Sunday, November 25, 2007


I see that it is a month to Christmas and though I don't believe in rushing around and spending time and money on stuff that my family and friends may or may not appreciate, I am dreaming of ways to express my love. I did write a story once on gift-giving that I may publish later this week.

On Thursday evening, Rob returned from France. As he came through the customs doors, I nearly didn't recognize him. His hair was longer and darker than I remember. He looked younger, happier, more spry. These separations (he's been gone for nearly two months) work well for us. I miss him certainly but I have time to think of him as other (in D. H. Lawrence terms) and I like this other. I have time to think about me, not in relation to other.

Rob loves living in France as much as I do. He is excited about the renovation and has brought short videos back, showing walls removed, chimneys gone, cheap fixtures no longer standing uglifying our beautiful 13th century home. Though he is frustrated with his French, he can see retiring (as soon as possible) to this lush land.

On Friday, I went with my sister - the one whose husband locked her out - to see her divorce lawyer. She warned me that the lawyer is a force to be reckoned with - and wished she didn't have to. (Again I cannot speak openly about what transpired in a public forum but I did learn a lot about divorce.)

It makes me angry. You have two people who once upon a time - and in my sister's case, not so long ago, swore to love each other forever. They find that they cannot do this and so agree to part. I think it should be easy. The wife says "I brought this into relationship so I shall take it away." The husband says the same. There is a pile of stuff that they bought together. The stuff that one doesn't care about is easy to divide. The stuff that they both want? Well perhaps they should flip a coin. Or take turns... When they finally part, the ideal would be that they remain friends. Or at least send Christmas cards.

When one hires a lawyer, the other is forced to hire a lawyer. And what follows is all about money. The personal, the mementoes - even if they are from one's former life - will have to be fought for and the battle will cost. If you move out or are locked out, and you want your stuff - even your favourite toothbrush - you have to have to ask your lawyer to contact his lawyer and the paperwork costs money... and on and on it goes.

My sister's lawyer is tough. She doesn't care about the personal - or doesn't seem to. She said "you married him and you have to pay the price." She has sat through hundreds, maybe thousands of courtroom dramas and knows that the best woman doesn't always win. How much do you have? What are the joint assets worth? The legal battle could eat up anything you stand to win. Do you want to give up something you want to minimize the time spent agonizing and save some money? All this creates pain and suffering and anger - lots of anger.

My sister is angry. She feels a fool. She should have known better than to marry the guy. I try to reassure her. A lot of smart women do stupid things for love and lust. I mention Pam Houston's book "Cowboys are my Weakness." At a speaking event after the book was released, one angry feminist spoke up and asked why she had strong women succumb to the charms of weak men."Do you think this happens often?" she asked (or something to that effect.) Houston said the question didn't deserve a reply.

Everyone of us has made ourselves vulnerable at one time or another. Why are we so hard on ourselves? We are all human. (I tend to say the obvious at times... and it's easy to speak up and see clearly when one isn't the one who has been wounded.)

Most of the time, I stay at home. I'm in design mode... and getting used to having my guy around. And have lots of secret projects, including my novel, to keep me busy over the next month. And my daughter will return on the 20th of December and I'm smiling already... so there is much that is good and happy happening - even for my sister who was locked out of her house - but that's another story. I continue to learn what is possible in this wild and crazy world.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


It's my sister's birthday today and I love her. She's had a rough time lately and needs to know she is loved. She wants to hear the words. She wants an ear that listens to her. She wants company for the fun times. She wants company for the sad times. And she wants a birthday party. So I'm giving one. I've made manicotti (even the pasta.) I have baked and decorated a cake (insert.) I'm making Italian meatballs. I've made a birthday card. And I'm going a little crazy because I want all perfect. I still have to vacuum, clean bathrooms, iron a tablecloth before the guests arrive at three. And yes, I mustn't forget to shower and dress. And blow up balloons. I wish Rob were here but he's home this Thursday.


Maggie's Birthday

Flowers from my Baby

Flowers from my Baby

Gilly sent me a beautiful poinsetta with a loving card this week - a thank you from her because I checked a couple of essays for her and made suggestions. And this woman of mine knows that editing takes time. It's good to be appreciated. And wonderful, to be loved as she loves me.

