that I could almost see eternity
You needed me, you needed me

And I can't believe it's you
I can't believe it's true
I needed you and you were there
And I'll never leave, why should I leave
I'd be a fool
'Cause I finally found someone who really cares

You held my hand when it was cold
When I was lost you took me home
You gave me hope when I was at the end
And turned my lies back into truth again
You even called me "friend"

You gave me strength to stand alone again
To face the world out on my own again
You put me high upon a pedestal
So high that I could almost see eternity
You needed me, you needed me
You needed me, you needed me

If that's not a recipe for a very co-dependant relationship, I don't know what is.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The tree is decorated, and "the stockings were hung by the chimney with care..." That's as far as I got, about 10% of what needs to be done between now and the time guests arrive.

I used the red and gold theme again, it's my favorite. That old tree has had every color combination imaginable on it, from teal and mauve to all white to multi-colored to gold, silver, and white, and I keep coming back to the red and gold. The red I use is more burgundy except for the cardinals, which don't come in any color but Christmas red. The tree is a blue spruce silk tree that I bought at Sears back in '87, but I still like it. The box is falling apart, but the tree has aged well, so I continue to use it. (It's not really blue, but more of a teal green than garish green.) We used a live tree one year, and I vowed never again. I vacuumed pine needles from the carpet for a month.

The weather man reminded us last night that we actually had snow before Christmas in '97 (our first Christmas in this condo). Bonnie was 10 years old, we had decorated the tree the night before, and had no idea that snow was on its way. She was so excited the next morning when we told her. It's the closest we've ever come to a white Christmas. I made some good pictures that year, but none that captured the beauty of that rare occasion. By Christmas Day, it had all melted.

Then we had snow to the south of us in 2001, just a few days after Christmas. Ricky's family was here, and Benji, and we drove to Hattiesburg so Clay and Cooper could experience their first snow. They concluded that it wasn't nearly as much fun as sand, "too cold!", they told us between chattering teeth and tears, and they were ready to leave after about 5 minutes. Just chalk that one up as one of Gramma's hair-brained ideas. Ricky did get some funny video that will probably re-appear if he ever wants to embarrass his children, maybe at a wedding rehearsal dinner, or something.

Mike and I went to a Christmas party last night at the Methodist Rehab Quest clinic, a sort of reunion for all their therapists and patients. I hope it reminded him of how far he's come and how blessed he is to have recovered as much as he has.

He was in a bad mood most of the day and was beginning to try to make "deals with the devil." Giving up alcohol completely was sounding less and less appealing to him, going to AA might not be necessary, he said, "I can control my drinking," he insisted more than once. It's all part of the drying-out process that alcoholics go through before they hit bottom.

I thought Sunday was THE BOTTOM, but maybe not. He's planning to ask his cardiologist today about "safe drinking." "You can ask him whatever you want to, but if you want to continue living with me, there won't be any drinking, so be sure you factor that in to your conception of 'safe drinking,'" I told him.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The birthday gifts have overlapped the Christmas gifts. Any wonder I love this time of year? It definitely brings out the kid in me.

I still have not decorated our tree, but today I'm in the mood. Maybe it will get done. And I have to finish Christmas shopping. I was waiting for a cool rainy day, my favorite Christmas shopping weather, but when we had that on Monday, it was one of those "morning after the night before" days and I was too tired. It's a good thing our Christmas doesn't really start until the 24th. I've never waited until Christmas Eve to decorate the tree, but some people do. It would put us more in synch with the 12 days that run until Epiphany.

Advent is not something I was accustomed to celebrating until I became an Episcopalian, but I like it. The four weeks preceding Christmas are focused on inward preparation for the arrival of the Christ Child, not the frantic search for one more trinket to add to our ever-enlarging collection of frivolous trinkets.

