Friday, February 26, 2016

The queen of binge

"Oh my love, I hope real soon
To be at home and get close to you."

I didn't know binge watching was a thing. I thought I invented the concept and the phrase.

For the past several years I've been in the habit of watching TV series on my iPad while I walk on the treadmill (3 mph for one hour, 4 times a week or so).

I watch a variety of genres, as long as it is crime drama, preferably British or Australian, although The Killing, all American, was a favorite.

I've worked my way through Morse, Lewis, Endeavor, Gently, Foyle, Tennison ((Prime Supect), Vera, Scott and Bailey, Chambers (Grantchester)), Holmes, Wexford, Wallender, Worricker, Banks, Blake, Brodie (Case Histories), Taylor, River and more.

I've watched (and sometimes rewatched) Above Suspician, Broadchurch (and Gracepoint), Single Handed, The Escape Artist, The Fall, Happy Valley, Hinterland, Top of the Lake, Whitechapel, and others.

I tried (and failed) to like Midsomer Murders and strugged through Death in Paradise. Neil and I have been working our way through all 12 seasons of New Tricks. We're interspersing that with the Honorable Miss Phryne Fisher and have the Murdoch Mysteries queued up next.

Others on my bucket list include Alleyn, Lynley, Frost, Bradley, the rest of Ruth Rendell, Rosemary and Thyme.

It only stands to reason that I've long since consumed Marple, Poirot, and Wimsey. I've mixed in some silliness (Grimm) and I've sucked down lots of miniseries such as Amnesia, Collision, Five Days, Heat of the Sun, The Last Enemy, Appropriate Adult. I just finished The Missing and I have Secrets and Lies on the menu for this week.

I tried to watch and like the X-Files because Gillian Anderson (wo was so riveting in The Fall), but it was too dated. I'll give the comeback season a chance when it's up on Amazon or Netflix.

I was mesmerized by Ashes to Ashes but only caught parts of it when it aired. I want to start with Life on Mars which just came out in Region 1 DVD format.

Not exactly a crime drama, but it still showed up in my Netflix recommendations (you liked this, you might like that), Rectify held me spellbound and I eagerly await Season 4.

I've only started binge watching recently. The Killing was my gateway drug. I walk on the treadmill for an hour, and the episodes are only 45 minutes, so watching two episodes in one day was my first step down that slippery slope. I think I gulped all 6 (hour-long) episodes of the final season over 3 days.

So far, three episodes at a stretch triggers my guilt limit, and I have to go watch something else, like Nature or Nova or Downton Abbey.

The best thing about being so hooked on a series is looking forward to getting on the treadmill for the next installment. And so far, my watchlist is looking quite healthy, but I'm still thinking about taking time out to re-watch all 6 seasons of Lost.

It's funny, there are quite a few shows that I never watched but heard a lot about and could watch, Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black, The Walking Dead, but none have bubbled even close to the surface. We got Season 1 of Game of Thrones from my stepson, but I'm having trouble getting invested. You'd think with my passion for gritty mysteries I'd be pretty immune to violence, but there's something more disturbing about Thrones somehow.

Lest you think we've given up reading, be reassured, we have not. We're close to starting the last book in the Narnia Chronicles, The Last Battle, which I've never read. After that, we have three new-old Nancy Drew mysteries. I'd like to read C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy, and Alice in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass, and the Madeleine L'Engle series, A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, The Arm of the Starfish, Dragons in the Waters, A House Like a Lotus and An Acceptable Time. And after that, The Once and Future King - The Sword in the Stone, The Queen of Air and Darkness, The Ill-Made Knight and The Candle in the Wind. Whew!

But I suppose it's Neil's turn to choose. I wonder what he will pick. Perhaps not Sense and Sensibility.

Oh, remember my missing USPS parcels? As I imagined, they all rematerialized. I was at First Colony picking up a package for Neil. That's another story. We never got an orange slip. He called the vendor, who provided a tracking number and the USPS site said delivery had been attempted days earlier. I printed it out and went to get his package.

It was my lucky day because our former postwoman Roberta was working the package window, and also because miraculously no one was in line behind me. So after she retrieved Neil's package, I told her the whole sad story. She said, let me have a look around. Literally less than a minute later I heard her say, I found them.

She gave me back six of my eight missing parcels - including the one where the customer told me she had received the bead. I took them home, doctored up the "fragile" labels with butterflyand heart stickers and remailed them. Mysteriously, the other two missing parcels also appeared in the USPS tracking system the next day. I suspect Roberta found them after I left and pushed them through.

