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Alfonse and I fell in love with this house at first sight.

So much so, our father looked at us when we got back to the rented time share that day and said “ok, settle down now”.  He also didnt appreciate hearing that John had said in front of the realtor “Kathy we can put our Christmas tree right here”.  I imagine in real estate sales training, they teach them to get people envisioning their Christmas tree in the house, then you’ve got them in the palm of your hand.  And we were, John and I, resting like two little eggs right in the nest she was holding.

My Dad, although he tried to hide it and play hardball, got infected the next day with the same enchantment and made an offer on it.  It was ours the day after that.

Three bedrooms, three baths, gorgeous views everywhere, great location and about 50K less than the range we were looking.  It couldn’t have been more perfect for us and we all knew it.

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I had a similar sense when I bought my current townhouse in Tempe, also the first day I went out looking.  I remember Burton my realtor saying “Kathy if you don’t buy this house, I am.  After selling real estate in Tempe for 20 years, I’ve not seen a better deal”. i made an offer and it was accepted the same day.

In both of these cases, there was another offer on the table yet the seller chose us.  John and I found out last weekend from the builder, one of the investors of this property who we purchased it from and who just happens to be our neighbor, that they chose us because “those other people were really cranky”.

I then give the credit for this purchase, again, to Alfonse.  He saw the (not listed on MLS) sign, he shopped for all the furniture we needed to purchase and the rest is filled with his furnishings from Illinois that I documented in a post here called “unboxed” that I’d be linking if I wasn’t pecking this out on my iPad that’s driving me crazy.  Please pardon the lack of flair in this post for that reason by the way.

Alfonse is so rarely cranky.  His illness is a full bastard at times but John is typically sweet natured and friendly.  Always has been.

Im up here by myself for the first time this weekend.  I was wandering and pondering last night and sort of in awe at how naturally comfortable I feel here already.  Nothing on the walls, no window treatments so it’s a fishbowl at night, still some boxes not unpacked, lots to do yet.  But I feel so right at home here.

I  feel confident saying its just about the opposite of how I felt, shockingly, when I moved in to my Tempe townhome.  It took me about a year to get comfortable there, inexplicably.  Sometimes I think we’re after 13 years only staying together for the children. And when I say that I mean my Master bath.  I designed and remodeled that sucker to almost a spa like retreat.  Picked out a large deep tub, popped out a wall, did all the tile work myself, including the mosaic step up to the tub.  And I’d never tiled before.  I’ll share pics when I get home and off this hunt and peck contraption.  To me my bath area is a jewel box.  But not a good reason to stay together, yet enough. Moving is a bitch.

Last night I took my first soak though in this master bath and thought, ok yeah, this is worth cheating on my master bathtub for.

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I saw that huge full moon rise up from that panoramic window, sipping my Malbec and stretched out.  And I have to admit I felt 100% like I belonged right there.

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The first time John and I got in here after the sale was final, he stood in the living room and said “Kathy one day were gonna be two old people pushing each other around in a wheelchair in this house”.

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I rarely sleep well the first night in Sedona.  That’s been going on for the 30 or so years I’ve been coming here.  So last night at 3am I found myself on the upstairs balcony, the one off Alfonse’ bedroom, the Master, sharing some silence and some moon time with the crickets.

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I had this strong feeling that I might die in this house after creating many memories here.  That we all might.  It was such a poignant and melancholy feeling.

We all have to be somewhere, right? I’d just never had that kind of foreshadowing before.

I sincerely hope I’m the last one standing.  I will write more about this notion later when I have more time and an adequate keyboard.  But it’s a deep well to fall in realizing you very likely will be the last one standing of your lineage,  your bloodline, ever.  But that’s another topic.

I need to go about assembling a leather recliner and continue falling in love.

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I spent the day back at the courthouse today for a hearing in the Travis Alexander murder trial.   Still waiting for a new sentencing  phase which of course is getting drug out to hither and yon.

The day didn’t start off smoothly for me though as John wasn’t answering his phone and it appeared to be turned off.  I stopped by his house on the way to meet my friend to drive to court and he wasn’t home.  7:30 am and no car, nothing.  I did see he’d pulled in the newspaper and sometimes he runs out for donuts so had to just go on trusting and hoping he was ok.  He was not far from my thoughts all day though.  He’s still a bit fragile.

I went with Joilyn, a new friend I made through attending the trial who I simply adore.  We are like peas and carrots as Forest Gump said.  But our peas and carrots have some kind of vermouth and spice poured over them.  😉

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We showed up and saw Travis’ Aunt Heather there…she was the only family member to attend this very brief hearing today. We’d assured the family that if there was something small, like today, that would be hard for them to attend, we’d bring a show of force and we had almost the entire front row filled today with blue ribbons.

We also sat with many of our trial pals, Katie Wick, Stacey Fairington, her cousin Cody and Travis’ friend Pam.  We all came to hold space for the Alexander family as we’d promised.  We all sat to the left of Aunt Heather taking up nearly the entire front row.

The hearing itself turned out to be pretty much a dud, but the day turned out to be pretty dang amazing.