The adult in me deplores the excess and greed represented in American consumerism, and would gladly swap the gift giving among family and friends for giving to others who need it a lot worse than any of us do. The kid in me recoils at the mere suggestion, though, so I indulge her and the kids who seem to control us all during this season. But is this really honoring the Christ Child? I struggle with this every year.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It is currently 52* and very foggy where I live. Gus and Jay-Jay went out and came right back in. Did the fog spook them? Something did, or maybe they just weren't ready to face the day.

Mike has been letting me sleep until I awaken on my own, which I appreciate. It helps the mood I'm in considerably not to be begged and nagged out of bed, and it represents a big concession on his part. He's making an effort to be more considerate. Yesterday, he gave me a new camphone for Christmas. I haven't figured it out yet, but will before the day is over, the camera part anyway. Benji has made some amazing pictures with his, so I'm expecting to have fun with it.

The reason I got the gift early is because his phone had to be replaced. (I think it got damaged somehow on Sunday.) "You're breaking up, Buddy," everybody told him, which annoyed him, but I thought it was a great metaphor for the transition he's in. "Nobody can hear me," he complained.

Either he's going to have to make new friends, or his old friends are going to have to curb their drinking around him. It will be interesting to watch how it all unfolds. More than one of them have mentioned a concern about their own habits. Maybe he will have some good influence on them. God still works in mysterious ways.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I went to the 6:30 Al-Anon meeting last night and Mike went to the 8:00 AA meeting. I liked the group I was in and felt welcomed and cared for from the start. The openness and honesty that exists in these groups encourage a sort of immediate intimacy among members not found in other groups. I probably should have been going long before now. It's been 14 years since I attended any 12-step group, and, after listening to the others share their "experience and hope," I soon recognized the foolishness of my choice to go it alone with most of my problems with Mike.

Bringing the focus back to my own unhealthy behavior, getting a sponsor, working the steps, all require that I set aside the willful independence and pride that drive me, and allow others who have been down this road to help me. That is very hard for me to do. With God's help, and the help of each other, we move to a much better place, emotionally and spiritually, than we've been.

Mike hasn't had a drink since Sunday. Yesterday was calm and peaceful in our house. "I am truly sorry and I humbly repent," he told me, borrowing a line from our Prayer of Confession that we use in our church's liturgy. He was sincere, I believe. He's decided to concentrate on encouraging the Dr. Jekyll side of himself and discouraging the Mr. Hyde part, actually it's more like the Nutty Professor/Buddy Love conflict, but it all boils down to the old tug of war between good and evil, moral and immoral, doesn't it? It won't be easy, but for now, he's committed.

So am I.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I'm happy to report that Mikey is officially "on the wagon." I laid down the law to him this morning when it became clear that we had survived the night without killing one another. It was 2:00 before he went to sleep and that was after two more falls in the floor. I think he finally wore himself out, because I made him struggle each time for a half hour or so to get himself off the floor. He made it to the bathroom and was able to do what he couldn't do with the urinal. Relieving the full bladder discomfort seemed to help more than anything.

He insisted on taking his meds on top of all that alcohol. That sounded very dangerous to me, but I dispensed them, then braced myself for the worst case scenario. I recorded most of our verbal exchanges just in case I had to explain anything to authorities.

In the light of day, he was full of regrets. He seemed relieved when I told him there would be no more drinking, or no more Cathy. One of us had to go. Too many people have tried to help him recover and keep him healthy for him to cancel out all that effort with his dependence on alcohol. He agreed. When he boasted to Ron that he was "on the wagon," I knew I was getting through to him.

He's gone to the gym. It will be interesting to hear how difficult his workout is with a hangover. He's considering joining the AA group at St. Philip's. Whether he does or not, I'm going to Al-Anon.
It's 10:30 on Sunday night, and I'm still up and faced with a dilemma. Mike went to Jon's this afternoon and got drunk, had to be brought home and carried upstairs by Jon and Greenhill. They physically hauled him out of Jon's house into Greenhill's SUV, then into our house and dumped him in the bed like the dead weight he was. He wasn't passed out, but he couldn't stand up or walk, and he tried to resist their help, saying he had to pee.

