Friday, July 28, 2006


This morning I am watching the birds. At last, their bird feeder seems to be their own. Up to this point, the squirrels have been invading the property, scattering their seed on the ground. They didn't seem to mind it all that much. They just picked it up off the ground and ate it...they don't know the 5-second rule. My SO, on the other hand, really minded it. The squirrels became public enemy #1.

It began the first night we hung it on a really leafy branch. By morning, the squirrels had all but destroyed it. The cedar gazebo had been knocked to the ground - the cord chewed through - and the seed strewn. Tiny squirrel teeth marks scarred the wood. The bird feeder lay in pieces. The house could be salvaged, but a little remodeling was in order. One trip to the hardware store and Steve thought he had it handled. He put the feeder back together and hung it from a thick piece of steel wire. Then he filled it with seed. And he watched.

The next morning, while the feeder remained in tact, the squirrels and birds were again, feeding off of the ground. The squirrels it seemed, had found a way to dump it. The mound of seeds under the feeder grew day by day. Woodland creatures came to feast. Forrest, the baby cottontail and his mother among them. Steve filled the seed everyday - it was starting to be out of control.

Sneak attacks were also being made on the windchimes that we had placed in the trees. There was one casualty, as the squirrels chewed on their strings. All ended up on the ground, dead soldiers. We were able to resuscitate two of them, but they remain in sick bay, while we come up with a new location.

The BB gun was next and my SO was on a mission. He wouldn't kill them, he said. Just teach them a lessons. Well, the squirrels are slow learners. He popped them in the head, on the butt, but they came back for more. It was as if they had little squirrel armor keeping them safe. As if every morning they donned their little helmets and went to feed. "Hey, watch for the sniper at 6 o'clock."

Needless to say, this tactic was unsuccessful, so he decided to move birdseed central to a new location. And so last night, after a trip to the hardware store, he feeder was secured. It now sits on top of the cement post that once held a clothes line. It is suspended from a piece of metal that extends about 2 feet from the post. And from my position here by the window, the squirrels haven't figured out just how to get up there. Gathered at the bottom, they scheme and plan their next attack. Every once in awhile, one of them darts over to the remnants of the pile of seeds that remain on the ground where the feeder used to be for a light snack. And the birds, well they seem to enjoy the view and the seed from this new location.

And so I watch...and enjoy the show. Has the war possibly been won? Or is it just detente?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

return flight

Thinking about Houston and my reluctance to visit. One week from tomorrow I will be on a plane headed back. I know it is something that needs to be done, will tie up loose ends, and will leave me feeling as if there has been forward motion. Still, I am reluctant. When I left it behind, watching it fade into the distance in the rearview mirror, I was thrilled to be moving on - starting a new life in a new place. I could glance as the city passed by, knowing that I could shake the dust from my boots and walk a new walk.

As I plan this trip, I realize that I must look Houston and all it means right in the face. Deal with unresolved issues and confront the fears I have about myself and my own weaknesses. This doesn't sound like fun. I wish I were going to visit friends, see my kids and laugh a lot. But this is business. How will I stand up to it? Will I find the strong voice that I know is inside of me?

I have been practicing. I have been speaking my truth. For the last year I have been *VERY BRAVE*. But it's as if Houston brings out the weakness, and reminds me of all that I did not do, did not say. When I look at all the stuff, I realize that I am really the angriest at me, for living a life that was not okay. For not standing up for myself. And I look at this trip as an opportunity to undo all of that - well, maybe not undo, but to make it better. To do what I couldn't in the past, and to stick up for myself.

Ann has agreed to stand with me. Her presence will, I hope, give me courage.

I was thinking about what Roger said last weekend, that I had the balls of an elephant. I'm sure he was talking about my move to South Dakota, and being able to be fearless about the future. He would be surprised to see this other side of me. The side that has no balls at all. The side that quivers at the thought of confronting this past of mine. I'm thinking that it would be a good thing to write his words down on a sheet of paper to take with me to the "meeting." So that I will smile and see myself as a courageous - but gentle - giantess. This picture will help. Maybe I should draw her. She will be beautiful and strong, and her mouth will be open. (She is never afraid to speak.) And perhaps she should wear a tiara.

I wonder how many times I will return to Houston, and if my visits will always inspire these fears, or if instead, one day I can look this city straight in the face and forget. Will I be able to return with excitement of seeing friends and family? To remember the joys that I experienced there? My hope is that one day I will feel Houston's heat and humidity as I disembark from an airplane, and feel bittersweet about my journey there, my extended stay, and the life I made for myself there.

