Another letter to my ex-husband.

Sometimes an idea for a post pops into my head. If the notion pays the rent and takes up residence, I feel compelled to write it out.photo-43

I have noticed for months that there is one post I wrote early in my blogging days which continues to get attention. It’s called “A letter to my ex-husband.” and it consistently receives 50-60 clicks a week. I think this is telling me that there are new “victims” every day who seek comfort and company on the internet. Hopefully, they are seeking to lose that feeling of being the victim. What I know is that most are in a great deal of emotional distress.

Then I start to wonder, “Should I revisit that post? Should I write an update?” I seldom return to old posts. It’s rather like a sixteen-year-old backtracking to read what she wrote in her diary as a twelve-year-old — naïve and poorly written.

Dear D,

I have just read and re-read the open letter I wrote to you back in November, 2010. I stand by what I wrote. If I were composing the same letter today I might not use the Pearl Harbor metaphor but I’m not sorry I used it then. That’s how I felt at the time. I hope my writing is somewhat improved since those days.

I’m happy to say that I no longer dwell on the difficulties of that period in our history. My life moves along with more happy times than not as I try to focus on those most important in my life — my family. I must admit, though, that I still miss your family. At the time, I felt as if I had suffered multiple amputations but those wounds have mostly healed.

I have come to realize the we have a history — you, your family and I. And I know now that it’s mine to keep. No one, no divorce, no would-be interloper can ever take that away from me. I’m free to remember the happy times, and sad, as I choose. I even have a couple of pictures of you on display in my house. There’s one of you and two cute little granddaughters, all of you wearing identical Harley Davidson t-shirts. There’s the one of you and me and H when she was baptized  in your grandmother’s christening gown. When someone who doesn’t know you sees the latter and asks me if that’s my ex, I always say, “Yes, it is. Wasn’t he a handsome fellow.”

As I was reading the old letter and starting to write this post, I remembered the disconcerting dizziness of feeling as if I were on a merry-go-round back when I first heard the infamous divorce announcement. My mind would get in a loop and I had a hard time escaping the negative and unhelpful self-conversations. I even dreamed about carousels and their eerie, hypnotic music. I would feel it slowing and think it was slow enough to step off. But, alas, I would stumble and fall in a teary puddle every time.

My son-in-law recently told me about going to a colleague’s office to discuss a work-related matter. Instead of addressing the issue at hand, she looked at him and stated, “My husband is having an affair.” He asked me why she had said that to him. They weren’t buddies or anything so why would she do that? My immediate response was, “That’s all she could think about.” In other words, she was on the merry-go-round. It takes a while to get off. I had to ask the same “What did I do wrong?” question over and over before I finally let it go as unanswerable.

You’d think one carnival ride would be metaphor enough for one in the throes of despair. Not for me. I went straight from the carousel to a giant roller coaster. And sometimes the two merged into a monstrous nightmare.photo-73 This new ride came along when I stopped asking hypothetical questions and started to figure out what I must do to take care of me. I allowed my anger at you and at my situation to spring into action.

Anger can be a wonderful resource and motivator. It enabled me to start taking care of important divorce-related issues. Things like feeding myself properly, getting enough sleep and starting to raise my consciousness about financial matters and finding the right attorney to help me with my decision-making.

During this period the roller coaster started going up fairly often and I would feel pretty good. Fear would strike and I would crash back down. In between there were loop-de-loops when I was upside down and inside out and didn’t know what I was doing. One wise person named John told me, “Some things just take time.” He was right. As I found my sense of humor again and enabled my positive attitude, I came through and am better for it. I truly hope you are too.

Life is good as I remember our happy times together.

Fondly, Pat

 

 

I (heart) San Francisco.

I have nine grandchildren. Anyone who reads my blog or has ever met me knows this fact about me.photo-61 Being a grandmother is my best job yet. As each grandchild graduates from high school, I try to take him/her on a trip. Last year I took grandchild #3 to San Francisco. (I wrote about it here.) This year grandchild #4 requested the same trip. I think, initially, the attraction of the City by the Bay is its frequent presence in television programs and movies. I’m happy to report, though, that there is a great deal more depth than that in today’s youth and once they find themselves in the city, they are as captivated as I am by the history, the art, the people, et al.

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Flowers, flowers
everywhere, we should have worn some in our hair.

 

Chinatown is a must. We went there twice. The colors, the smells, the lanterns, the people. photo-44 photo-45Wonderful.

