Thursday, June 23, 2016

June 23, 2016: 20 years later

I just finished watching "Independence Day" on HBO.  I first saw this movie in 1996 when it had just come out.  Kevin wanted to go to the Almeda theater because it had the new stadium seating.

Kevin, his dad and I drove out to the Almeda theater.  We all loved science fiction.  The aliens were attacking earth.  The president's wife got fatally wounded.  The president acted like he really loved her and would miss her.

I realized at that moment that my husband would have been very happy if I died.  He didn't love me.  He wouldn't miss me.  It was quite a blow.  I knew my marriage was failing but the contrast with that portrayal of a happy marriage hurt me so much.  I cried from that moment on through the movie.  On the way home I sat in the back seat so I could cry.  When we got home, I got my car keys and drove to my friend, Susin's house.  I cried some more.  This was July 1996.

My husband told me he was looking for an apartment and would move out.  I told him that I would move out.  I knew I couldn't afford that big house.   I started looking.  He wanted to know the cost.  He said he could find cheaper apartments.  That was the last straw.  The next day I drove to my lawyer's office and signed the divorce papers.  They had already been drawn up but I hadn't been ready yet.

I served him the divorce papers myself.

I thought that I had found real love with Jim.  We were going to be married the rest of our lives.  Then he hurt me so badly, so much worse than my first husband had.

It's unbelievable to me that I still enjoy men's company.  I have a fence around my heart now.  I never want to get married again and chance more pain.  But, I don't want to be alone either.

Now,  I'm thinking of moving to Portland OR.  I'm flying out to visit Kevin there tomorrow.  I'll be looking at apartments, houses.  It will be a new life.  I have no one to share it with.  I can't afford to bring Bert with me.  It would necessitate a bigger place to live.

Another stage in life.  It may be the last new stage in my life.  I have no idea what the future holds.  Why bother thinking about the future?  Life can change totally at any moment.

Spinach Balls

I'm putting this on my blog so I can "pin it."  The original website's page had so many huge photos and the actual recipe was at the end of a bunch of writing that I thought this would be simpler.
(I copied and pasted from this website, deleting what I thought was unnecessary.)


Did I said that those cute spinach balls are actually easy to make ahead and freeze? I usually love to freeze those spinach balls on a plate covered with parchment paper leaving half thumb space between each to avoid them to stick together. After an hour they are hard enough to be transfer into an airtight plastic box  Honestly, I am not always defrosting the balls before baking. It works really well to bake them frozen – well, it took a wee bit longer to get crispy and hot – but works like a charm!  This store very well and I always have a batch in my freezer. Last time I served those as a last minute appetizer to some friends who pop up!

Spinach balls
  • 220 g fresh spinach leaves,, trimmed, washed - about 6 cups. It makes about 160g (2/3 cup) of cooked, squeezed and packed spinach
  • 3 eggs, size 6
  • 1/2 cup (60g) grated cheese - I used noble cheedar from Mainland
  • 1 cup (75g) panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs of your choice - I used coriander
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  2. Trim and wash the fresh spinach leaves.
  3. Place the leaves into a saucepan, add salt and cover with boiling water. Cover and set aside for 3 minutes.
  4. Rinse the spinach with cold tap water. Drain using your hands to squeeze all the remaining water. You should obtain about 2/3 cup (160g) of packed cooked spinach leaves. If you are using frozen spinach, defrost and measure this quantity.
  5. Place on a chop board and finely chop the cooked spinach. Transfer into a mixing bowl.
  6. Add eggs, cheese, herbs and panko gluten free crumbs. You can also add salt and pepper if your cheese is not very salty. I did not add salt.
  7. Combine with a spoon or your hands, until it forms a batter from which you are able to form balls with your hands.
  8. If too moist add slightly more crumb until easy to roll as ball with your hands palms.
  9. Place the balls on a non stick cookie tray covered with baking paper.
  10. Bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes or until golden on the top.
  11. Serve immediately or cold in lunchboxes.
  12. Serve with dips of your choice like pesto, hummus or homemade ketchup.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

June 4, 2016

This morning I woke up at 6:30 AM.  It's Saturday and I don't need to be awake yet.  Bad dreams woke me up.