So far, only one person who I gave a refund to has insisted on repaying me. A couple of people who chose replacement beads offered to pay, but it seemed unfair somehow, since they didn't get money back to make them pay again, when they might not have wanted to buy two sets of beads. I haven't heard from everyone yet, but I'm calling this chapter closed.

So life is good. I've been selling a reasonable number of beads again. I finished up another 100 Carry a Bead pairs for Beads of Courage. I'm still waiting to be paid for the 100 pairs I sent in January but I know I will be paid eventually.

I started listing beads on Etsy again, and I've had some sales, old customers and new. I figured, I've taken the photos, I've measured the beads, I've written a description, why not. I'm not overthinking it, not bothering too much with tag loading or cramming as many keywords as possible into the title. SEO? The hell with that. Still it seems to be working, slowly picking up steam. Frit sales are trucking along too. I actually had to reorder some colors.

I've even rediscovered some lost love for melting glass. I limit myself to 30 mandrels in a torch session and I've been playing with a southwestern palette - coral, turquoise, ivory - as well as lots of earth tones and raku. I've had fun making little birds, which have been surprisingly popular.

The weather has been beautiful for torching. This is my favorite time of year.

Best of all, I've made life easier on myself by having all my bead auctions end at one time per day, 1 pm, and having fewer auctions at a time. It has been surprisingly liberating not to have auctions ending at 4 pm too. I hadn't realized how much pressure that 3-hour window in between auction-ending times was putting on me. Fitting in a workout, a bath, a trip to the post office, a stop at the store, it felt like I was always passing myself coming and going.

I feel like I have more freedom, flexibility and time now.

Time for my latest love.


Oh my love, we pray each day
May you come home and be okay
For now we'll wait
For you
For you
To come home

I'll send a pack of cigarettes
And some chocolates I hope you get
They're for you

Oh my love, I hope real soon
To be at home and get close to you
For now, we'll wait
For some news
For some news
To come home

My mind is always on your side
I see you all the time
With love for you.

(Inne Eysermans and Sebastiaan van den Branden of Amatorski - theme song from The Missing)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

An insane situation

He said “Let’s make love on a mountain top, under the stars on a big hard rock.”
I said “In these shoes? I don’t think so.”

There's a saying among writers - or so I've been told, I don't know this personally because I'm only a covert writer - that everyone thinks they have a book in them.

It reminds me of something the manager of public relations said, during my stint as a corporate communications specialistt, when business leads or company executives wanted to rewrite our press releases. "We don't think we can do their jobs, why do they think they can do ours?"

So does eveyone really think they have a book in them? That's huge. I mean a book. That's really huge. That's a couple of hundred pages at least, or 700 pages if you're J.K. Rowling or Jonathan Frantzen.

I'm a writer, in the loosest sense of the word. I've been published and I have a body of work that includes actual words in actual sentences and paragraphs, on one topic or another, mostly the pinnacles and pitfalls of being me.

But a book? I'm not so sure.

If you'd asked me that 50 years ago I might have said it was my dearest hope, my brightest dream, to be an author. This of course was in the hostoric golden days of print books, before Amazon and ebooks and Kindle and self-publication and posssibly the Internet itself. There was plenty of time though, time to live and experience something (anything) worth putting pen to paper, fingertips to typewriter, keyboard or touch screen.

Then years went by, and I guess I was in one too many bookstores before most of them closed and I'd think, there are already so many books in the world, so many writers. Monkeys have probably keystoked the complete works of Shakespeare by now.

The worst of it was the bargain bins, the markdown tables. Look here, somebody spent time on this tome about shoebox gardening or baking with turmeric or fifty shades of fuchsia. Someone took a chance on putting it in print, someone invested in cover art and head shots and forewords and prologues and illustrations. Someone sent out advance copies to reap praise bytes to quote on the dust jacket.

And here it sits, marked down to $2.

If that was my book, I'd be at risk of revisiting clinical depression. Better not to not write a book at all. Or as my dad liked to say, it's better to have loved and lost. Much better.

He was joking of course. He adored my mother. They were married for almost 62 years until his death did them part.

As I was saying in my last post, if my mom had had her way, his death wouldn't have parted them. She'd have gone with him, or followed closely on his stone cold heels.

Once my dad was resting the long rest of the just we didn't pay enough attention to my mom's relentless mantra, I just want to go to sleep and never wake up.