I find it difficult to use the word "love" on this blog. I prefer to show not tell (and perhaps I've done that too) but for some strange reason I'm consumed with love these days. I'll speak more on this when I have time.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


A Northern Irish Friend's Birthday

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I try and I try and I try... I descended into November with a mysterious pain in my foot that sent me to my doctor who sent me to a specialist. Both are mystified. There is no bruising, no swelling. Now my leg hurts. I went for x-rays this morning. I stopped in and saw my doctor. Perhaps the sore foot put pressure on the leg muscles, she guesses. "We'll know more once we see the x-ray results." This could take another three or four days.

Because my leg aches when I walk, I'm not walking much. On the happy end of the spectrum, this means I've been laying low, writing and teaching myself web design.

Living alone in a house that's just under 2000 sq ft that worked well for raising three children that is luxurious when two of us are present, now feels superfluous. And another mystery - though I can work wherever I want without interruption, I still prefer my little house in the garden (though I have not been hobbling down there.)I feel safe there, freer - the internal censors don't visit as often.

Meanwhile over the ocean, Rob has been attempting to live in our 800 year old house without central heating. He said one day the ground level was 1 degree so he sits by the wood burning stove and plugs in an electric heater on the first floor and writes his novel and prepares for the grand renovation that has been delayed one week. Yesterday a friend who left for Zurich lent him her oil-heated house. At last he is comfortable.


I went out to dinner last night with two sisters and one sister's sister-in-law who feels like a fifth sister - in a small, very small Italian restaurant - sparsely decorated, few pictures, stark lighting, food verging on excellent but not quite, expensive by my standards. We sat talking about dancing as we had just finished our 6 week Salsa instruction and had had so much fun, we though we might as well broaden our horizons further and learn another style. We decided giggling (oh yes, such a silly word to use for grown women but that's what we were doing) that we would attempt pole dancing next.

And then we spoke of names. Disaster. One sister has changed her name from Donna to Maggie. We sometimes call her Madonna but all of us are forever slipping and calling her by her old name. The thing is that we all thought - though she has denied it a hundred times - that it was the man who locked her out of her home who was responsible for "Maggie". I should note that her middle name is Margaret. She was named after our maternal grandmother. I am called by my middle name. Why not her? Maggie explained yet another time that she loves her grandmother's name. She hates her original name. It is too plain, too ordinary. (I disagree. I like the name Donna but I don't own it.) It is her desire to be called "Maggie." How many times does she have to tell us? She'll accept Donna but she doesn't like it. My other blood sister explained why she assumed it was the man who changed her name. Maggie, in a rage of frustration, stood and said "Why can't you call me by the name I want to be called? I'm leaving."

My heart went out to her. I stood and wrapped my arms around her. "You've got through to us," I told her. "Finally, I understand. Let's step outside for a minute."

We talked outside. Maggie is really really upset. She doesn't understand why it is so difficult for those she loves to listen to her. I said that it is always the hardest with family. I have known her from birth. I see her as my baby sister, an annoying teenager and all the women she has grown into since her beginning. When someone says "Donna" I think of her. But I see here that it doesn't matter what I think. "That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet."

The waiter came out and told us that our dinner were on the table. We went inside and ate. But the emotion had taken all of Maggie's energy. And her baby sister, sitting beside her, was also in tears as she knew she had upset Maggie.

I have hope. I think that last night was a turning point. I know that I will try harder to call her Maggie. I think our baby sister will try harder too.

As I tell this story, I keep thinking of Saint Teresa who when she was among a close circle of friends would say "disillusion me with truth." Why am I thinking this? We all hold our own vision or idea of who we are in our head and hearts. Sometimes that image is disturbed. We have to be prepared to reassemble. I think for all my family, the way the new name was introduced made us obstinate. We have been unkind. And we are especially unkind right now as Maggie is vulnerable. No, we would not intentionally hurt her but we have.


I must add a footnote to this story. Maggie just called and said that one gift that the man who locked her out of house gave her - and he did give her some fine gifts - was the courage to change her name.