Ob-La-Di, Ob-la-da

Joel and I had a great time Christmas shopping this evening. I have only one more trip to make and I’ll be finished. Tomorrow afternoon I’m taking the kids out to get gifts for their mom and I’m mailing the presents Joel and I got for Micah. (Did you read that Micah? They may be a little late, but they’ll be on their way tomorrow.)

After shopping we went to Carl’s Junior, where we ate burgers and talked about Mom’s death. That may sound negative, but it was really very positive. It felt good to talk about her with some who, like myself, has known her as long as they’ve been alive. When we got home Nettl, the kids, and I settled in our room to watch A Christmas Story, one of our favorite holiday movies. Life is getting back to normal however much I’m still trying to adjust within myself. Mom’s stocking is still hanging on our fireplace mantle; I can’t bring myself to take it down. Not yet.

I wrapped more presents and put them under the tree after everyone went to bed, and here I am waiting for the snow we’ve been promised. There’s a howling wind outside and the decorations in the yard across the street have blown over. Wish my cheap-ass digital camera hadn’t died on me a few months ago.

I want to personally thank everyone who has emailed me with condolences, or who has offered their generous help when things got so scary. That’s more than my damned family has done. All I have left is an aunt, uncle and three cousins in Florida, and an older brother who hasn’t bothered to contact us since Mom moved here in 2000. The former hasn’t even sent a card and the latter doesn’t know if his mother is dead or alive. Nor does he care. I’m not surprised though. Good riddance.

Anyway, thank you so much. Your love and compassion have moved me deeply and I’m at a loss to express my appreciation for your friendship.

And to the person (who shall remain nameless because) who left their cruel and insensitive comment which I deleted: Blow me.


Just a Normal Day, Considering

What a blessed thing it is to have a simple, normal day at last. No business to take care of, no meetings to attend, no huge decisions to make, no crises to resolve. Just a day. When I awoke I poured my coffee, opened my newspaper and turned on West Wing. Then I wrapped a couple of gifts, emptied the trash, and sat down at my computer. I have not made the bed. I have not showered. I have not even dressed. The wind outside is slowly blowing in a storm that may deliver us 1 to 3 inches of snow by tomorrow morning. I finally have the luxury of exhaling.

The mess at the bank was the bank’s fault. Yesterday, Nettl went in, raised holy hell, and they lifted the freeze on our account, repaying us the $945 they took from us with no warning or notice of any kind. Don’t you think that would be bad enough to happen to a family? But to do this two days after a mother’s death, and at Christmastime is reprehensible. The woman responsible made a unilateral decision about whether the Social Security check that was deposited the day before my mother died was for November or December, and was incorrect. It was for November. Nettl told her that that decision was the government’s to make, not hers. After all this has blown over and we’re not so worn out with grief and worry we’re changing banks. This is not the first time, but the third, that they’ve screwed us over.

So we all went out for Chinese last night.

I don’t remember the last time I felt so small. I feel like a shadow that’s about to disappear. It will pass, however, and I have so many good things to look forward to in the coming year.

I think my mother came to me in a dream last night. She was well, looked good, and was trying to convince me she wasn’t dead at all—which I believe because of my spiritual convictions. I slept well for the first time in two weeks and awoke without the cloud over my head that has enshrouded me every morning as soon as waking consciousness enters my brain. I’m still sad, of course. That will take a little while.

Right now, the best Christmas present in the world would be to be sent to a quiet place like Colorado for a week, no people, no telly, no demands, no input, and no need to “keep a happy face” so as to not bother other people with my grief. Just silently falling snow, wind in the treetops, and lots of writing supplies.

Why is it that the grieving person must always console those who voice their condolences to them? Why must we say, “I’m alright. It’s hard right now, but it’ll get better soon” when we want to say, “It’s not alright. I’m falling apart at the seams and don’t have the time or solitude it takes to put myself back together.” I feel orphaned by my parents, abandoned by what remaining family I have, and I’m pissed as hell that after I gave up my career in my prime and spent the past 13 years taking care of my aging, ill, and dying parents, neither of them left me with so much as simple, cheap, burial insurance. I feel betrayed and used.

Ah well, who wants to hear all this, especially now that the holidays are upon us? At least the roller coaster ride is over and my household can now move into Christmas without the financial worry that flattened our spirits last week. I still have a bit of shopping to do (I prefer to wait until the last minute, although I make my list out rather early), and if we get snow, that’ll really put me in the holiday spirit. All I really have to do is put on Paul McCartney’s Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime. That always does it.