It's 5 and one half years, why do I still dream of my old life?  Should I up my dose of antidepressants?  Or should I suffer through it?  If I suffer enough, will it go away?  That's my dilemma today.

Everyone I speak to tells me to get over it.  If it were easy, I'd be through with it by now.  My current problem started with Bert telling me something like - "but, you didn't love him."  He doesn't get it.  He seems to think that since I was so hurt, my loss wasn't that big.  He talks on and on about his dead wife.  I listen.  When I tried to share my feelings he doesn't listen

I could go back to my therapist, Stella.  She'd listen.  Maybe that's all I need.  But, first, I'm writing it down.  That might be enough.  It's worked in the past.   My poor blog has turned into a moaning and groaning story.  It started out as a way to share about what I make and how to make it.  I do keep making - it gives me purpose.

I wish I could get back to my "making" sharing blog writing.  There really is no going back.  Have to keep moving forward.

I think about moving to Portland.  Everything would be new to me.  No more places that hold so many memories.  Would that be what they call in AA as the "moving cure?"  Would I then dream about Houston and all the memories it holds?

It's been raining and flooding in Houston for months.  Perhaps the dreary weather is the cause or part of the cause of my somber feelings.  It does cause me anxiety worrying about my house flooding or being stranded somewhere with high water all around me.

Portland would be new.  I can't talk about moving to Portland either.  Bert asked me if I would take him along.  I can't afford to support him.  My money manager told me that I need to keep working and earning money; that it's too early for me to retire.  So, I can't afford him.  I like being with Bert most of the time.  I wish he would stop saying "I don't feel good" everyday.  It's his mantra.  Whenever he has to do anything, like bring in the groceries, he gets cranky and whiny.  It's getting old.  Of course, no one is perfect.  Soon he'll have teeth and a driver's license.  Hallelujah!  It's only taken 2 and 1/2 years to get him moving on it.  Now I'm trying to get him to find his wife's 401k.  He "thinks" that there is one.  Oh my!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

March 6, 2016: do tragedies get better?

I went to see a tragic play tonight - The Rabbit Hole.  A family is mourning the death of their 4 year old son.  The mother asks "do tragedies get better?"

From my experience I can say as time goes by I occasionally feel that I've put my personal tragedy in the past.  Last weekend I was happily enjoying San Antonio and I felt like I'd reached a milestone in recovery.  Then the memories came whipping right back around and slapped me in the face.

The tragedy has shaped the last 5 1/2 years of my life.  Only 4 1/2 more years and it will be 10 years - the length of time that I was happily married.  It only seems fair that by then I should be done with it.

No more "I'm NOT sorry for what I did" ringing in my ears.  That cruel betrayal on top of the horrific accident still seems unsurmountable to me right now.

I have gotten over the sounds and images from TIRR hospital.  It was a living nightmare being there. Then I'd come home and be aware of my mother's mind fading away.  I have succeeded in mellowing out those images,and it gives me hope.  I thought I would never stop reliving the daily horrors of seeing my husband in his pitiable condition at TIRR.

Now when I think of my past life, I remember lots of the good times we had together.  I remember the feeling of oneness with another person.  But, these nice memories come with the associated painful ones.  I remember the intense dislike and anger from the person I was once closest to.

As I write this I can see how I've progressed.  I truly believe that I will get past this tragedy.  It will always be an important part of the person that I have become.  I have been working hard on my recovery.  One day it will be just that - a part of me; not the definition of me.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

January 12, 2016: head hunting

It's the beginning of the Spring semester at Rice.  This means that I copy lots of books and make pdf's of them for the faculty's classes.  Last week I copied a few dozen chapters for Cymene.  It's a boring part of my job.  Sometimes I take a break at the copier and read some of the pages.