Before they left, he tried to get out of bed and go to the bathroom, but fell in the floor. Again they lifted him back into bed. Jon threatened to whip his ass if he didn't stay in the bed.

After they left, I gave him the urinal and told him to use it, but not to get out of the bed. He kept trying to get up. I wrapped the cover around his feet so he couldn't put them on the floor. With flailing arms and legs, he kicked me in the face with his right foot, and landed a couple of punches on my right arm and right leg, but I finally got them wrapped. I tucked a folded hand towel inside his underwear in case his bladder started draining. Everything I said or did angered him, so he cursed me and threatened to beat me several times.

After a couple of hours of trying to keep him in the bed (he still had not peed, but kept saying he had to), I left to get some water to drink. While I was downstairs, I heard him hit the floor. He cursed and beat the floor and the wall with his fist. I called Art. Together, the two of us got him back in the bed. For about 30 minutes he slept. He's up again trying to urinate, but can't. At least he's trying to use the urinal this time. It's 11:00.

He took a fifth of whiskey and a 12 pack of beer with him to Jon's. I told him that it was not shaping up to be a healthy afternoon with that kind of alcohol available. He said he would drink 2 beers and stop with that. He planned to attend our Lessons and Carols service at church at 5:30, he said. The whiskey was supposedly a Christmas present for Jon and Trish.

Trish called while we were rehearsing, saying that Jon would drive Mikey home and she would follow them. He was in no shape to drive or attend church, she said. After church, I had another message from her saying they could not get him on his feet and had called Greenhill to come help. I offered to get a couple of the guys at church to come help carry him. Jon and Greenhill said they could do it without any more help.

Should I call 911? Get an ambulance to carry him to the hospital? If he's violent and irrational, he's a danger to himself and others. The hospital may be the best place for him. Unless his doctors tell him that he has to stop drinking, he's going to keep on with this self-destructive behavior. Stroke patients cannot drink like he's been drinking and not suffer serious consequences. If he falls in the floor one more time, I'm calling an ambulance.

After they got him to the house, Trish told me that he had drunk most of the whiskey. It's 11:40 and he's begging again for his quad-cane so he can walk to the bathroom. It's going to be a long night.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Today I'm listening to Jack McDuff play his legendary Hammond B-3. He's one of my favorite organists. My most favorite organist is our choirmaster at St. Philip's. David is 49 today and I hope he has a very Happy Birthday! (Wonder if he's ever played a B-3?)

It was on this date in 2003 that we adopted Gus. We became fast friends when I shared some baked chicken with him. He promptly made it very clear that he preferred to live in this house, not be left to fend for himself as he had been. He had a bad case of worms and fleas, but the vet got that cleared up, gave him the shots he needed, and then declared him healthy. He's been happy to be Gus Garrett ever since.

In checking phone messages yesterday, which I rarely do, I had a surprising birthday wish from Jean Jutman. She called to wish me a happy birthday. When I looked back at the Caller ID, I realized that the Unknown Caller must have been her. I never answer those, and in this case, I wish I had. It's been years since I talked to her. She turned 60 the day after me. Here's a picture of us celebrating my 6th birthday. She's the one on the left closest to the camera. Sitting behind her are Betsy, then Barbara Caldwell. Our first grade teacher Miss Dixie is sitting at the head of the table. On the right side from front to back are Georgia McWhorter, me, and Carole McFarling. Feel free to lift this for your site, George.

I've got a Christmas tree to decorate today, sure wish I had Clay and Cooper here to help me. I always miss them terribly when they leave. Ricky is the tree decorator at their house because he's such a perfectionist about it. They always have a perfectly balanced and beautiful tree, though.

Friday, December 08, 2006

I've always loved Christmas music. It's usually playing somewhere in my house between Dec. 1 and Jan. 6. has a new channel that is playing a great mix of pop and classical Yuletide tunes that, so far, have not bored me. is the link, and it's free.