My mother died two weeks ago,
She had no time to let us know;
She left while watching Lawrence Welk,
I wonder how the hell that felt.
Dishwasher broke, Christmas lights went out,
Bath tub spewed the room about;
Cable failed and flusher broke,
Must now drink Sam’s, cannot buy Coke...


Don't Even Know What to Name This

I’ve dealt with a lot of death in my adult life. I lost a couple of friends in Vietnam during the late Sixties, I was widowed at the age of 18 when my son, Joel, was only two weeks old. I lost a friend in a car accident when we were only 20 and I lost another friend who died of cancer at the age of 23 when her baby was only months old. Grandparents, of course, died at different times and a dear friend in England died in the late Eighties of chronic asthma. I took care of my father the last year of his life, and was there with him when he died in 1993. I lost my musical mentor — a death I’ve still not fully accepted — in 2000. A very close friend died of AIDS in 2001, followed not long after by his partner. Another friend died a few months later. An online friend died this year in a riding accident, and though we were never friends, the deaths of John Lennon and George Harrison affected me very strongly. Now that the worst shock of my mother’s death on Saturday night has given way to a kind of vulnerable numbness, I find that I’m very philosophical about death. Actually, I don’t believe in death. Energy has been, is, and will always be. It cannot be destroyed, but merely transmutes into some other form. When our bodies die, the energy that I believe is our essence, or soul, continues, but no longer in its previous form. Science has proven that energy cannot be unmade.

I felt my mother’s presence all Saturday night. Odd things happened with our lights and cable, but only in certain areas of the house. The cable went out in her room, but nowhere else and the Christmas lights went out for no apparent reason. Everything’s working now.

Today (Sunday) has been a day of phone calls to, and from, my mother’s friends across the country, a meeting at the funeral home, and grappling with the new reality that has been thrust upon us. Our good friend, Allen Scott, came by this afternoon with freshly baked focaccia and a bottle of an excellent pinot noir. We sat and talked together for about an hour, and he left. It was wonderful because he’s a professor of music history at OSU and I was able to get my mind off of things for a while and onto local faculty gossip.

I took a nap and was sleeping really soundly until the phone rang about an hour or so ago. It was a call I wouldn’t have missed for the world: it was my youngest son. We haven’t spoken in a long time; it simply made my heart soar.

There are a million things going on in my head, and a million details that have to be attended to. We have guests coming throughout the month (a godsend, really), and a friend is staying with us until he can find an apartment. Then there’s Christmas expenses and funeral and burial expenses — my mother had no insurance of any kind, and no money except her Social Security, which she donated toward the rent. Fortunately, December’s rent has been paid, but I’m stressing out over January. We are a family of six and there’s far too much to attend to right now. Too, there is the strain of keeping life in our home as calm as possible for the kids’ sake.

But most importantly, I’m dealing with the death of my mother, a woman with whom I sometimes shared a troubled but deeply connected relationship. We had some great times when we were younger, traveling together across the country to visit various family friends. Despite some of the trouble we experienced in the past, I came to love her and understand her in a very special way while taking care of her, especially since the illness that nearly killed her a couple of years ago. I was finally able to see that her physical abuse and emotional neglect of me during my childhood was due to her own painful upbringing. It must have been horribly traumatic for her at the age of 14 to have witnessed her own mother’s suicide by ingesting strychnine. And then to overhear her adult siblings argue about who was going to take her in because none of them, and not even her own father, wanted her. Add to that the sexual abuse she endured when her grandfather agreed to take her, and I began to understand why she had such a difficult time being a mother herself. When her older sister committed suicide in the early Fifties it was almost more than my mother could bear. I forgave her long ago and we had learned to enjoy one another’s company over coffee every morning. Sure, a semi-invalid elderly parent living in the home is difficult, but we always worked through those things, and caring for her lovingly and tenderly became the norm for both Lynette and I. My mother loved the kids and the youth and vibrancy they’ve brought into our home. I’m so happy now that the last year of her life was filled with the sound of laughter and an atmosphere of love.

I’m confident in my beliefs about death and I take comfort in believing my mother is enjoying her reunion with my dad, her mother, and her friends that have passed over in the last few years. It’s just all the business and arrangements that are daunting.


My Mummy's Dead

At around 10:00 pm last night my mother died, a completely unexpected thing. As some of you know, she came to live with us after a stroke in 2000 and I’ve been a stay-at-home caretaker. This is such a shock. Turns out she had a coronary blockage that just finally caused a massive heart attack -- and only eight hours ago. Just Thursday morning we were having coffee together in the living room and talking about what she wanted to get the kids for Christmas. I’m in shock right now and probably won’t write for a few days.


