Epiphany

I haven’t shared yet what it was like to testify at the preliminary hearing connected with my brother’s murder.  Probably because I’ve been trying to figure it out for myself.

It was … I guess unbelievable is the best word to describe how it felt to sit about 20 feet from the man accused of killing my brother.  A brother I never knew.  At the risk of going all maudlin or melodramatic I need to say that I didn’t realize how much I would miss knowing John.  From everything I’ve learned about him it’s easy to see we’d have connected on many levels.  I believe the nerdy/geeky/sci fi gene exists!  It must be in our DNA!  All my brothers and my sister are smart and like sci fi, computers, etc.  Loving  sci fi came later in my life,  but I was one of those kids in school.  I was smarter than average, I wore glasses and I was uncomfortable in social situations.  Total nerd or as we’re often called today, geek.

Part of my testimony was to identify my mother’s handwriting and a photograph of her.  I was shown a signature on John’s birth certificate and another on his adoption papers and was asked whether I could identify the signatures as hers.  The surname was not one I’d known her by but I confirmed they were indeed her signature.  The deputy DA then asked if I had seen her signature growing up, probably to establish that I had credibility.  I assured him I had, on permission slips and report cards as well as notes for school absences.  There was no doubt the signatures were hers.

A little background here about the next part:  Prior to my traveling to California the DA’s office had asked for photographs of my mother.  I sent out a request to my brothers and sister since none of the few I had seemed useable.  I received back more than 25 photos, some of which I’d never seen before.  One in particular caught my attention.  In it Mom was wearing a sweatshirt with some words on it, sitting in a what appears to be a recliner and she was beaming.

B E A M I N G!!

I had never, ever seen her smile like that while I was growing up.  Sure, she’d smiled and laughed some but there was just something about this photo that expressed a JOY I’d never seen before.  I sent that one along with another that was a little clearer.

After identifying the signatures as hers, the deputy DA put up on the overhead projector the photo of Mom beaming and asked if I could identify the person in the photo.  I looked at the photo from my place on the stand and I felt myself beaming back at her even as I turned to face the deputy and said, “That’s my mom!”

I didn’t “get” the epiphany then, only hours – maybe days later.  I don’t recall exactly when I understood the feeling I had when I looked at her photo on the screen and grinned in response.  It was forgiveness.  Mine for her.  I’d thought that I had forgiven her years ago but apparently I hadn’t truly let it go.  Recognizing her joy, I was so glad that she had found that kind of happiness, and proud to claim her as my mom.

This is what joy looks like.

This is what joy looks like.

Dream Interpretation

I woke one morning recently out of one of those weird dreams.  You’ve probably had a similarly strange dream once upon a time.

First I was riding a bus with my husband.  We were trying to get to a carnival but the bus didn’t stop there.  Some guy climbed on, literally climbed over me to get to a seat on the other side!

Next we found ourselves parked on the outskirts of town (whatever town it was) and I found myself sitting high up in the air with no way down.  I’m not sure where I was but it felt like I was perched on the side of a semi trailer, only the trailer was MIA, it was just the frame.  Like I said, weird.

I don’t recall exactly how, but Hubs helped me down and we went inside a building I hadn’t noticed before.  I remember needing to pee but not wanting to use their bathroom.  I seem to recall there was a grocery store across some train tracks and I was making the case for heading over there.

Suddenly I was in a swimming pool but it wasn’t your usual swimming pool.  This one had stone walls, not the smooth concrete or whatever they use these days.  It was dark in the water but somehow I could still see the stone walls.

Someone was telling me that they couldn’t get a more accurate estimate of reaction time and I asked why.

“The monkeys don’t wait for the signal,” came the answer.
“The signal?”  Now I was really confused.  But then I saw this beak sitting on the bottom of the pool. Seriously, a beak.  It was huge … much larger than a normal beak (whatever normal is beak-wise). And I saw myself reach out and press down on it just like I knew what I was doing.  It quacked!  Only a little peep of a quack, barely audible which I figured was due to it being under water.

Movement caught my eye and I saw the monkeys, climbing up the sides of the pool.  I’m not sure how I knew they were monkeys, I couldn’t make out detail in the dark water but you know how you KNOW something in a dream?  I knew they were monkeys.

It was about this time that I realized I too was under water and had been for some time without breathing.  I started to feel panicky about needing air and swam for the surface.  It seemed just out of reach and I kept thinking if I could just take a breath I’d be fine, I’d make it to the top.  But I was afraid and tried to keep holding my breath while kicking toward the surface.  When I finally couldn’t wait any longer and gasped for air I woke up.

Wow.  That last bit doesn’t take a lot of interpretation does it?  Something’s making me feel smothered.  Hmm.

Who do I have to sleep with?