We had a couple of surprise visitors last night - Tony and Greenhill were out spreading their brand of Christmas cheer. I get more than I want of the rude, crude language from the other resident of this house, so after about 10 minutes, I left Mike by himself to entertain them. I'm certainly not going to subject myself to a triple dose of it and smile politely through the whole ordeal. Even he was glad to see them go. I think they'd been out drinking, I just hope they made it home safely. I wish he would remember how tiresome that juvenile behavior is before he launches into one of his boorish diatribes. I'm afraid any lesson was lost in the fog of intoxication.

I locked Gus and Jay-Jay upstairs before our visitors arrived. Both men like to tease and taunt Gus and both have received attacks to the crotch from him. When they started suggesting that Gus be tied to the back of the car and pulled at 90 mph down the interstate, I made my exit rather than tell them what I really thought. I was not amused.

Of course, I've been known to launch diatribes of my own. Any reader of this blog can attest to that, but no one has to read it unless they choose to. Clicking off is very easy and it doesn't even hurt my feelings. This is where my pet peeves get aired and it helps me to express them, so if anyone is offended by what I'm saying or how I'm saying it, pleeease, go read something else. I created this place in cyberspace primarily for me. Venting gets done a lot here, so don't hang around if the air gets too blue for you.

On a happier note, here's one of Benji's camphone pictures of Pip that I thought was classically beautiful. It was made before he got a haircut on Tuesday.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I'm fasting for the 8:30 doctor appointment. Rather than stay downstairs watching Mike eat breakfast, I retreated to my office. The dogs are puzzled by the disruption in our routine, especially the part when I share my food with them. This is supposed to be a GMAB (give me a break) day, but I'm not feeling the need for it this morning like I was yesterday.

12:00 Noon. The doc's scales showed a 16 lb weight loss and my BP was 125/70. He was really proud of me; I was, too. When he asked how I did it, I told him it was the PODO diet, Power of Doctor's Orders, which he thought was the best joke he's heard in a while. He was glad to see that I still have my sense of humor, he said, even tho that ole cuss I live with is driving me crazy.

He plans to talk to Mike about the emotional outbursts the next time he comes in because there are meds that can help that. Taking regular breaks from the hostility that sometimes permeates our atmosphere is a good coping mechanism, also support groups, he advised. Joint counseling with Dr. Irby would also be good, he suggested. A professional should be monitoring the mood swings, especially if alcohol is involved. It's not healthy for him to drink as much as he's been drinking lately.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Temps are supposed to be warm enough this afternoon that I can finish cleaning the deck and maybe do some decorating. Ricky and I got the hot tub cleaned and covered Saturday and that improved the overall appearance considerably. Thursday and Friday are supposed to be cold again with night temps down in the 20's. Thank goodness, I finally got most of the cold drafts in my office covered.

Benji has posted some really cute pictures of Bella, Phin and Pip. 10 year old Bella has glasses now, which are blue and match her beautiful eyes. Phin comes as close to smiling for the camera as he ever gets. He and I share the Nov. 30 birthday; he turned 8 last week. Then Pip has an expression not yet captured in any of the photos I've seen. Be sure to check out the profile shot of Pip. Benji made that with his camphone right before Pip got his hair cut. It's a beautiful picture.

The music I'm listening to this morning is Elisabeth von Trapp's Love Never Ends CD. Her website is
David loaned it to me before we made our Thanksgiving trip and I love it. I have played it every day since I got it and not tired of it yet. It's downloaded on my computer and I plan to burn my own CD from it, which will be a new experience for me. Mike says it's simple to do, and if he thinks it's simple, it really is. He has no patience for most computer-related tasks.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I've got a classical guitar version of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring playing, and now it's a jazz piano doing I'll Be Home for Christmas. I'm more in a mood to decorate for Christmas than to blog. But there are a couple of thoughts I wanted to record before they're forgotten.