 

 

 

 

Some people told us not to miss Pier 39, others told us it was nothing but an amusement park. I disagree with the latter. It’s much more than that.photo-52 One of my granddaughter’s favorite things there was observing the sea lions from above.photo-62 There was one grumpy old fellow (or gal) who defended his territory with a vengeance. Fascinating to watch.

The only thing Iphoto-43 saw that gave the pier an amusement park feel was the carousel. We didn’t ride it but it has some imaginative and interesting animals for those who are so inclined.

photo-46I don’t know why I’m fascinated by the piano-playing stairway, but I am.photo-60 On the left is a photo of granddaughter #3 playing us a lively tune. On the right is this year’s traveler doing the same.

There’s a wonderful produce kiosk on the pier. Fresh fruits and vegetables galore.photo-59  photo-58Ranier cherries and freshly picked strawberries. Does life get any better? Yum!

Almost everyone who goes to San Francisco wants to visit the crookedest road in the country, or so they say. It’s very difficult to get a good shot of the curviness of the road with a phone camera. photo-42I was intrigued by this fairytale-like entry to one of the houses on Lombard Street so I’m showing you that instead.

We had lunch in Sausalito–best crab cake I’ve ever eaten.photo-63



Last year we didn’t make it to Haight Ashbury. I’m happy to say we went there this trip. I, being an old hippie, enjoyed that part of the trip more than my daughter and granddaughter did. photo-47It was (and still is) much romanticized. Truthfully, the only thing I find romantic about it is some of the architecture. photo-49I like the painted ladies. Many of them are being well cared for now and are simply lovely to look at. I think my travel buddies enjoyed the “ladies” too. And H (age 18) loved the huge music/poster store on Haight Street.

I went “heart” seeking again this year. I wrote about the hearts last year so I won’t repeat myself. I will leave you with a photo one of my favorite this-year hearts along with two of my favorite people in the whole wide world.photo-54

 


The Wedding.

photo-7I must have mentioned that my oldest granddaughter planned to wed.  Our family has thought of little else these past weeks.  Saturday, January 25, was the big day.  

If ever there was a fairy-tale wedding, this was it.  Sometimes the stars align, details fall in place, and life feels just right.  When it happens to one as dear as a grandchild, Gramma rejoices and asks no questions. I felt lucky to be along for the ride.

The bride glowed and the groom beamed. photo-9 The minister gave a lovely homily on the importance of familial support, a charge, if you will, to both families, and to friends present, to support and encourage the couple.  I think that’s important and necessary so I was happy that he included it in the service.

The reception, I think, was the most fun one I’ve ever attended. photo-10 One granddaughter  entered the ballroom at The State Club, looked at the flowers and cake, turned an ear to the music and commented, “I’ve been waiting for this my whole life!”  Then she went to the dance floor and started to cut a rug with her brother.  She literally danced the night away–with Uncle D and Cousin A and Sister H and whoever else was willing to take to the floor.  Yep.  It was seven-year-old S, my youngest grandchild. Here she is with her big brother.

On Monday, two days after the wedding when I went out to walk with my buddies, they told me I still had that wedding glow about me.  I guess that’s what happens when a grandma sees her grandchild perfectly happy.

I’ve had great fun telling friends about the festivities.  The photo booth was a big hit.  The best I can tell photographers with funny props and instant pictures are all the rage these days. photo Afterward one can go online and order more copies to share if one chooses to do so. Need I say I’m not likely to want more of me but I might want some of family and friends. Here, my grandson, his dad and I ham it up for the camera. Because I used to teach Spanish, I had to don the sombrero. Or so they said. I was happy that it matched my wedding ensemble.  Question: What do a Spanish teacher, a 12-year-old rabbi and a goofy dunce have in common? Answer: We’re family having fun.

Sit down now.  I’ve saved the best for last. Okay, I admit it’s probably not the best part but it just could be the funniest. The band spokesman announced that all the “single ladies” should come on the floor to vie for the bridal bouquet. You know the story. The one who catches the bouquet is the next one to marry. photo-8This was a spontaneous act. Really. My ear heard “single ladies” and the usually silent imp on my shoulder kicked the stuffing out of common sense and decorum. I stood, said “That’s me!” and entered the fray with a broad grin on my face.

I think the bride couldn’t stand to miss an opportunity such as this. She threw it right to me.

I’ve had lots of questions relevant to my “catch.”  Questions about dating, marrying again, etc. The answer is NO.

My favorite comment, though, came from my new grandson-in-law. He said, “Every once in a while a moment comes along that you know you’ll always remember. Pat kicking ass to get that bouquet is one of those moments.” Thanks, J. I do get a bit competitive sometimes. Welcome to the family. We love you.