Today’s whine brought to you by:  Oh My Freaking God it’s Cold!! 

My most recent electric bill was $150.  That’s for one month y’all.  One.*  Granted, it’s an all electric house but we don’t do a lot of cooking and I can’t count the times I’ve come home to find the Hubs working away on his computer in a dark office.  Since it’s only the two of us we don’t use the dishwasher (maybe because it’s broken, but still) and we do a whole three loads of laundry every couple of weeks. 

That leaves the furnace.  I know it’s working because during the blackout I definitely noticed a difference without it.  Maybe I should say the furnace is running.  Working implies it’s actually heating the house.  You might think the house is cold because we keep the thermostat at 62 trying to save money.  You’d be wrong.  We had it set at 70 and even 72 and I still had to bundle into blankets while watching television!  They must have put newspaper in the walls for insulation. 

When we moved here our pellet stove went into storage; it was Spring after all.  Besides, after cramming three floors worth of stuff into the space of one there was no room for it.  That stove is still in storage.  Damn it.  Yeah, I know it wouldn’t have helped us during the blackout.  Pellet stoves have augers and fans and stuff that require electricity so without a generator we’d still have been freezing.  But it would help now.  We could have heat and lower our electric bill.  So what’s the problem?  Installation.  Finding a reputable installer.  Finding the funds to pay said reputable installer.  Finding the funds to pay for pellets.  Sigh. 

This dilemma made me think of the 1993 movie Indecent Proposal.  You know the one I mean?  Robert Redford sees Demi Moore and WANTS her bad.  She’s happily married to Woody Harrelson.  Redford’s rich.  He’ll pay the young couple $1 million if Demi will spend the night with him.  In 1993 I was still in my first, not-so-happy marriage and I would have jumped on that!  Now…well, no amount of money would entice me.  Have you seen Redford lately? 

But install my pellet stove and hmm….

* I realize others may have much higher electric bills and this whine is not meant to minimize their experience.  But this blog IS all about me after all 😉.

Ice Ice Bubbe

So.  This is how it ends.  I’m going to freeze to death in my pitch black bathroom. 

Four days earlier I was cruising around Pasadena with my brother.  The car windows were cranked ALL the way down and I was basking in the Southern California sunshine with the wind in my hair.  It was probably somewhere in the upper 60s temperature-wise and the sky held no trace of the infamous smog.  Perfection.  Especially when home was inundated with a snowstorm so severe my office didn’t open for business.  It takes a helluvalot for the Powers That Be to refuse to open the office.

I was in SoCal to testify at a preliminary hearing.  My part in the hearing finished earlier and we stuck around till the lunch break.  Now we’d escaped the courtroom and the press, and were trying to find our way back to my hotel.  I wasn’t too eager to give up the lovely ride so it didn’t phase me when we realized we were going to the wrong way and had to change direction. 

A few hours later we’d had lunch, met with the adopted sister of our brother and I’d been dropped at the airport two hours early.  To catch a flight which was soon running two hours late damn it.  I landed in Seattle in the wee hours to discover I was still dressed for sunshine and 60s while the temps there were 40s and the slush was ankle deep!  Harsh awakening.

Thursday the weather kept our office closed and I took pleasure in visualizing gnashing teeth in the home office.  About mid-morning we lost power, not something we expected in the “city”.  On our farm it was a given that we’d be without power at least once each winter, so we were a little better prepared.  In the new place, not so much.  I couldn’t find the oil lamps and we have only electric heat so that was going to be a challenge.  But hey, we had water!  Cold water, but still!  Our farm was on a well, when the power failed we’d have to haul water for every damn thing. 

Also, we use a MagicJack so with the power out and the computers down we had no land line.  Then our cell service also bit the dust and we had no way to check on other family members. 

The next couple of days passed in a dream-like state.  We took the dogs out to find somewhere safe to walk them and to get warm in the Suburban’s rockin’ heater.  Traffic lights worked in one block but not the next.  Broken tree limbs were strewn everywhere; some trees were even uprooted.  Fallen limbs had taken out fences, broken through roofs and littered the streets.  The storm’s devastation was frightening.  At night we’d huddle under a pile of comforters, both dogs and occasionally the cat adding to the body heat.  We were loath to start each day because it meant climbing out of cozy warmth into frigid air. 

Which brings us to Sunday.  Nature’s call this morning is impossible to ignore any longer and I grab a flashlight on my stumbling way to the bathroom.  I manage not to scream when I come in contact with the icy seat, take care of my business and prepare to exit.  The door will not open.  No five words have ever sounded so loud and ominous in my head.  I tried again, twisting the knob the other way.  No luck.  One more time I turn the knob and feel the internal workings snap free.  Uh oh.  Now I’m starting to freak a little and I begin yanking on the door while twisting the unresponsive knob.  And cursing loud enough to wake the dead, or in this case Hubs. 