We had lives and jobs and obligations to get back to. It did feel a bit like we cut and ran, but maybe that's mostly in retrospect. I thought it was just words. I never dreamed my mom would actually try to go to sleep and never wake up.

I asked my mom if she wanted to come home with us for a while. She didn't. I raised the idea of hiring someone to come in a few days a week to clean and cook. I said, we could have someone start right away if you'd like that. My mom said, let me see how I do first.

And all the while she had her plan fully hatched and fledged. We went to the grocery store and she bought some Unisom because she said she was having trouble sleeping. At home, the bottle mysteriously got lost. That should have rang a warning bell, raised a red flag. My mom is super organized. When we cleaned out her freezer months later, everything was labeled and dated. Everything had its place. Pills being misplaced or accidentally tossed was out of character.

As I said, we weren't paying enough attention. We were all so sad and shocked by my dad's death. More mistakes were made.

On the day Neil and I left, my brother took my mom to the grocery store again. They picked up another bottle of Unisom. My mom put a second bottle in the shopping cart.

I'd like to say if I had been there I would have objected. I would have confronted her. I would have asked her what she planned to do with all that Unisom. I would have told her that taking an overdose of Unisom would not kill her, it would just make her very, very sick.

My brother flew home to New Jersey the day after we departed for Texas. As soon as his plane landed he called my mom and got no answer. He called me. He wondered if she was lying in bed staring at the ceiling and just not picking up the phone. I thought it more likely that some of her friends had come over and taken her out to eat, maybe to a movie.

I said, let's give it an hour and then call the retirement community security. An hour later, we sent security to her apartment. Mom was lying on the floor next to her bed. She had been very sick indeed, but she wasn't unresponsive. A neighbor later told me that she walked to the waiting ambulance. She was taken to Northwest Medical Center hospital in Margate, where she was admitted and - because she'd attempted to take her own life - Baker-Acted.

The Baker Act provides for emergency or involuntary commitment if there is evidence that a person is a harm to self. I've written about this part of my mom's story before. An aide was assigned to be in the room with her at all times, until, after a week, she was transferred to the University Hosptital Center for Geriatric Behavioral Health. She spent the rest of 2010 there.

It was an insane situation, pun accidental but appropos. Mom still wanted to go to sleep and never wake up, as she told her attending physician daily. This pretty much guaranteed an extended stay. They put her in adult pull-ups and loaded her up with antidepressants. I remember my mom insisting she wasn't depressed. She was completely straight-faced when she said it. Depression, grief, none of it bore weight or meaning beside what seemed to her a perfectly logical, defensible wish - to not go on living without my father.

I'm afraid I didn't cut her much slack. I of all people, who fell down the rabbit hole when I man I'd been dating for just a few months abruptly decided that I was a big mistake. Back then there were days when I barely managed to function, hours when I cried gallons of tears, weeks when I lived on yogurt and oatmeal, months when going to a party was as appealing as cleaning the bathroom. But I didn't want to die. I wanted to get better. I also wanted him to show up at my door with two dozen roses and profound apologies. But even if I was delusional, I was doing whatever I had to do to get through the heartsickness.

My mom was a Holocaust survivor. I thought she was strong, much stronger than I was. When I was growing up, she had no patience for my melancholy moods, no tolerance for my sensitivity and vulnerability. She engineered my low self-esteem with her constant disapproval of me, her disappointment that I wasn't someone who I wasn't, someone more like she was. Practical. Sociable. Outgoing. Well-adjusted. Assured. Poised. Positive. Sanguine. Upbeat. Pragmatic.

So when my dad died, how could I have stood in her shoes? How could I have had even one clue about the kind of shoes she was wearing?

How much of her flawed decision-making was a result of her impaired cognition? My brother saw it this way. As long as my mom knew my dad was there she was able to function reasonably well. Knowing that he had her back gave her a certain confidence. They had fallen into patterns they were probably scarcely conscious of, my dad putting out my mom's medicine, reminding her about little things, coaching her through her days.

My dad did her no good deed by denying the degree of her mental degradation. I do understand. He was old, he was ailing, he was tired. He didn't want to face change. He didn't want to move. He didn't want to think about my mom, struggling to survive in a world without him around to prop her up, cheer her on. So he didn't.