A photo opportunity?

photo-1Erica Jong said, “My grandchildren are fabulous and funny.”

As far as I can tell, all grandparents feel that way about their grandchildren. I do.

Sometimes I get a wild notion, and if it has anything to do with the grandchildren, I go with it.  I probably don’t have to tell you that I often create all manner of unnecessary work for myself by thinking this way. Case in point–colorful crocheted hats for every child.  There are a few who aren’t children any longer.  But they’re still my children.

I made ten hats.  I have nine grandchildren but will happily add a grandson to my collection in January when he and my granddaughter wed.  Welcome, J!  And even though my older grandson is now living in the Colorado mountains and won’t be here, I have one for him.  Hey, I can hope, can’t I?  And I can send it to him in his Christmas package.  I miss you, grandson D.

I’m counting on them to go straight to a hat that suits them and prepare to mug for the camera.  And some goofy older kid will try on a hat that’s too small.  A younger one will put on a large hat, covering her/his face, and we will try to photograph all their antics.

Thanksgiving at Grammy’s.  Does it get any better than this?!?

To all who celebrate Thanksgiving Day, I wish you a joyful and peaceful day with family and friends.  To those who don’t, I wish you peace and joy, too.

We left the hearts in San Francisco…

photo(20)Recently I had the good fortune to travel to San Francisco with my youngest daughter S and her oldest daughter H.  I had been to California a couple of times before but this was my first trip to the lovely city by the bay.  I have a serious case of “love at first visit.”

Thanks to Tony Bennett’s famous “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” there’s an ongoing heart presence in various sites around the city.  The hearts pictured in this post are the ones that are on the four corners of Union Square.  photo(21)The only permanent heart is the one Tony Bennett painted.  (See the photos above and to the left.)  Can you believe the fabulous singer is also a painter?

Click here and/or here if you would like to learn more about the San Francisco heart project and the noted artists who have participated.  I am enamored by them and have been thinking maybe I could commission my gifted grandchildren to paint some for my yard and house.  It could happen.

I think this blue one might be my favorite.  I’m a bit of a blue/green girl.photo(41)  I posed my girls in front of it.  I think they added to its beauty.  Moments later a very kind woman came along and took a shot of all three of us. That one’s on my daughter’s camera so I don’t have a copy.  We were grinning and obviously having a fun time.

This notion of taking each  grandchild on a trip after his/her high school graduation started when my ex-husband and I took our first granddaughter to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  She chose the location.  D and I had been there before but Granddaughter E had  not.  We loved going again.  But most of all we enjoyed the company of our 17-year-old.  I still laugh when I remember E’s indignation as security pulled her out of the line, made her take off her hiking boots and answer additional questions while I stood behind the agent and mouthed “Be Nice”.photo(23)  She couldn’t help rolling her eyes.

There are six grandchildren still to graduate and I keep thinking “Ahh, the best laid plans…”  I can’t help feeling a degree of nostalgia.  D and I had planned these little trips together.  I have learned, though, that I’m quite capable of doing them without his help.  And have fun in the doing.

As it happens I will have a granddaughter graduate each of the next four years.  Then I have a break before my second boy graduates and an even bigger break before my little one finishes up.  I’m planning to stay physically strong and financially solvent enough to travel with every one of them.photo(27)  That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.

I never know where my writing is going to take me.  I started out intending to write about the glorious time I spent with S and H in San Francisco.  My fingers took another direction.  Sometimes I think they have a mind of their own, kinda like my unruly hair.

Stay tuned for San Francisco, Part 2.

Freshman orientation.

photo(25)Spending two days on a college campus will do one of two things for/to you when you’re my age.   Or maybe a little of both.  It will recall your own university days while reminding you how old you are now.  But if you’re lucky, it will also give you a jolt of youthful energy the likes of which you haven’t known in years.  Fortunately I got the good with the bad.

I spent Monday and Tuesday on the University of North Carolina – Wilmington campus.  It’s a part of the 17-campus UNC system.**  Wilmington is a port city, thus UNCW is our coastal university.  Many students matriculate there in order to study marine sciences.

My granddaughter H will be attending UNCW in the fall so I accompanied her and her mom, my youngest daughter S, to freshman orientation.  I pretended I was a parent and attended parent classes with S while H took placement tests, got acquainted with the campus and a good sampling of other freshmen students, and registered for fall semester classes.  The staff and upperclassmen who assisted with orientation were superb.  They worked together and ran their programs like a well-oiled machine.  Very impressive.