First, is the issue of dealing with Mike's bad moods and temper tantrums. For those of you who have expressed concern, I want you to know that I'm OK, and I really appreciate your concern. It's only when I'm very tired or very stressed that I have difficulty with them. Keeping our routine simple and taking naps help me. Mike usually regrets his rudeness and lack of control after it's over, and much of it is due to the IEED (Involuntary Emotional Expression Disorder) that came with the stroke. Therefore, most of the time, I don't take his outbursts personally. I put distance between him and me and let him blow off steam. He soon cools down and apologizes.

He scared Clay and Cooper on Saturday morning, so I did what I had to do to protect them. On Sunday he apologized to them. It's the old Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde dilemma I grew up with. The pendulum swings to the other end of his emotional range with amazing regularity. At 9:30 he sounded like a real jerk, but by 10:00 he was weeping to the words of Hall and Oates' I'll Do It for Love.

I would fly ten thousand miles
In the pouring rain
Just to see your face
I'd bare my soul to a total stranger
Just to say your name
And I'm not ashamed
Just to love you into every morning
I would change my name
And run away

I won't do it for money
I won't do it for pride
I won't do it to please somebody else

If it don't feel right
But I'll do it for you
And at least I'll try
I don't need any other reason
Than I feel it deep inside
I'll Do It For Love

I would write your name across the sky
So the world could see
What you mean to me
I'd sing songs at the top of my voice
In an empty room
Just to dance with you
And to love you into every morning
I'll leave the world behind
And I'll slow down time

I won't do it for money
I won't do it for pride
I won't do it to please somebody else
If it don't feel right
But I'll do it for you
And at least I'll try
I don't need any other reason
Than I feel it deep inside
I'll Do It For Love

What I do for love can take us anywhere at all.

The other thing is that I need your prayers and emotional support. I have come awfully close to doing bodily harm to the poor man when I'm tired and stressed and just don't feel like I can take any more of his foul mouth and bad humor. When we were in Illinois, I threatened to beat him with his own cane if he didn't STFU!

Traveling to strange places and trying to find something in the dark make him very anxious. He got belligerant and started browbeating me while I was looking for our motel. By the time we arrived at our destination, I told him he could spend the night in the car, or get another room, but I didn't want to see or hear any more from him until the next morning, and if he followed me and harrassed me, I would beat him black and blue. It's the closest I've come to criminal behavior. It scared him and me.

Fortunately, my blowing off steam relieved a lot of the pressure I felt. Within about 5 minutes, we were relating to one another in civil terms. We shared the room and I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I was exhausted, having used every ounce of restraint I could muster not to commit murder and mayhem. And I didn't have to spend Thanksgiving in jail.

Being trapped in the car and not able to put distance between him and me when he goes into a tirade is not something I want to repeat. After that experience in IL, I promised myself it was the last trip I will make with him. He never was a good traveling companion even before the stroke, and now it's worse.

I appreciate the invitations to visit, but I'll be better off in the long run, just hanging around here and keeping things as simple as possible. I hope you all understand. Sending your love and prayers in this direction help me more than anything. I've come to see those hits to this blog as friendly folk checking in to make sure I'm ok. They mean a lot to me. Thank you.

More classical guitar with Ave Maria... Whose spirit would not be calmed and comforted with that?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Something has knocked this blog out of alignment, the sidebar has dropped below the last post on the page, not sure if or how it can be fixed. Oh well, I've got more important problems to solve.

The most pressing problem I have at the moment is how to stay warm in this drafty office. Putting the portable heater under my desk helped, but I still feel cold air coming from somewhere, I think it's coming thru that air conditioner in the window. Putting the thermal curtain back down across it should help...

OK, that was definitely needed, the drape is puffed with cold air blowing in. Maybe it needs one of those outside covers over its backside. Surely, I won't need it again until at least March. And the best handyman I've had in a long time has gone back to Tampa. Foot! I'll figure out something.

Our household has settled back into its regular routine. Gus and Jay-Jay are catching up on their sleep, and I plan to take a nap this afternoon. Mike has gone to the gym and plans to eat lunch out. I've still got a couple of extra pounds to lose by Thursday, so I declined his invitation.