My mom eventually was discharged from the psych ward, after my brother and I suggested that if she wanted to leave, she should stop telling the doctor she wanted to go to sleep and never wake up. We had her transferred to Homewood Residence, an assisted living facility in Coconut Creek, for what we naively hoped was temporary "respite" care. At that point I thought she'd rally. Grieve, get a grip, go home, resume some sort of life.

The damage my mom did to herself snowballed. The overdose attempt, the first hospital stay, where she ricocheted from relative lucidity to talking to imaginary people in tongues, the longer psych ward stay, where they took away her underwear and her dignity, and fed her on styrofoam with plastic spoons, culminated in her waking up in an unfamiliar room, day after endless day.

It could have been different. My mom had choices. She could have stayed in her home and hired help, full time if need be. She could have moved to New Jersey or Texas to be nearer one of her children and some of her grandchildren. There was a short window of time when my brother and I could have made that choice for her, but we chose instead to believe she'd improve and respected her express wish to stay in Florida.

We didn't know that she would live almost three more years. Her initial decline was so rapid that by May we started hospice care. But my mom didn't die. She didn't exactly live either. She stabilized and kept breathing, eating, sleeping, ticking off the days. She existed but she didn't want to be here on earth any more.

Sometimes I feel quite guilty. I wasn't the worst daughter but I wasn't the best daughter. I left her alone too quickly after my dad died. I didn't insist on moving her when it was still possible, even though she would have gone, figuratively, kicking and screaming. Later the obstacles to a move, the physical and mental toll on my mom, always seemed to outweigh any nebulous benefit. She really didn't care where she was.

She had good care, kind staff at Homewood, a wonderful hospice team, a lovely personal aide, whatever small comforts money could buy. Yet at some level it felt as though we'd "warehoused" her. Put her in storage while we all waited for her to die. And there is a little mean voice deep inside me that whispers, "you reap what you sow." But am I talking to my mom - who failed to nurture my psyche during my childhood, who didn't care enough about me to stick around after my dad died - or to myself?

Your guess is as good as mine.

I've judged her harshly I think. I have no frame of reference for being alone after being happily married for more than 61 years, for being in an indefinitely deteriorating state of mind.

What provoked this reminiscence is that Neil has been traveling on business and whenever he is gone for a few nights I start to imagine the kind of shoes I'd be wearing if I knew he was never coming home. And it's impossible. I can't project how I'd feel. Obviously I'd feel differently now than I would in 25 years, if I were 87, my mom's age when my dad died. I hope if I were 87 I'd be able to grieve without giving up, live out whatever time I had left, find solace in my children and grandchildren, maybe even feel joy again.

Dementia in my mom's case was the wild card. Luckily I take after my dad. But if I were to go down my mom's road, I hope I'd recognize the signs and accept the prognosis. In the worst case scenario, being left on my own, I hope I'd have found a sustainable living situation for whatever time I had left. Because I don't look at life as a choice. That doesn't mean it would be easy.

It would be better if Neil outlives me. Much better.

My mom, 90 years old, May 18, 2013. She died Oct. 30, 2013.

I once met a man with a sense of adventure
He was dressed to thrill wherever he went
He said “Let’s make love on a mountain top
Under the stars on a big hard rock.”

I said “In these shoes?
I don’t think so.”
I said “Honey, let’s do it here."

So I’m sitting at a bar in Guadalajara
In walks a guy with a faraway look in his eyes
He said “I’ve got as powerful horse outside
Climb on the back, I’ll take you for a ride
I know a little place, we can get there for the break of day.”

I said “In these shoes?
No way, Jose.”
I said “Honey, let’s stay right here.”

Then I met an Englishman
“Oh” he said
“Won’t you walk up and down my spine
It makes me feel strangely alive.”

I said “In these shoes?
I doubt you’d survive.”
I said “Honey, let’s do it.
Let’s stay right here.”

No le gusta caminar, no puede montar a caballo
(She doesn’t like to walk, she can’t ride a horse)
Como se puede bailar, es un escandolo
(But the way she dances, it’s a scandal)

(Kirsty MacColl and Pete Glenister)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Those shoes

"For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."

Looking back to see what I'd written when my father died, I was actually surprised to be reminded that I started this blog in May 2012.

My father died in November 2010, 3 weeks shy of his 90th birthday and 18 months shy of the time when I would have posted about it.

I think that time is way overdue.

But the reason that time comes to mind right now is what happened in the aftermath. My mother, 87 years old, tried to take her own life.

They had been married more than 61 years. Here they are, a bit younger.