10 Things I Learned This Weekend

1. Never get excited about anything. It jinxes it. Every damned time.
2. Never spend two weeks cleaning, decorating, buying and preparing for something you’re looking forward to.
3. Never break a toe while preparing for something you’re looking forward to and then ignore it.
4. Never allow the landlord to mow the entire neighborhood on your behalf after mowing season is over.
5. Never tell your friends about something that’s going to happen until it has already happened.
6. Never answer the phone when your gut tells you it’s bad news.
7. Never eat half a block of Munster cheese when you’re depressed.
8. If you experience a bitter disappointment, make sure you have plenty of wine in the fridge.
9. Remember that after you’ve taken a few long naps and drunk a few glasses of wine things will look a bit better and you’ll realize that because what you’d been looking forward to didn’t happen when it was supposed to, you can now look forward to it all over again.
10. Breathe.


Autumn's Advent

This is the perfect time of year. I can drink wine on the front porch in the evenings without getting tortured by mosquitoes, and I can enjoy my morning coffee on the lanai without sweltering. Of course, in a few weeks It’ll be too cold to sit outside, but I enjoy winter, too... from the comfort of a window as I look out at the snow. I’m especially looking forward to this year’s first snow. Our bedroom bay window has a built-in window seat and overlooks some rolling ranch land pastures that remind me a lot of England...


I Thought I'd Forgotten How to Enjoy It!

It has been so long since I sat down at the piano just to play. Not to compose, not to practice the Hanon Scales, not to struggle and sweat over new pieces. Today, I actually sat down, opened up a sonata book and played some Beethoven and Mozart just for the hell of it. I was surprised, really. I played as badly as I ever have...


OSU Homecoming

Living in a university town, one quickly grows acclimated to the rhythm of the seasons. I’m not speaking of the earth’s seasons, but of the academic seasons...


Welcome to the Beat Cafe

I just had a nice online chat with our friend, George, who has recently relocated to Charleston. I’m suddenly reminded that I neglected to tell you about the CD I received in the mail from him and Noelle last Friday. It was a birthday gift. Do my friends know me, or what? The CD is Donovan’s latest, Beat Cafe...


Bad English #2

  • There is no U in similar. It’s pronounced sim-i-lar, not sim-u-lar.
  • Similarly, there is no second U in nuclear. It’s pronounced nu-cle-ar, not nu-cu-lar.
  • One would like to remind our country’s highest leader of this.
  • There is no LA in REALTOR. It’s pronounced re-al-tor, not re-la-tor. Likewise, it’s REAL estate, not RE-la-state.
  • The word, jewelry is pronounced jew-el-ry, not jew-ler-y.
  • The word, ask is not pronounced ax.
  • Ca-val-ry is a military term whereas Cal-va-ry is religious. The Calvary did not charge the fort any more than Jesus died at cavalry.
  • Eyes become di-la-ted, not di-a-la-ted.
  • We do not have a ways to go, we have a way to go.
  • And while you’re on your way, go to Ti-jua-na, not Ti-a-jua-na.
  • A beautifully shaped woman is vo-lup-tu-ous, not vo-lump-tu-ous.
  • We sup-pos-ed-ly know our native language, not sup-pos-ab-ly.
  • I like sher-bet, not sher-bert.
  • Punctuation is a whole other issue, not a whole nother one.
  • I put may-on-naise on my sandwiches, not man-naise.
  • The color, mauve is pronounced mowve, not mawve or mu-awve.
  • A child is mis-chie-vous, not mis-chie-vi-ous.
  • It’s regardless, not irregardless.
  • Coffeehouses sell espresso, not expresso.
  • That silver sticky stuff is duct tape, not duck tape.
  • One goes a-cross the street, not a-crost.
  • The man had a heart at-tack, not a heart at-tact.
  • You couldn’t care less, not could care less.
  • You have another think coming, not another thing.


Page Not Found

If you’ve tried to find me the past couple of days and was confronted with the dreaded “Page Not Found” it’s because my host was having a little trouble figuring out my new address and who-knows-what-else. All the same, I’m back, but I’m seriously considering finding a new host...


An Easy Sunday

This has been a really nice day. I awoke after a great night’s sleep, then enjoyed my coffee in the living room whilst working the Sunday crossword as Nettl and the girls talked and looked through the paper’s inserts in front of our fireplace. Well, it’s not really a fireplace. It looks like one, but upon very close inspection it reveals itself as a “special effects” fireplace, completely electric, with flames made by rotating lights…or something. Joel calls it the Disney fireplace because it looks like the fire in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. I call it the Disco Ball fireplace because in about 15  years it will go the way of those Venus drip lamps of the 1970s...