I will make my reservation today...and will do it with the intention of creating a good visit - a productive visit. But I will be glad to get on the plane and come home at the end to the new life I've made here in the SLRH on 14th St.

Friday, July 21, 2006

the proposal

Got a proposal from my soon-to-be-ex husband yesterday... funny how you begin and end a marriage with the same thing. Like the first one, it made my heart beat faster and left me relatively speechless, but for very different reasons. The first time I was excited, thrilled even. This time I was angry, disgusted and shocked that he might believe that after 17 years of marriage I would walk away with less than I deserve. So I took last night to think about it and what I know is that there are many reasons that I got an apartment, took the dog, the daybed, and moved out. And perhaps the biggest reason of all was his selfishness. So this latest proposal should have come as no surprise. It's not the money really. The numbers don't matter as much as the principal of the thing. I did, after all, relinquish my very lifestyle to take care of him and his children, to financially support his whims, wise or foolish (the motorcycle for instance), and to live my entire life as "servant."

Okay, everyday wasn't a bad day. And some days were even joyful. But through it all I learned to keep the waters still to avoid angry outbursts and drinking binges. What he took from me was much more than my paychecks, but instead, my own sense of self. And he believes that offering me a smaller portion of what we owned together will make up for that. He's sadly mistaken. Nothing he can offer would be enough. It's taken me more than a year to find the person I was, who faded into the oak woodwork of the house on Castle Hill. And now that she's back, she won't sell herself short. Not this time. Fool me once with promises of love and I'm the sucker. I won't accept the second proposal...but only an agreement made on my terms. And this will surprise him, because he doesn't remember the person he met, who buried herself under motherhood and housekeeping. She was strong, assertive and smart...and she knew how to take care of herself. Always did, always will.

He would be shocked to know that I think he's selfish I think. Because he doesn't see it. He lives in fear and lack and can be nothing other than selfish. I, on the other hand, do my best to accept the abundance of the universe and know that there will always be more than enough.

My answer is no. I will not be her again. I will not let your proposal make me feel small or weak in the knees. I will not cower, or hide, or fade into the woodwork to keep the waters still. I feel a storm brewing. There will be thunder, lightning and strong winds. And no matter the aftermath, I will have won, stood strong, found myself again, and this is priceless.

Friday, July 14, 2006

gone fishin'

Seems like a write about coffee a lot. Seems like I drink coffee a lot. I suppose it's because a hot cup of coffee is an integral part of every morning of my life. This morning was no exception. But it was different.

I was still in bed, trying to motivate myself to get up, when I heard the voice of my SO from the kitchen calling my name. He said, "There's a problem with the coffee." How could there be a problem with the coffee? I make coffee every night and set the brew cycle so that I will be greeted with the rich aroma and a fresh pot when I wake up. So I rolled out of bed and made my way toward the kitchen. There was a problem with the coffee. Instead of a full decanter, it was half full, and the remainder was on the white floor and dripping down the side of the cabinet. I was clueless. I grabbed a towel and started to clean it up, but paused to pour a cup, took a drink, and finished cleaning up the mess. The phone rang. It was the sister of my SO. She was upset because she wanted to go to the lake with us this weekend, but her husband wouldn't "let" her.

Wow...this day was going to be different. The coffee and quiet I usually enjoy before the day begins was no where, and I was in the middle of it all. Not a morning person, I have a hard time relating to anyone before 7. I had no words to calm Belinda, nor did I have the desire to clean up a kitchen mess. Then I remembered the events of the night before. Business stuff gone wrong. Chaos is in the air today, and there is nothing I can do about it but cut and run.

I did clean up the mess and make another pot of coffee. Now I wait for the phone to ring signaling more chaos as I drink my coffee.

Can I design my day sans chaos? Create a day that is peaceful when the world around me is running amok at dawn? I'd like to believe the answer is yes. And so I will refrain from talking on the phone, shower, pack a small bag and disappear to the backyard where the bluebonnets are blooming until my SO arrives to whisk me off to a place where my phone doesn't get a signal and Bo makes me coffee every morning. Sometimes I think that our weekend trips to the lake come too often - but on days like today, I'm glad we have this place to get away, to fish and sit around the campfire, to make s'mores and sleep in.

If you have drama to report, or chaos on order, don't look for me here....after I finish my coffee, I'm "gone fishin'".