At the time of my dad's death, my mom was in the early stages of dementia. I'd say very early, but I hadn't seen her since the preceding April. We postponed an October visit in favor of a family celebration in Florida on December 21, when my dad would have turned 90.

On our vist in April, I noticed that my mom seemed oddly forgetful, especially in the short term. She'd ask a question, I'd answer, she'd ask the same question later and have no recollection of the answer, which is not unusual, but of having asked the question already. We've all done that thing where we ask something again and when we hear the answer, we say, oh that's right, you told me, sorry.

For my mom there was no sorry because she had erased the entire memory. But when I asked (confronted? challenged?) her about it, she denied any impairment. She still played duplicate bridge. She still paid bills and balanced her checkbook.

We did a couple of online tests about dementia. She knew what number came after 937. She was as sociable as ever. She didn't get lost in familiar places. She could do simple math and name 10 animals in a minute. She knew the month, the year, and the name of the President. She still enjoyed the things she had always enjoyed, swimming, seeing friends, enjoying early bird specials. She still cooked and baked. She didn't become inappropriately angry or irrational.

But I still had the feeling that something wasn't right and argued that she should at least consult a specialist. She took this as though I was accusing her of petty theft or public intoxication. As if memory loss was something with a stigma attached, some personal moral failing. I'm not sure why she was so resistant to the thought. Her brother, who was three years older, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Years earlier her mother, my grandmother, in her late 80s had suffered from what was then labeled senility.

She finally turned to my dad and said, do you think I have Alzheimer's?

And my dad, the consumate conflict-avoider, the path-of-least-resistance devotee, the don't-rock-the-boat specialist, said, I think you forget things that you should remember.

We also pointed out that even if her mind was just fine, there still was no downside to having an expert corroborate that. So she agreed to schedule an evaluation, and that was the best outcome I could have expected.

I went home after the visit and didn't give it much further thought. My mom still called me every Sunday, as she had since I was a college freshman, and although I vaguely noticed that our long conversations had devolved into brief chats where it seemed that my mom just wanted to know that all was well and get the hell off the phone. If I wasn't home she'd send me an email asking me to let her know everything was fine.

Only in retrospect did this sink in as having any significance. Mostly I was happy to keep our chats short. We'd had some very long talks while my first marriage was going downhill and at other times when my life was a mess. In some ways I felt like we'd talked ourselves out.

So I didn't know until after my dad died, that she had indeed consulted a memory loss expert, who had diagnosed her with a 15 percent cognitive impairment. In other words, she was 85 percent fine cognitively sppeaking. And at the age of 87, you can't feel too badly about that. She was in fact, quite proud of herself when she told us later. So there, take that.

But she failed to mentuon that the expert looked at her family history and recommended she take the drug Aricept, a medication used in the treatment of Alzheimer's to improve cognition. It does not cure or slow the progress of the condition, but it's believed to be most effective when used in the early stages.

My mom flat out refused to take the drug. My father reverted to standard conflict-avoidance mode and bowed to her wishes. He was 89 and tired I think. Mistakes were made.

I found all this out after his death six months later, after my mom tried to overdose on Unisom and Tylenol pm. That is when I started making phone calls and talking to her doctors myself. Her refusal to medicate wasn't all that surprizing. My mom was a fatalist. She did not have pap tests or mammograms. She never had a colonscopy, not even after nursing my dad through his colon cancer surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, and seeing the profound toll it took on him, how it reduced the quality of the last 15 years of his life. She deferred to fate in all things. Until that day when she tried to take fate into her own hands.

My dad's death was sudden, if death can be sudden in your 90th year. His health on the whole was good, but the residual effects of his cancer left him with digestive miseries, so he often didn't feel very well, though he was not a complainer. He took life more and more quietly. He said that the less he ate, the better he felt, but he was very thin. I would not call him frail though. He was just my dad. His mind was as sharp as his hearing was muted. He stopped walking for exercise, he sat and read more. He gave up driving at night - and probably should have given it up altogether.

This isn't the best photo but I have so few. When did I stop taking pictures of my parents? This one was taken on one of his last trips, in February 2008 I think, when my parents came to see my new house.

I remember he commented that there was no safety bar in the shower so he couldn't lean over to wash his ankles. Begging the question who washes their ankles, Neil offered to put in a safety bar before his next visit. But there was no next visit.