He calms me down and goes in search of a tool or three to take off the doorknob.  I sit on the commode to wait.  My flashlight is fading and I turn it off to conserve battery life. 

So.  This is how it ends. 

Obviously it didn’t end that way; I’m here writing about it.  I hope it made the reader smile at least.  After the fact we found it pretty hilarious.

Who said it? – Update

“Moisturize me! Moisturize me!”

Extra points if you can also identify where  and when it was said.

🙂

This line was said by the character Cassandra, she was supposedly the last human alive – if you could call her “alive”.  I can’t adequately describe her appearance but imagine if you will someone being stretched on a rack until they are as thin as a piece of paper and only their face remains.  I tried to find an image to post but was unsuccessful.  That’s probably a good thing; I’d like to eat some breakfast and that would have put me off food for awhile.

Should you have any interest in seeing Cassandra for yourself, this was uttered in Season 1, Episode 2 of Doctor Who.

Thanks for playing!  Wish I had some lovely parting gifts!

The 1940s House

I’m not big on reality TV.  Truth be told, I’m not too big on reality either.   So when Hubs described The 1940s House (a BBC reality series from 2001) I was not exactly enthusiastic.  To be honest it sounded a little depressing … just what the doctor ordered, right?

I was hooked within the first half hour.  

Imagine you and your family travel back in time to 1939 London.  You and your husband share a lovely home with your daughter and two grandsons in a friendly neighborhood outside London proper.  In the evenings as you listen to the radio your husband smokes a cigar and plays with the grandchildren while you and your daughter knit or write letters.  Life is good. 

Then World War II begins and your world changes forever.

You must comply with the blackout every night.  This includes either hanging blackout curtains OVER EVERY WINDOW each evening before sundown or building blackout frames which can be fit snugly into the windows and removed every morning.  And remember not to open a door to the outside while lights are burning indoors! 

Also required was an air raid shelter and victory garden in your backyard.  The air raid shelter was delivered to your home in pieces and you had to put it together yourself, including digging a rectangular hole for it about 4 feet deep.  And you got to pay for this privilege!

Food is no longer abundant, hence your victory garden.  You can buy 4 ounces of ham each week, when it’s available.  Sugar and honey are in short supply.  You don’t know from one day to the next what the grocer’s shelves will hold.  Imagine doing laundry by hand in the kitchen sink with no soap!  Or bathing in mere inches of tepid water with no shampoo.  And forget about cleaning the floor.

I won’t recap the entire show, it’s much more impressive to experience it for yourself if it interests you.  I will say I was blown away by how genuine it was and how it impacted the Hymers family who participated.  Many times I found myself in tears – empathy for the women’s struggles, sorrow for the loss of life during actual war time, joyous when victory was announced. 

The series finished up by checking in with the family after they’d returned home and I was pleased to see the lessons the family took with them, including the children.  This article from prior to PBS’ airing of the show in the states describes it in a little more detail and also interviewed some of the family members again.  I loved seeing that the family was still positive about the experience. 

On one hand it was a fascinating look into life during WWII.  On the other, I’m sooooo glad I didn’t live it.  I am so grateful for my washing machine! 

And soap! 😀

 

Book Review – The Bean Trees

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

Disclaimer:  My blogging buddy Jo recently recommended a book which sounded intriguing and which gave me the idea to review the book I was reading at the time. 

Marietta “Taylor” Greer is the main character and quite a colorful young woman.  She’s unafraid of anything except being stuck in her home town in rural Kentucky.  When she packs up her used VW bug and heads east she leaves behind her mama, who will miss her but who is also happy to see her baby getting out of dodge (so to speak :)). 

On the way west Taylor has car problems in Oklahoma, and after having repairs made stops at the bar next to the garage to see what her last dollar will buy.  As she’s leaving, a woman follows her out and gives her a child.  No really, gives her a child. 

And that’s only Chapter 1! 

Supporting characters include Lou Ann, another young woman from Kentucky who fell in love with a rodeo man and moved with him to Tucson; Mattie, the owner of the Tucson tire place Taylor limps her car into with two flat tires; and Edna and Virgie, the girls’ elderly next door neighbors. 

Without giving too much away, Taylor learns about parenting and life on the job.  There’s so much meat here that I savored this book and made it last for over a week (I usually finish a book this size within a day or two).  The descriptions are rich and vibrant and made me almost want to visit the desert.  Taylor has a common sense attitude and a compassionate heart.  She learns that things aren’t always what the seem on the surface and you have to protect those you love.  

This is an excellent synopsis from the back cover:  “Hers (Taylor’s) is a story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places.” 

I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good character studies mixed with some humor and a touch of sadness. 

Let me know if you check it out (or if you’ve already read it).