I changed out my monitor's background photo, which had been of Benji and Pip since I got back from Ireland. The new one is of Cooper on the 4-wheeler and Clay jogging beside him. When I got the large version of that picture up, I was struck by Clay's likeness to my daddy again. I saw it in a summer picture, but it's back in this one, too. It's the same one I posted on yesterday's blog. Click on the picture and get the enlarged version. You'll see some Silas, too.

Ricky's picture of the barefoot bride has received more hits on my Flickr site than any of the other shots. It is a cute picture. Deanne must have inherited that dancing gene that Skip and I have. I always knew she loved to dance, but watching her have so much fun Saturday night really warmed my heart. I hope Kris can keep up with her on the dance floor. None of my husbands could keep up with me and it was a major disappointment. She chose "I'll Have a Blue Christmas Without You" for the father-daughter dance. Paul looked real relieved when it was over.

Nowadays, women just get up and dance, with or without a partner, it doesn't matter. I like that better than hanging back and waiting on a reluctant husband or an overly-eager stranger.

George Bernard Shaw said, "Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire." There's probably some truth in that statement.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The birthday came and went and fun was had by all. By this morning, all that fun had caught up with me, so I celebrated the Sabbath as the "Day of Rest" it was intended to be. These past few days have been a whirlwind of activity and it was time I slowed down, waaaaaaaaaay down! Ricky downloaded his and Mary Ann's pictures to my computer, so most of my time today was spent editing and sorting and posting to Flickr.

They arrived Thursday night around 10 and I sat up with them until midnight visiting. Mike was awake at his usual early time on Friday, so I only got about 5 hours of sleep. With Maggie and Tucker chasing Gus and Jay-Jay, the morning started off at a much faster pace than I like. We hung around the house all day, playing Scrabble, Yahtzee, watching TV and visiting. They wanted to take me out for dinner, but I didn't want to go. I still haven't met the weight loss goal, so I tried not to eat much. Ricky worked most of the day while Clay finished the research paper that was past due.

On Saturday, they went to Vance's house so the boys could ride his 4-wheeler, and they could make pictures of their lot while there is still some fall color on the trees. In the afternoon, Ricky and I worked on my Honey-Do list and got several chores done. By 4:30 we were all dressed for the wedding and piled into their van for the drive out to Luckett Lodge.

The small chapel couldn't have been a more perfect setting for a December wedding. It's rustic charm set the tone for one of the most romantic candlelight ceremonies I've ever seen. The Methodist minister was from the groom's home church in Glen Allen. I thanked him afterwards for not preaching a sermon. Music was provided by two guitars and a vocalist, very simple, very pretty. No microphones, no power point, nothing pre-recorded, it was refreshing.

Deanne was radiant. Even Paul and Vance looked dignified in tuxedos. Judy was bubbling with happy excitement. Her sister Janet came and was an honored guest. She is so frail from all the chemo, and I thought she was very brave to risk exposure to so many people's germs.

The reception was wonderful, my compliments to Deanne and Judy, who planned all of it, Paul said. The band did a good mix of country and rock music; Santa Fe is the name of the group. I don't think they're local, Mike didn't recognize any of them. I danced for almost 2 hours, just couldn't sit down. Maybe I burned off the two pieces of wedding cake I ate.
A party, a celebration will put an exclamation point on our life. Rather than frenetically planning the perfect holiday, we might do well to let the party unfold as it will, being content merely to gaze into the kaleidoscope to see fresh new patterns. We might be surprised to find that what had seemed onerous, overtaxing, even unpleasant, becomes a robust festivity that lets us forget the details of life and revel in the feasting and fellowship that bring new energy and relieves the regularity of our routines. from
More pictures of my "Celebrating Sixty" can be viewed by following the My Pictures link, then clicking on the set. I don't remember ever enjoying a birthday so much. Extended over several days, I partied everywhere I went, got to see most of my favorite people, and do most of my favorite things. I'll take that over a single evening's party anyday!