Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Still in Love with the Patio

The weekend absolutely flew by as I worked pretty much nonstop in the backyard - getting all the projects completed that I have put off for the past couple of years.

I just found this picture in my photo archives - it was taken in the Autumn of 2004 and shows how the side garden and the path looked prior to installing the retaining wall and patio.

I am preparing for a really fun party for my birthday in June - friends coming in from different parts of the country and a very special dinner to celebrate my 60th year. It will be fun to have an evening to wine and dine, in my backyard, with the women who mean the most to me ---- but more about that later.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Memorial Day - In Rememberance

Tom was extremely proud of his military service. Remembering him tonight and all those who have served.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Making a Dream Real

The Project

In 2000, Tom and I designed a stone patio for our backyard - it was to replace a gravel and stepping stone path that sat between the large and the small side flower gardens. Then - POW - on July 11, 2000 - Tom had his first stroke and the patio project went POOF. We had a year of intense recovery for Tom to be able to talk, drive and resume a new normal in life.

Over the years, we often talked about renewing the patio project. However, real life always intruded - taking care of Tom's aging Mom (who died 5 months before Tom at nearly 95) - a second stroke, the end of my Executive Director job and the beginning of my consulting practice, 3 eye surgeries for Tom ---- and then there are all the things that just happen everyday. But we never forgot that the patio was a dream to be realized, "one of these days."

The patio was finished on Thursday - May 25 - I love it and I know that my angel is happy too. I wish you all come sit with me and share a cold drink, a munchie and some good conversation on my patio. Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Namaste.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

More Remembering

I drove through downtown St. Paul this afternoon with tears running down my face. It has been sooooo long since I have wept in the car.

I took this picture at the end of this winter, high on the bluff in Indian Mounds Park overlooking St. Paul and the Mighty Mississippi. Today, the same scene is incredibly green.

St. Paul is full of memories. The tall building in the middle with the "little spire" is the First National Bank Building and that spike is actually a big red numeral ONE that is lighted at night. That is the building in which Tom worked for the last 15 years of his career as an attorney.

The high rise building, just in front of the First Bank Building and towards the River, is Kellogg Square - the place where Tom and I met.
The First National Bank Building and Kellogg Square are connected by a skyway over Fourth Street.

I rented an apartment on the seventeenth floor; a one-year lease to consider my options after having just sold my suburban home. Tom had lived in the townhouses, at Kellogg, for several years following the end of his 30-year marriage. He loved to joke about his "commute" to work.

Each summer, Kellogg Square sponsored a Party for residents. It was held on the mid-roof deck near the tennis courts - live music, open bar, and food in the party room. After I moved into my apartment, everytime I saw the leasing agent (she was like a cruise director) she asked if I was going to come to, "the deck party!" Finally, out of self defense, I paid my $20 - I had no intention of going.

The night of the deck party, I came home, changed my clothes, fed the cat, poured a glass of wine and prepared to hand-sign 1,000 fundraising letters - I was an Executive Director of a nonprofit at that time. Of course, being on the tennis court side of the building - I could hear the live music. Finally, I kicked my own butt - "what are you an old maid with your cat and single glass of wine?" "Go meet some of your new neighbors." So, I put on my running shoes and took the elevator downstairs.

When I got to the deck, I went to the nearest bar to get a wine. Suddenly, I heard, "Yooo - Whoooo - Suzann, Suzann" - it was the Cruise Director and she was sitting at a huge table right behind me. "Come and sit right here," she said, patting the empty chair next to her. "OK everyone, this is Suzann - she is new in 1735 - introduce yourselves!" There must have been twenty people around the table.

"Hi, I'm Ken." "I'm Rose in 1352." And round and round we went. When we got to the person sitting next to me on my left - "Hi, I'm Tom Murray and I live in the townhouses."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


I have been reading a widow friend's recounting of the last week of her husband's life - a very moving recollection that she is privately sharing with family, friends and a few widow buddies. I weep as I read each day's installment. She has small children and part of writing this is to preserve the story, the feelings for her sons as they grow up. My heart flies across the miles each day - to her, to her children.

Reading her daily posts thrusts me back in time to our own last week together - the innocence of our last day together, coming home to find him on the floor, the last 4 days by his side, the aftermath of life's sudden destruction. My heart aches for Tom - my heart reaches out to my friend - grief knows no bounds - there is no "getting over it" - the love we shared can never be extinguished. Death ends a life not a relationship.

Monday, May 22, 2006


Tom - my darling - missing you tonight - wishing I could curl up in your arms and sleep peacefully after some of those excellent, hot kisses. With Longing - Your Girl.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A Joyful Non Smoker

Just so you all know - it might have been a stressful trip but I did not use tobacco nor am I going to = I remain a joyful nonsmoker - FREE AT LAST. My current stats as of 8:40 pm today:

27 days, 23 hours, 8 minutes and 43 seconds smoke free.

419 cigarettes not smoked.

$94.50 and 3 days, 4 hours of my life saved.

My quit date: 4/23/2006 9:35:00 PM

Gained one pound while away but after all it was a vacation in the wine country with some of the greatest restaurants on the planet. Will take that off in short order. :-)


This hot air balloon was floating over Mother's house this morning. I took this picture standing in the driveway early this morning - barefoot - the whoosing of the gas powered flame, the floating uncertainty of the sphere - so close to the house. I am home - the rest of the story will unfold.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Words of Experience and Wisdom

A most thoughtful and profound comment about my last post from wonderful Lucy my friend who blogs at Lucy's Golden Spiral Journal.

"This is such a heartbreaking situation. I went through the same thing with my mother and I can see Carole is going to have to do it with me. It's just a matter of time---some of us have a bit more with our facilities intact. But it is inevitable unless we mercifully suddenly drop dead in the middle of sex or a golf game.

