The coolest me I can be.

12 Mar

The coolest me I can be.

In my youth I NEVER worried about who I might be or what I planned to do with my life. The answer shown like a beacon. Grow up. Leave my father’s house. Become a bride. Move into someone else’s house. Have children. Make sure they were happy and not afraid. Try to make sure they remember their childhood as carefree and loving and just plain fun.

That picture of the perfect family grew strong in me. It settled in my mind, I recognized it. Knew the edges of the scene, imagined colors and dialogue and kisses and hugs. And almost all of it came true. I created it in my mind first. Then I set out to make sure it really happened in real time. Of course this did involve a certain amount of manipulation and intrigue. And sometimes a stark reality would fall and hit me on the head with real force. Most of the time I could avoid seeing the parts I did not like. I ignored what did not fit the photo in my mind. And that amounted to quite a lot. Oblivious does not quite describe me, yet it seemed as if those parts were “greyed out” like words on a computer screen tool bar that cannot be “clicked upon”. They were there but not to be entered. Intrusions included extra people for dinner, a trip to the emergency room for one of us or the children, a litter of puppies, or a possible change in staff. I could handle any of that with ease.

What it did not include was introspection and inner work which might entail turning over a few rocks to look underneath. MY clothes were important, my shoes were lovely and often uncomfortable. My help at home was constant. Our nanny, Lucy never took a day off except for every 6 weeks when she would go home to Charlottesville, for a long weekend. SO I was covered, and never had to take full time care of my children. At night I was free to go out with my husband and never had to skip a party because the baby sitter did not show up. I felt 100% entitled to this freedom. It was deserved and expected. And what others might be going through, never really applied to me. I missed it, completely that we were not the norm.

But something felt wrong, or unfinished, or ragged underneath, like a tiny stone in my shoe. It was often not apparent, and even when it was it was so off to the side, I rarely confronted anything unpleasant At moments when I least expected it the things that were wrong and felt horrible struck and shattered my precious “picture”. So I went to great lengths to repair it and even greater lengths to hide the damage. That was not cool. I was not cool. I was a quivering bowl of jelly inside.

Now, I am waaaay cool. Even though heavier than I have ever been, and certainly older than I have ever been, I feel cool. And that is because I am a writer and author. And I am going to pursue this avocation with all that I have. There is no other thing taking up my time. Mother though constantly there, is not really an onerous burden because there is so much help with her care. Much of my job is keeping the roof from leaking the, walls from flaking and falling in, the pipes from freezing and all the other little items necessary to keeping this place solid for the next few years.

So I do all that, and I write. I entertain mother, and I write. I try to keep the staff healthy and happy and I write. And myself, I try to keep me healthy too. and I write. The writing part has become a constant. Before I only wrote now and then. When the mood struck me I would write feverishly, but often it did not amount to more than a few words, 500 being a lot of words for me. Now I realize that 500 words is just a warm up. Like the first quarter mile of a 3 mile work out. But this new habit of daily writing is most satisfying because it has given me a body of work. It is real. I can look it up. And if I were more organized I would figure out a way to find it again.

That would be the coolest me. An organized me.

Anniversary of the Last Supper (in my house) 2017

1 Feb

Anniversary of the Last Supper (in my house) 2017

It is hard to believe how many changes have occurred in the last year. Now I live in Washington DC with my 99 year old Mother. But a year ago I still had a home of my own.

I had a dinner party for my 75th birthday in January 2017. I had 34 people for dinner (and only seating for 30) My two wonderful sons in law sat in the library and watched football because there was no room for them at either table. But I barely knew about that until later. One of my sons had come with his son to wish me a happy birthday, but went home before dinner. All the others were seated at 2 tables. The big table in my dining room had 17 people squeezed together.  And at a table for 10 in my living room I managed to put another 13 people. The food was super and I had spent money on a bar tender and cook so that made things easier. Or it should have. But the cook was very late with dinner because she did not understand exactly how I managed to cook a dinner like that with only one oven. It all worked out though. She finally got it all done using the microwave, the toaster oven and all the burners on my stove along with a rice cooker. It was all simply delicious and everyone loved it.

I don’t have time to describe the food, and the dishes, and table decorations, but they were lovely. The whole party was just perfect. And then suddenly one of my guests had a fainting spell. 911 was called and I did not even know that this had happened until the rescue squad arrived. I think there were 6 men in florescent vests in my living room and an ambulance and a firetruck in my driveway. Oh well. She was fine. She refused to be taken to the hospital, insisting that this happened now and then. It really did NOT dampen my party at all. She stayed and everyone else just had another drink.

What is especially ironic about that party is that unbeknownst to me, it was my last party in that house in Charlottesville. Two days later I fell as I was walking along a flagstone path and broke my ankle. I spent one night alone in that house with my dogs and realized that I could not live there with a broken leg. I got driven up to Washington the next day and never came back to that house until a brief stay in April. or May. Then I was able to spend the month of July there, but the kitchen floor was all torn up due to leaking dishwasher and I never had a party again. Moved out by the following November 30th. All gone. Sad to leave that house but what a lovely memory that last dinner party was for me.

And when I moved out, I gave away all of my possessions to my children and grandchildren. SO I cannot have another dinner party like that, with those exact things ever again. It was a nice finale to that phase of my life. Now I am more or less unencumbered. And I have determined to remake myself and become the healthiest, fittest person I can be. 

One of the scariest and best things I have ever done.

22 Dec

“Oh my! No time to pour my heart out. It overflows already as I go through the leftover possessions, photos, files, clothes, and everything in every drawer of my large house. I am leaving.
It is wrenching, but worth it. A new life beckons even though I will be living in my mother’s house and not my own. Even though I have no paying job at the moment. Still, I am elated with the innumerable opportunities available to me!”

I wrote these words in the midst of my move and you can hear the anguish and tension along with the hopeful quality which made it possible to do this with so little forethought.

And the results have been positive beyond belief. First of all I am happy. I am happy in my newly painted, robin’s egg blue room. Some of my favorite small things have found a resting place here. My vermeil dresser set which belonged to my grandmother Lilla Youngblood Buchanan sits atop the dresser. Along with many of my clothes, this piece of furniture holds my necessary accessories such as gloves, and headbands, jeweled hair clips and small scarves and sachets and some simple jewelry and broken treasures not yet repaired. There is a photograph of the pear trees at Heathfield before they came down. I will share that story at a future date. A great lesson which I remember every time I look at that photo. There is a cup, hard-painted by Jules Fritz who used to be the gardener here when I was a little girl. It has my name and his and the date Xmas 1949. This is one of my most cherished possessions.

Several favorite lamps illuminate the space with various amounts of wattage. Sometimes I write with only romantic low lighting surrounding me. Other times I use the brightest setting to distinguish one set of black trousers from another, ditto black turtle necks. Light comes in very handy in those instances.

People who wear a great deal of black will understand.


Mostly this room is a happy place where I play my own music. I sit with and cuddle my long haired, black and tan dachshund Magnus. We both enjoy this. Sometimes I open the doors to my balcony and let Magnus go outside and sun himself while I read or write. He lets me know if anyone approaches the house. I have plenty of free time here in my upper story lair at the opposite end of the house from my mothers room.

If you must caretake for an older parent, be sure you have an area in which to retreat and gather new energy. Rebooting, I call it. And just as it helps your phone or computer, it will help you, too.

These days I take time for myself and I meditate. Meditation has changed my life. It has changed me. The idea is to never skip a day. And it is rare that I do. Even a few minutes can make a huge difference in my day. In fact, I am going to go find a quiet spot in which to meditate right now.

December 21st 2017