I thought that once we got moved in and life got back to normal I’d quit being tired. No, not tired, dragged out. I haven’t had a lick of energy for a week now and all I want to do is watch telly and nap. Today has been the worst day. I have a headache, my blood pressure is up, and my heart is fluttering. It feels like I have a bird in my chest. I wonder if it’s my new prescription of Wellbutrin, or maybe just let-down, or maybe it could be old-fashioned middle-age. Ah well....


What's Your Lexicon?

I got this idea from my Bnet friend, KJ, who got it from someone else, etc. Share your own lexicon or that of another (like a celebrity or politician, perhaps). I’ll start...


Back in the Saddle

Now that the move is over and things are beginning to get back to normal, I think I’ll be able to return to this blog and actually post something that might be worth reading. I’m over writing about the move and I’m sure you’re tired of reading about it, but I do have to say a few things about the new house and how our lives have been changed. I won’t play the false humility card. The truth is, we’ve moved up. We’ve worked hard for this, and at my age, I’m ready to have something I can be proud of.

I’m not materialistic in the least, but I am a Libra and we children of Venus do like beautiful environments because of the peace they bring to our souls. This house fulfills that for me. Sure, I’ve seen plenty of houses that are more opulent and larger than this one, but I’m perfectly satisfied to end out my days here. I’ve been yearning to put down roots and this is the place. The house is large (nearly 3000 square feet), but not so large that it will overwhelm us when the kids are all on their own. It’s beautiful and has more amenities than I can name, but it’s not extravagant.

The greatest thing is that everyone finally has their own space. The girls share a room, my mother has the downstairs master suite, Nathan has a room, Joel has a room, and Nettl and I have the upstairs master suite that’s large enough to double as a movie theater on our family movie nights and intimate enough to be a place where we can shut out the world and the demands of a large family when we need to. All we need now is furniture to fill up all this empty space. We’re taking our time, saving for really nice pieces. We refuse to settle for less that what we really want, even if that means waiting a while. For instance, my current desk (which is in a dormer in our bedroom) is nothing but an old Sauder desk top spanning two black metal filing cabinets. What I want is a writing desk made by Broyhill. So we’ll save for it, and meantime my current setup will have to do. Hell, I’ve been using this for four years, what’s one or two more?

Now, we have living spaces large enough for of family of seven, and we no longer feel like we’re on top of each other. That alone has been one of the greatest pluses about this move. And being the family chef, I really love the new kitchen. Too, my mother has never lived in a house as nice as this one and I’m very happy to know she will live out the rest of her life in comfort.

I’ll take some pictures tomorrow (we finally found my digital camera). But now, I’m going to bed. We’re moved in, but I still spend a good part of my day unpacking, arranging and organizing, and I’m tired.


When Your Heart Takes a Picture

There are some moments that bury themselves deeply into our subconscious. Rarely are they the big, eventful, or seemingly significant moments, they are almost always moments that seem unimportant or mundane. I had one of those today...


The Dumbing-Down of America

Recently, I met someone who believes America is undergoing a rapid decline in religious morals due to mothers working outside the home, families not sitting at the table every night for dinner with French fries instead of mashed potatoes and gravy (?), modern music, dwindling numbers of regular church-goers and, especially, homosexuality. He also said that the 1950s were a “Golden Age” where family life was like Leave it to Beaver. All this knowledge and wisdom from a born-again 20-something whose ignorant misuse of the English language was appalling...


Brit Night

One of the established traditions here in our home is what we call, Brit Night. It’s all about PBS. Joel and I always meet in the den at 10:00 to watch the line-up of British sitcoms that are broadcast by PBS. Last summer the kids joined us, but during the school term their bedtime is at 10:00, so that counts them out. Lynette joins us until about 11:00 then goes to bed because she has to get up and go to work in the morning...


My Dad, Jack Waller, Jr.

4 years: My Daddy can do anything.
7 years: My Dad knows a lot, a whole lot.
8 years: My Father doesn’t know quite everything.
12 years: Oh, well, naturally Father doesn’t know that either.
14 years: Dad? Hopelessly old-fashioned.
21 years: Oh, that man is out of date. What did you expect?
25 years: He knows a little about it, but not much.
30 years: Maybe we ought to find out what Dad thinks.
35 years: A little patience. Let’s get Dad’s assessment before we do anything.
50 years: I wonder what Dad would have thought about that. He was pretty smart.
60 years: My Dad knew absolutely everything!
65 years: I’d give anything if Dad were here so I could talk this over with him. I really miss that man.