We had airline tickets and reservations at his favorite Italian restaurant to celebrate his Decmeber 21 birthday, but on November 30, 2010, on my way home from work, I got a call from my brother that Dad was in the hospital. A nurse told my brother to get on a plane double quick if he wanted to see him again. That didn't happen. By the time I got home there was a message from my mom on my answering machine. My father had died, she was sitting with him, please call her.

My father was dead. Myocardial infarction is what the death certificate would say. A heart attack.

My brother flew from New Jersey to Florida that night. Neil and I caught an early flight the next morning.

The next days were a blur of making preparations to put him to rest. I can't say bury him. I can't even say funeral. In the Jewish religion the dead are laid to rest as soon as possible. My parents weren't particularly observant, but they celebrated the high holidays and loosely followed Jewish tradition, if not the letter of Jewish law. Cremation is against Jewish tradition, so my parents had elected to be interred in an aboveground vault. They made all the arrangements, purchased their caskets and selected their space in the vault, on the highest level of the seven-story vault on the end. We joked that it was an "end unit."

My parents' condo was an end unit, on the top floor of their four-story building. They chose it because no one had to walk past their kitchen window to get home. The kitchen itself was larger since the walkway ended at my parents' front door, and they had windows on three sides, not just the front and back.

We met with the funeral home staff to do paperwork. My brother asked if he could see our dad, and an employee who was both ridiculously insensitive and ill-trained said it wasn't possible because our father was "under refrigeration." She redeemed herself somewhat by making arrangements for a military color guard to carry the American flag and play taps at the interment site. My dad, a World War II veteran, would have loved that.

My parents did not belong to a temple or have a Rabbi, so after kicking it around a bit, my brother and I decided to lead a little service ourselves for the gathering of friends and relatives at the funeral home the following day. We got to see my dad laid out in his casket, before it was closed for the service. He looked very tan, but he was so cold.

My mom greeted her guests with her usual warmth, poise and graciousness. My brother spoke about my dad, the honorable man who did the right thing always. I'm a reluctant public speaker so I briefly talked about how my dad had instilled in me a love of music and poetry, and then recited one of my dad's favorite poems, Wordsworth's Daffodils.

After my dad was hoisted on a mechanical lift to his final resting place, and wrestled into the space (feet first within the coffin, leaving room for my mom to be installed later, head first), my mom invited everyone to lunch at the restaurant at the retirement community. She didn't weep. She barely shed a public tear. Although when it was just us, she kept repeating, I just want to go to sleep and never wake up. It was eerie. We'd already decided that we'd come back to Florida for my dad's birthday as planned, but she said it so many times, that once I said sharply, I can't bring the kids here in three weeks if you are going to say that.

I never once thought she'd act on it.

She did seem a bit lost, but this was a huge loss. It was going to be a massive life adjustment for her, but I assumed she'd grieve and then adjust. In the meantime, she admitted that my dad had taken over the bill paying and checkbook balancing because she just somehow didn't feel like doing it any more. Said with a little shrug.

So my brother got on her computer and set up online access to her bank accounts and bills so he could handle all that for her long distance. My brother loves to do that stuff. I was willing too, but happy to have him take it on. My mom never learned to drive a car, but she had a list of fellow residents who would drive you to doctors' appointments or the supermarket or the airport for fun money. The community had a bus that went to Publix three times a week, and a jitney to get you to the bus stop if you didn't feel like walking.

My mom still had lots of friends, many widowed and in the same boat, and she wouldn't have lacked for companionship. All my life people had fallen over themselves and each other trying to befriend her. I would say she had charisma, but she probably honestly earned all that love and loyalty. She was a good listener and she cared and remembered what people shared, and followed up and asked after them, and if that's not a shortcut to lifelong friends, I don't know what is.

Having said all this, I realize that I'm only just leading in to the story that I wanted to tell, the story of how my mom handled my dad's death, which is to say that she didn't. Because Neil has been away for a week, and being alone, even just temporarily, makes me think about my mom in the days after my dad died, makes me consider my life in those shoes and wonder how I'd handle it.

Grist for my next post. I bet I'll soon have you wishing I was back to whining about bead sales and Facebook and my frustrations with life as an artist. Wishing I'd tell you how I have two customers who haven't paid their bead bills, and how I'm still tidying up the mess with the missing mail, and how I'm tired of making beads but still obsessed with making them, and how I'm delighted with some of my new ones but still not selling many, and disgusted with some of my new ones that are just plain gruesome.

Or not.

I'm just trying to do the write thing.

Like my dad. Sort of.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

(William Wordsworth)