I read a chapter on the customs of a remote tribe in the Philippines.  The anthropologist questioned one of the tribal elders about head hunting.  The man said that when you are grieving, you hunt heads.  Of course, if a family member dies, you hunt someone down and chop off their head.  You toss the head into the jungle.  Poof, your grief has been dealt with!  He couldn't explain it.  It was so obvious to him. (See bottom of this post to read the excerpt from the book, Culture and Truth by Renato Rosaldo.)

When Marcos was making reforms in the Philippines he made it illegal to head hunt.  The tribe was at a loss to deal with the anger they felt when they were grieving.  They joined some missionary church to appease this grief.  Their purpose for joining was not to pray for the future safety  of their loved ones.  They took the "life after death" premise with the promise of heavenly rewards as a means to ease their grief and the anger that accompanies a loss.

Just think - when Jim had his accident,  I could have just hunted down somebody and chopped off his head.  The grief would have been gone.  I can't even imagine killing someone.  Plus, I am unable to fool myself into believing religious propaganda.  I wish I could.  Life would be so much easier.

A few months later, after Jim stabbed me in the back by proposing to a woman while married to me, I would have needed to chop off another head.  It felt to me as if he had died twice.

Instead I grieved.  I went to a psychologist for talk therapy and took antidepressants.

It's becoming more obvious to me why Jim acted as he did.  I guess I'm lucky that he wasn't able to chop off my head after he returned home from his months in the hospital.  He found another way to deal with his grief - find a scapegoat (me) and decide to "fall" in love with someone else.  It worked for him.

After his first post-accident love, Claudia, left him, he fell into love with a series of strippers.  After they left him, he found his old girlfriend through facebook, proposed and quickly married her.  An emotionally immature solution, to be sure, but it seems to be working for him.  His new wife appears to be happy, too.

I wished my grief could have ended so easily.  I don't feel angry at him.  He actually did me a favor.  I have a good life now - I worked at it.  I'm sure if I had to keep lifting him and his heavy wheelchair, my back would be in worse shape.  I have arthritis of the spine as a result of the loss of my left knee at an early age (and from growing older).  Plus, I don't have to go through my retirement funds by supporting him any more.

Life has gone on.  Sometimes I can't believe what happened to me in the past five years.  I used to wish for the good old days before November 2010.

I learned the hard way that marriage is not security against facing old age alone.

Now I am happy being unmarried.  It's a good feeling to be independent and in charge of my own life.  I wanted to go to Germany so I went.  I went on a cruise.  No need to get a husband to agree with me.  I wanted a small white poodle and I went out and got my little dog, Sweetsie.  I decorate my house however I want.  Right now it's with pink poodles and dolls.  My computer and desk are in the family room where I can also see the TV.  I keep sewing tools and some fabric near my recliner-with no one to criticize me.

I have a great companion to share life with.  I met my sweet Bert by contacting him through an online dating site.  We go to dinner together, attend plays, movies, etc.  We enjoy each other's company.
It's a good life.

An excerpt from the book, Culture and Truth by Rosaldo Renato:

  Introduction: Grief and a Head hunter's Rage  (p1-2)

