On The Blackwater

Musing on retirement, writing, puppies, and whatever else strikes my fancy

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Spending my life in 20-year increments: DC, Calif, Maine, & now in the BlueRidge Mountains of VA, where my YoChon, Sadie Mae, has started to blog...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Displacement Feelings

I can't put this into words as well as Colleen does, but this two-month time away has been illuminating in ways that were completely unexpected.

OK, retirement is something a person...or two persons...can totally invent. I'd envisioned myself in just the setting we put together, above a river, on acres of wooded land, with a gorgeous view of a sloping field of black Angus cattle across the river and the Blue Ridge Mountains beyond. We got comfortable and established a daily routine.

I get up early, let Sadie Mae (Yorkie mix) out, have my 2 cups of coffee along with steel-cut oats and yogurt while watching GMA. We mostly wear those light-weight jogging pants and large tee-shirts. Lunch time finds me out on the sunporch with a huge salad. Then it's power nap time.

Tuesdays are Bible Study days, then it is on to Kroger's for 5% off for seniors, double coupons.

Sounds boring? Even with Weds nights' choir practice? Sunday's church?

But here I am, still in Maine, no car while Dick drives over to his elderly uncle's farm to split wood for him, daughter Cathie drives up to Ashland to help her fellow clear his land before winter hits, teens are in school or job-training...with grown grandkids visiting, we've had 8 of us here at a time, sharing bathrooms, doing laundry, snacking at odd times, watching Sadie Mae encounter cats, which has never happened to her before.

All my carefully constructed routine...gone! I DO love giving my daughter this time with her new fellow. After 10.5 years of widowhood, Jason is a blessing in her life. I'm having a good time getting to know my grandkids again; I was up here when they were born and watched them grow up; now, they are nearly adults. Nearly.

Cathie grins and says: Mom, you've got us eating together around the dining room table! We haven't done that in years. So this, then, is a good thing that's happening. Still, I feel un-tethered, somewhat lost without my routine.

Years ago, grandparents moved in with their adult children and grandchildren. But I miss my quiet times, my time alone. My car!

Ideally, I'd hoped my daughter would move down to the Rocky Mt area, but now that she has met this darling fellow, that seems unlikely. So I'll gather up my belongings and we'll drive home next week. Back to my friends, back to my routine. But full of lobstah!!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Andy's Ashes

Finally, six years after his death while awaiting an organ transplant, we were able to place son Andy's Cremains (that's what they call them now, although we've been saying Andy's ashes) in the family plot at Fairmount Cemetery here in Maine.

His widow had told me they brought her someone else's ashes, which brought her to the edge, and somehow made it impossible for her to retrieve the correct urn. Since the owner of the funeral home is a dear friend of mine, I called him and his associate called back to say the ashes were LOST! But would I please pay the outstanding bill. HUH?

Waiting for my friend to return from vacation and call me, I had also talked to an attorney friend who suggested we get the funeral home to forgive the balance owed since they'd lost the cremains. As it turned out, they were NOT lost after all, but had gone into long-term storage. Whew!

Yesterday, with just our family standing there, we placed the cremains into the family plot, ordering a flat marker which will be put in this coming week. We said our final goodbye, reciting the 23rd psalm. Now there is a place for family to visit with Andy, to talk to him and tell his nieces and nephews, and their eventual families, about him.

Headstones were the original geneological accounts; I know there's a tendency to scatter ashes at sea or mountaintop. So be it. I needed this (brace for cliche') closure.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Hey, everybody, go see Mama Mia right away. We went yesterday, and it is a howl. We laughed and sang and laughed some more. If you are too young to remember ABBA, go anyway. Meryl Streep is perfect...that woman will be 60 next year...groan!...yet she's all energy and spandex and song.

Cathie and I already bought the soundtrack at Wallie World, and I plan to get the DVD when it comes out.

The storyline is this: a 20 year old girl brought up on a tiny Greek island by her mom (Streep) is getting married. She has never known who her father was, but finds her Mom's diary and there are 3 fellows she wrote about, one of whom may indeed be her father. So she invites all 3 to her wedding on the island.

Well (confession time!) as someone who was single in California during the flower-child times, who went disco dancing, who just had a great time for seven years between marriages, well... YEAH...dot-dot-dot!

I can't believe it actually opened here in Presque Isle, Maine, at the local theater. Everyone in the audience loved it. It was a rowdy crowd! We even took the teens, but we didn't explain it all. Actually, we didn't have to explain anything.

Colleen, if you are reading this in Floyd, get your Dancing Queen boots on and get ready!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Postcard from Maine

Hi, Amys...yeah, I miss everyone too. This is so strange, living in a huge old crumbling down farmhouse with two teens, my suddenly-fallen-in-love daughter, her fellow, and my husband, who had planned to spend his time flyfishing but the pouring rain just will not let up.

Wish we could send it down to you; I'll bet our lawn is nice and brown by now. Plus I finally got a rhubarb plant to grow at home, so that poor baby must be gone. I plan to bring one home from my daughter's huge bed of pie plants.

The dogs are doing fine; Sadie Mae had to get used to all the stairs, which scared her at first. She missed a step going up and rolled all the way down but didn't hurt anything but her pride. The Labs are both staying outdoors. My daughter's black Lab has cancer but doesn't show a sign of being slowed down, and he is such a sweet dog that she can't part with him at this point. AND she has 5 cats! Sadie Mae never encountered a cat before, so this has been interesting indeed. Watch the cat chase the dog!!

Meanwhile, I am reading lots and somehow have become the resident cook, so I went out and bought a large crockpot. Tonight, we had potato soup and toasted cheese sandwiches. Real gourmet stuff, right? I made a meatloaf the other night (in the oven) and the 2 Maine guys went bananas over it. I thought they might fight over the last piece, and I had none left for my fave, which is the cold meatloaf sandwich the next day!

If this cold rain ever stops, we'll get back to grilling, and I can turn that over to the guys, right?

Dick's family reunion is coming up this next weekend, but it is all the way down towards Orland, so long drive there, long drive back, then we cover the same ground at the end of the month. I wanted to just keep driving south, but he's determined...we'll see! My grandson Jessie and his fiancee' Jessica are due up here on the 17th, so at least I'll be able to visit with them.

And she and Cathie can take over some of the cooking chores.

Cathie & Anna & I are going to see Mama Mia on Monday, the day before Anna heads back to school and her BF starts a new job.

Well, enjoy the rain I'm sending to you. It comes complete with resident mosquitoes...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Book Review

Yes, I've actually had time to read. We've had steady pouring rain day after day, so I visited the bookstore and got Empire Falls by Richard Russo. You may have seen the 2-part cable movie, with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, but this book is SO much more, and one of those books full of humor and comments on relationships, families, secrets...plus being about small town Maine...that you hate to see it end.

Russo won the Pulitzer for this book, and it is just a wonderful read. In fact, it spoiled other authors' work for me as I pick up a book and then put it down, saying ARGHHH! It isn't Russo!

He has a new novel coming out this week (I believe it is called Bridge of Sighs) so I intend to pick that up on my next trek to B. Dalton's. BTW: it looks as if the independent bookstore that wanted me to read and sign has CLOSED! Timing is everything, I guess.

Ah well, we can't all be Richard Russo, can we? Empire Falls is out in paperback and probably is at the library, so go for it.