H is an artist and knows she wants to do something with her artistic talent, maybe graphic arts.  She’s  not entirely sure what her course of study will include.  Registration was an exercise in frustration for her.  She didn’t get any typical freshman courses because her AP exam scores are not available yet and she doesn’t know what courses she will not have to take.  In my opinion the courses she did get sounded more interesting than the typical freshman fare–Women’s Studies, for example.photo(23)

S and I were able to see much of the campus while we were waiting around for H.  At one point we were in the library when I saw a big blue glass sculpture in a display case. I went over to examine it more closely and learned it was done by one of my favorite artists, Dale Chihuly.  I think I have mentioned Chihuly in this space before.  Much of his work is displayed in Seattle where he lives.  The artist donated this piece to the UNCW library.  Thank you, Mr. Chihuly!  It’s beautiful.

In my opinion, universities are delightful places to spend time, especially with incoming first year students.  Everywhere I looked I saw beautiful faces beaming with hope, and energetic bodies in constant motion.  They don’t realize what a joy they are for the older generation to behold.  I have no desire to go back to that age, but I do have great confidence in their intelligence and good intentions.  They are our hope and I believe in them.photo(24)  Okay–enough schmaltz from me.

**For years the University of North Carolina System has been considered by many educators and other professionals to be one of the best state systems in the country.  Our history is long and impressive.  The University of NC at Chapel Hill was founded in 1789.  The Chapel Hill campus is the oldest public university in the United States and the only one that graduated students in the 18th Century.  As mentioned above, we have grown to 17 campuses.

Sadly, I (along with many other North Carolinians) have serious concerns about the future of higher education in our state.  We now have a Republican Governor AND a majority of Republicans in the General Assembly for the first time since Reconstruction.  Their first day on the job, they began a maniacal attack on education.  They are cutting funds and programs not only in the university system but in the K-12 public schools as well. It appears that our best years may be behind us.  Without adequate funds we will no longer be able to recruit the brightest and the best.  I’m demoralized by this turn of events.  But I’m also motivated to vote those destructive people out of office in the next election.

A day in the life…

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7:00-7:30 a.m.  Scritch, scratch.  Lulu is at the bedroom door.  It isn’t her feeding time.  She doesn’t go outside.  So, what does she want?  Company.  Me.  Sometimes I get up and let her in to snuggle for a while.  Other days I get up straight away and go downstairs with her.

Almost every day I get out of bed with an “itch” to write.  As regular readers know, I haven’t written much in the last few months.  So if I get up with a desire to write, what’s keeping me from doing so?  In part, it’s because I’ve been as busy as a honey bee in a bed of clover.  There was a while that I couldn’t write because I was seriously depressed.  That is no longer a problem, thanks to antidepressant medication which has worked a not-so-small miracle in that regard.

My upbeat mood and new-found energy have given me a joie de vivre that I haven’t had in a very long time.  I’m finding my schedule almost over-booked these days simply because I feel like doing things and seeing people.  Who knew there were so many entertaining endeavors waiting for me?  Well, I did.  But I couldn’t get past the lethargy that depression causes.  I’m grateful for another chance to live my life, and to enjoy doing so.

In the past couple of months I have been walking regularly with two of my neighbors.  (It’s lots more photo(19)fun when you have company.)  I’ve attended numerous grandchild functions:  a pre-prom photo session, an elementary school graduation, a high school graduation, two engagement parties, a gymnastics celebration banquet (the end of a rather lengthy gymnastics career–happy and sad), and more that I can’t remember at the moment.

In addition to the fun stuff, I have taken on a front yard project.  I’m wondering if my meds have made me a little more wacky than I normally am–not an easy feat since I’ve always been pretty wacky. As some of you know already, I don’t grow grass very well, so I decided I should construct some around-the-tree gardens in order to have less weedy grass to mow.photo(16)  I started by digging a v-shaped trench around the tree.  My research tells me this is a Victorian edge.  I didn’t want a brick or stone edging because it makes using the weed eater a bit fussy.  I thought the digging would be the hardest part, but abundant rain had saturated the ground and digging was a breeze.

The next step was to cover inside the circle with newspapers.  The newspaper kills weeds and unwanted grass in the finished product.  Then I spread four (or so) inches of soil on top of the newspapers.  Next came a nice thick layer of mulch on top of the dirt. Viola. The garden is ready for some shade-loving plants.photo(20)

I took this photo shortly after I planted.  We’ve had a great deal of rain and sunshine since then, so I’m able to see growth almost every day.  Only two more trees to go.  My neighbors are waiting patiently.  I’m still a little surprised (and proud) that I was able to do this by myself.  Gave me a nice sense of accomplishment.