(From an Ann Landers column that I cut out years ago)


Joy Riders

25 Things I Like & Dislike About Living in Oklahoma

Some of you may not know that I’m a native Californian. I’ve spent most of my life there, although I’ve also lived in other places, including England and Colorado. I love California and I love Colorado, and I’ve had a difficult time the past 12 years deciding in which state I really wanted to plant my roots...


Eatymology 101

I don’t remember the last time I was as hungover as I am today. Wait. Yes, I do. It was about two, maybe three years ago, up at Ville’s house. Nettl has been very sweet to me, bringing me Zantac, food, and understanding, but behind her tender expression is that look that says, “You igmo! Why did you do this to yourself?”...


Just Ask Me #1 - Tiffany

In response to Tiffany’s questions:

1) Who’s least irritating: John Tesh, David Hasselhoff, or Yanni?
You’re asking a classical composer this? This is a thought-provoking question. Tesh is a Born-Again, so he’s right out, except that at least he’s musically literate. Haven’t heard very much of Hasselhoff, but he does speak (and sing) in German. Yanni was ok as long as Linda Evans was standing next to him. But then, I can’t stand to watch him do that stupid Malibu Barbie hair-flipping motion. My score?
  • Tesh - Positive mark: Can actually write music on paper. Negative mark(s): Born-Again, looks like Dudley Do-right, writes early 21st century “Up With People” hack music.
  • Hasselhoff - Positive mark(s): Fluent in German, has a good voice. Negative mark(s): Plastic “Gone Hollywood” image, probably waxes and tans his vocal chords, sings quasi-disco hack music.
  • Yawn!i - Positive mark: Linda Evans. Negative mark(s): Dumped by Linda Evans, Malibu Barbie hair-flip, mental mind massage hack music.
My Choice for LEAST irritating musical hack: Andrew Lloyd Weber.

2) Which book do you believe should never ever (ever, ever, ever!) be made into a motion picture?
The History of Door Hinges by Rusty Skroux. No, seriously, Elective Affinities by Goethe (oh no…I’m seeing visions of Merchant-Ivory (or Kenneth Branaugh) getting hold of this one!).

3) What’s the corniest pick-up line you recall using?
In a bar, to a woman wearing a T-shirt with my first name on the front (it was some rock singer’s name, not specifically mine): “Did you know you have my autograph on your chest?” Corny, but it worked. We were together for four years.


Just Ask Me

Ask me 3 questions, no more no less. Ask anything you want. Then, if you have a weblog, copy and paste this paragraph into a new entry so that other people (including myself) can ask you 3 questions.


Where's My Xanax?

Over the past week I’ve watched myself go from blissful to panicked, enraged to submissive, energized to depleted, and shaky to strong. Why? In an emergency two-second decision Nettl and I took custody of the kids. My once quiet haven of incense, bubbling fountains, and Mozart andantes has, literally overnight, turned into a video arcade, movie theater, co-ed scout camp, emotional service station, psychiatric couch, telephone exchange, and a vast field of pre-adolescent hormonal land mines...


What, No Relish?

“Simply a hot dog” with mustard on a roll. It’s not surprising that the wife of our late president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, should have served this popular American sandwich at their Hyde Park picnic for the King and Queen of England. It’s her favorite for all her picnics...


Page 23 Revisited

  1. Grab the nearest book
  2. Open the book to page 23
  3. Find the fifth sentence
  4. Post the text of the sentence on your blog

“To hell with posterity!”
Henry Miller Interview, 1962, from
Conversations With Henry Miller

by Frank L. Kersnowski & Alice Hughes


Just Ask Me #2 - Chocomoose

In response to Chocomoose’s questions:

1) What would you do with the rest of your life if you were immortal?
I’d be a whole lot gentler and more patient with myself about achieving my life goals.

2) If you had to live without either chocolate (or you other favorite vice if chocolate is not your bag) or wine, which would you give up, and why?

3) If you won the lottery, who would be the first, and who would be the last person you would tell?
I’d tell Nettl first. Last would be my brother and his wife.


They Paved Paradise

They have decimated the woods behind our house. Across an expanse of fenceless back yards, there used to lie a quiet copse of mostly oaks and scrub oaks that huddled on the banks of a creek, surrounded by natural prairie grasses. But all that’s gone now...