Believe me, I'm not trying to make light of the situation. I hate and fear it as much as anybody. However, the cycle---including decline and denial is inevitable for most of us---parents and children alike.

I think the only thing to remember is that far from being alone, you are part of an eternal cosmic continuum that allows all of us to grow---or not.

Curiously enough I had a heated discussion yesterday on this very subject with Carole. After seeing 2 confused, blind and twisted old men I said that I wanted to be "put to sleep" when I reached that point. I still feel that way. However, Carole said every person has a job to do as long as they live on earth. The job for the terminally afflicted young or old, she says is to provide the opportunty for others to give and to learn acceptance.

I'm not sure about that. However, it's something to think about. My point to you in the situation is that as unfair as it may seem it appears the Creator is giving you an opportunity. You can't change your mother or her ultimate decline but you can give up the illusion of having control and being a victim of the inevitable....or you can remind yourself once again and all too soon it's just another chance to choose life and growth. And to remember you are not alone."
all my love and prayers,

Thank you Lucy for the loving reminder that none of us are in control - and it is another growth opportunity, whether we want it or not. Thanks too for all the other loving and thoughtful comments. Taking another step on the journey - not alone - surrounded by love, care, and kindred spirits.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Heart Breaking

Here I am in California - beautiful wine country - summer. This is a very trying time. My mother is nearly 80. She can see, but is legally blind. She lives by herself in a home she and my Dad put together 25 years ago as their retirement home. The house is two-stories and I fear she will fall again and hurt herself badly next time. Watching her descend the stairs is painful.

She is fighting her aging with tooth and nail and is in denial so deep that she is not living in reality. She has told everyone she is 68 and that I am 48 - I am 59. Her exact words, "I don't care how old you are - in Yountville you are 48! Don't forget it." My oldest son is 41 - she doesn't talk about him to her friends. Some of her friends dropped by the the other day and she hadn't even mentioned that my husband died.

She certainly is energetic for her age - she has kept herself in good shape. She looks great for her age - but she does not look 68. I do not believe most folks think she is 68 either. Most importantly, she needs help. She needs to be thinkng about independent living but won't even discuss it. If I bring something up that she doesn't like she will begin screaming, "you just think I am senile - that's right I'm crazy." She runs away yelling. Later she will come and put her arms around me and say how much she loves me and how glad she is that I am here.

I am beside myself. I am filled with sorrow. I do not know what to do.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

California Here I Come

I am leaving in the morning for Yountville, California - my aging Mother needs my presence, love, support and assistance. While away, I will not have consistent internet access and that is driving me insane. I will miss checking in everyday to see what you all are up to and I will miss writing here.

I will return to Minnesota the evening of May 20th. I will take lots of pictures of that beautiful place and share this next phase of the journey whenever I can find a little corner of wireless access.

Be well and be good to yourselves. Peace.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


I have a sign posted on my bathroom mirror:

I am a Joyful Non Smoker -Free At Last

Thank you to everyone for your amazing support of my Quit - it is going well and I can honestly say that I am done - there are still lots of little triggers during the day - but nothing earth shattering. I am just delighted to be free of that nasty habit.
I have kept at my exercise, am making healthy food choices and have not gained a single pound. I feel so much better - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. All part of the plan on this journey - but a huge step.

So here it is:

15 days, 8 hours, 21 minutes and 15 seconds smoke free.

230 cigarettes not smoked.

$54.00 and 1 day, 18 hours of my life saved.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Round and Round It Goes

For some reason I have been having serial sadness today. I was out running errands and everywhere I looked - my memories strangled me - that hasn't happened for awhile now. It was very disconcerting. It will be eighteen months next Sunday - seems like years - seems like a dream. It is very real - the profound journey of loss, pain, turmoil, transformation and healing.

I am healing. I am making meaning of the journey - quitting smoking is a part of that meaning - I am different and yet the same. I am stronger yet more fragile. I am harder yet more resilient. I am more open yet have more clearly defined boundaries. I have the courage to reach out for help when I need it - and I have the deep need to support others in their life's journey. Even with today's tears, I see a world of joy and possibilities.

I remain a work in progress -

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Update - 10:43 pm

11 days, 2 hours, 9 minutes and 35 seconds smoke free.

166 cigarettes not smoked.

$37.12 and 1 day, 6 hours of my life saved.

My quit date: 4/23/2006

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Says It All Today

“I have been in Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and a sword in my hands.”

Zora Neale Hurston

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Naming IT

Nine days of being a nonsmoker and I am feeling good. Oh yeah, there are some really annoying and irritating body/mind things going at times - that is the price I must pay to free myself.

Weird how we fool ourselves - the cigarette pack says, "smoking can be hazardous to your health." "I know that," we say dismissively as we light another cancer stick. I have come to the deep understanding that smoking is nicotine addiction and I am in the process of ending that addiction and reclaiming my life. "Smoking may be hazardous to your health" is one of those masterpieces of understatement.

When Tom died, I had quit smoking and took it up again because of the "stress". Well, now I know in the deepest parts of me that smoking doesn't mitigate stress, it causes more of it.

A cigarette is an inanimate object - a little tube of white paper with some dried weeds (and lots of poisonous chemicals) wrapped inside. The addictive drug nicotine is the reason we crave more and more cigarettes - it drives us to repeatedly inhale carbon monoxide into our lungs. When was the last time anyone had a burning desire to go into the garage and put their lips around the exhaust pipe? Acknowledging addiction changes everything - getting out of denial and living here in the real world - I will not smoke again, ever, no matter what happens.

My mantra - a cigarette doesn't solve any problem or stressful situation. I feel so fortunate to be here this morning and to be able to take this healing journey. Quitting is another step on the journey to a new life.