If you ask an older Ilongot man of northern Luzon, Philippines, why he cuts off human heads, his answer is brief , and one on which no anthropologist can readily elaborate: He says that rage, born of grief, impels him to kill his fellow human beings. He claims that he needs a place "to carry his anger." The act of severing and tossing away the victim's head enables him, he says, to vent and, he hopes, throw away the anger of his bereavement. Although the an­thropologist' s job is to make other cultures intelligible, more questions fail to reveal any further explanation of this man's pithy statement. To him, grief, rage, and headhunting go together in a self-evident manner. Either you understand or you don't.
from p 4:
The force of the dilemma faced by the Ilongots eluded me at the time. Even when I correctly recorded their statements about grieving and the need to throw away their anger, I simply did not grasp the weight of their words. In  1974, for example, while Michelle Rosaldo and I were living among the Ilongots, a six-month-old baby died, probably of pneu­monia. That afternoon we visited the father and found him terribly stricken. "He was sobbing and staring through glazed and bloodshot eyes at the cotton blanket covering his baby."' The man suffered intensely, for this was the seventh child he had lost.
Just a few years before, three of his chil­dren had died , one after the other, in a  matter of days. At the time, the situation was murky as people present talked both about evangelical Christianity (the  possible  renunciation of taking heads) and their grudges against lowlanders (the contemplation of headhunting forays into the surrounding valleys).
Through subsequent days  and  weeks,  the  man's  grief moved him in a way I had not anticipated. Shortly after the baby's death, the father converted to evangelical  Christian­ity. Altogether too quick on the inference, I immediately con­cluded that the man believed that the new religion could somehow prevent further deaths in his family. When I spoke my mind  to an Ilongot  friend, he snapped at me, saying that "I had missed the point: what the man in fact sought in the new  religion  was not  the denial of our inevitable  deaths but a means of coping with his grief. With the advent of martial law, headhunting was out of the question as a means of vent­ ing his wrath and thereby lessening his grief. Were he to re­main in his Ilongot way of life, the pain of his sorrow would simply be too much to  bear."'  

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

December 30, 2015: The End and The Beginning

I think the hardest thing about losing someone is the loss of shared memories.  Some very good moments in my life happened with my husband who passed me by.  Remembering those times have been painful for me.  But, I now am taking personal ownership of those memories.

Yes, he was there but much more importantly, I was there!  I went on that trip to Rome. I bought the house I live in;  moved in, decorated and worked on it.  I escaped Hurricane Ike by going to Forth Worth.   I went on the cruise around Hawaii, the trips to Seattle, Victoria Island.  I OWN these memories.

It has been over 5 years now since my husband passed.  That's long enough.  I am now the sole owner of the memories of the life we shared.

I really miss my mother.  I lost her also.  She didn't choose to leave me and our shared moments behind.  Those memories feel different to me.  Remembering our times together make me feel wistful.

I long ago took ownership of any shared memories with my first husband.  It was difficult in the beginning.  We had 2 children together.  How could he abandon this life we had shared?  It took a few years but I took the sole possession of those memories.  I don't feel sad when I think of our years together.

Time really does heal our wounds.  It is a quickly disappearing commodity.  I don't intend to squander the time I have left.

A new year, 2016, is closing in- another time begins.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

September 26, 2015: getting rid of some of the past

My favorite cartoon character has always been Pepe LePew.  I loved how he would hop to chase Penelope the cat.

When I was dating the shithead, previously known as Jim, we would shop a lot together.  I was enjoying the freedom of being single and having the ability to buy whatever I wanted.  There was a Warner Brothers Store in the Galleria.  We'd go there and I'd buy more Catwoman stuff for my collection. The store also carried Pepe LePew.

It seemed to suit Jim and me perfectly.  He was Pepe and I was Penelope.  So, that started my Pepe collection.  We even had a Pepe and Penelope wedding cake topper and champagne flutes.

But then came Jim's accident and all the traumas that went with it.  I lost him a second time when he came home from the hospital and started hating me.  I feel like my heart is so scarred from these events.

I've been working hard at cutting away at the scar tissue.  Today I was able to get rid of some more.  I sold almost my entire Pepe and Penelope collection this morning.  I met a man who collected and sold memorabilia.  We agreed on $60.00 for the whole lot.  I threw in about 15 teapots as well.

Tonight I'll take Bert out to dinner with the money from the sale.

I've been having what I call "waves of sadness" for the past couple days.  After the divorce I packed the Pepe stuff into boxes and stored them in the laundry room.  I guess dragging it all out again brought up memories.

I wish there was a magic pill to erase the tragedies from my mind.  I would have to erase the good memories, too.  Jim and I had a wonderful 10 or so years together.  But those good memories bring up the horrible ones along with them.

I keep on working at my new life.  Eventually, the memories will fade away.  I don't even feel the pain anymore from the dissolution of my first marriage and that lasted for 23 years!

This, too, will pass.