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

good morning world

This morning I was thinking about Bailey, and how he used to wake me every morning before 6, and how I didn't like it much, but got used to it. Since he's been gone, it's unusual for me to be at the computer before the sun actually rises. But today I am. And so I'm here, thinking about when this used to be a regular thing. I am strangely conscious of the changes in my life. Seems like my whole life I heard the phrase, "all that is constant is change." Somehow, these days, there seems to be no truer thing.

A consultation with the "other side" affirmed what I've known for awhile...that the teaching has run its course, and that I won't be doing that anymore. And so I am left with the question, "what next?" And I'm sure I don't know the answer. I keep waiting for a sign to point me off in some direction. Don't see it yet. Lynnette says I should write Steve's story. It feels like the right thing to do, and yet somehow I know he wouldn't want it on paper. He holds it close. How could I convince him that it needs to be told. The cast of characters would be colorful, and they are oh-so-real. The story is painful and harsh - the plot hard to conceive for most people, including me. Life is indeed stranger than fiction. There is no least not yet, and this will write itself as time passes. Will he live "happily ever after?"

The sun is rising on my SLRH and my SLB. The flowers we planted out back are growing tall and beautiful. Best of all, the bluebonnets have indeed shown their rich color. I can see them from the window and they make me smile. They have answered the question I posed when planting them with a resounding "yes" - a transplant from Texas can indeed thrive in South Dakota. Geraniums, bachelor buttons, zinnias, and some other pretty little blooming things form quite a border in front of the stone that marks the property line. And when I sit out back watching the birds that frequent the feeder, I know they agree...this is a good place to be.

The property management company is going to paint the outside of the SLRH, or cover the wood with vinyl siding. Perhaps I will have to rename this place. With a nice yard and a nice house it may become my LLRH (Lovely little rent house). It will be restored to the beauty it once was. Change happens, and with it we change, or become ourselves again.

Monday, July 10, 2006

fearlessness and other things

The beach was beautiful, as it always is. And it was great to see my family, as it always is. But this year was different. I guess it's because I'm different. I think it changed the dynamic of our interactions.

I think the biggest change in me has to do with fearlessness. Okay, if I'm honest, I do have fears. But sitting here they elude me. But these fears small in comparison to those I used to have. I used to be afraid to be myself. Those who know me might find it difficult to believe, because no one knew. I never admitted it out loud. I just kept the monsters at bay. Mostly, I was afraid to speak. I was afraid to say what was on my mind. I was afraid to push any boundary that might make someone uncomfortable.

I talked to my friend Kathy, and she said she never saw this in me. And I have to admit there were a few people who gave me the space to be myself. There was a sense that no matter what I said or did, they would accept me. And with these people I was authentic. Mostly, these people were non-threatening personally. I had nothing to lose by being myself. But when it came to my family, my kids, my marriage...I was careful, always waiting to be "found out." I was afraid they might find out that I was not the best daughter...the best wife...the best mother. They would discover that for all my wisdom, I didn't have all the answers. In fact, it was easy to give advice to others. After careful research, I could tell them what herb to take for what ailment, how to fix their love life, how to craft a story, how to talk to their kids, and how to build a balanced layout. But when it came to my own stuff, I was very careful. It was hard to make decisions because they might be wrong. And so I did nothing. And after awhile, I found myself a spectator in life. I found that I would dream about adventure, about love, about life, and I would write about it. But the reality was...I was not living my life.

And then, one day I stopped sleepwalking and decided that I wanted to participate in life. To be an adventurer on the road. And I realized I don't have to please was impossible. And so then it became important to please me.

Some people say I'm crazy for moving to Sioux Falls. But I know it was the sanest thing I've done in years. It's sane because it's what I wanted. I followed my own truth. I became a participant. Taking a risk, I found that there were no scraped knees and no bruises. It wasn't scary at all. It was right.

Last night I sat on a rocky river bank and thought about the fact that I spent years not swimming in lakes or rivers because I couldn't see the bottom. The unknown scared the hell out of me. My soul longed to plunge in. My friends were already in the water...finding rocks big enough to stand on. And I wavered. And then I thought about the fact that I had watched fearless people all of my life - participants, and I wanted to be one of them. So I took a deep breath and walked in, slowly at first. The water was warm and clean and beautiful. I was surrounded with walls of rock that rose from the water and towered above me. Soon I was swimming where I couldn't touch bottom, and I felt alive...really alive.

Living is good.