Three of the jurors also attended but chose to sit over on the public side.  We had premade plans to go to breakfast after the hearing with them.  I was really looking forward to meeting them after watching them all those months and taking notes of my obsessive observations on their minute behaviors. 😉

First major event was seeing Jodi Arias escorted in in prison stripes and full shackles–hand and feet.  There were several seriously armed sheriff’s deputies in what appeared to be riot gear escorting her in and standing all around the courtroom.  The female guard literally had her hand on Jodi’s shackles the entire time she was in the courtroom. She walked her across the courtroom as if on a leash.  Wearing blue latex gloves.  Clink clink clink went her shackles. Finally the criminal, the convicted murder, looks the part she wrote for herself.

The day began with an ex parte hearing.  Which simply means the defense meets with the Judge alone while the Prosecution hangs out doing nothing.  Nothing I say other than Juan Martinez moseying over to our little group and making some small talk, which turned in to yours truly striking up a 15 minute conversation with him about many things.  A T shirt project that is using some of his “Juanisms” and told him I will make sure he gets one (sorry bad sentence, can’t fix it):

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http://ariasloveletters.tumblr.com/page/2

a song the same artist created related to “The Verdict” which I think is just freaking amazing:

and a whole lot of other chit chat.  He finally connected the dots about who I am, our case, our mutual connection to Cathy Hughes (our prosecutor).  He asked me a lot of questions about what was going on with our appeals.  He was very approachable and sincerely cared. I could feel it.  It warmed my little heart and was so nice to get to have a personal conversation with him while we were all just hanging and waiting for something to happen.

I asked him the best way to get my JusticeBoyToy’s creativity to him and he wrote down his personal contact info on a piece of paper and gave it to me.  WOW!  What a beginning to my day!  Of course I have a huge admiration for Juan Martinez along with only about a hundred million gazillion other people.  I know what a *deal of the day* it was for me to have that opportunity!

Then the hearing actually happened which was just a “we’re going to continue this July 18” situation.  Oh well.  That’s what it was.  Lots and lots of waiting in a trial process.

We saw Jodi Arias led back out again in her prison garb and the clang clang clang went the shackles as she limped out.  She was led outside the courtroom briefly then came back in, sat down and I’m not kidding you, was completely surrounded by these “riot gear” guards.  The female never taking a hand off of her and the two burly males flanking her within striking distance. Whoa.  Something seriously has changed. It was like a Sociopath Panini on grilled Firepower bread.  She has absolutely zero wiggle room now.  Good.

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Once we all quickly filed out of court, we met up with the three jurors in the hall who were getting kind of bombarded by reporters.  They did decide to do one interview but once we descended and out the front doors, several cameras were waiting for them and literally swarmed them like bees.  We kind of hung around a bit and waited then we all filed over to breakfast at a local joint.  I was so honored to meet them and a bit daunted as I’d been studying them for so long.

Oh and while we were waiting, ran in to the always charming and handsome Ryan Owens from Good Morning America.  He will always have my heart and respect over that delicious interview he served up with Jodi Arias post verdict.   The only one who really burned out the hard questions to her.  She even called him a hater!  His new found claim to fame.  He should be on 60 Minutes!  Note the photo bombage.

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We all had a great breakfast time and sharing.  Hugs all around. Lots of just post trial venting, questions, answers, how do you do’s.

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Oh!  How could I forget?  While we were at breakfast, John’s case manager called me back (I’d left a message early in the morning) to tell me John was there at the program and doing ok.  Whew!  My entire body just deflated/inflated a little bit right then.  I  have to learn to trust now, not live in fear of the past, trust he’s in a much healthier, more stable place now and well tethered to me.

I stopped on the way home to see him and he seemed much better than yesterday.  He’d just showered, shampooed his hair, talked about buying new cologne, had changed the kitty litter, all good signs of his mental health improving.  When I told him I’d gotten so scared when I couldn’t reach him he shared his phone screen had gone black and he didn’t know what was going on.  He stepped over and gave me a big hug and said “I’m sorry I scared you Kathy.  I love you”.  See what I mean?  Too sweet for words.

When I got home, I got a text from Aunt Heather, that she’d not gotten on her standby flight so I suggested we go out to dinner and she accepted!

I took her to my favorite authentic Mexican Thursday night special place–delicious chicken mole which we both got.  Had a couple of margaritas and a great 2 plus hour conversation about life, death, tragedy, surviving, PTSD, love, family, connection.  You name it.  We both shared how glad we are to have met even through this horrible event.  She’s a very special person and I really bonded with her today/tonite.  What gifts have come from this trial.  So many beautiful people coming together in support of Travis’ family and in support of Travis himself.

All in all I’d say quite a bit of noteworthy happened today.

So I sign off tonite with this, in memory.  We won’t abandon your quest for justice Travis.  We’re here with all of you for the duration, as long as it takes.

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(I launch this post in honor of my dear friend Jonathan aka @justicesboytoy as a salute to his brilliant creative, kind spirit which inspires me)

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Good visit with John’s doctor today.  He is totally overhauling his medication regime and putting him on a fairly new med that will be given in one injection every four weeks.  Then he’ll get to go off most of the pills he takes. 🙂

John felt really positive about it, his symptoms were quite abated by the time we got there and he was much more stable by the time I got him back home.

Early intervention is where it’s at.  Absolutely where it’s at.

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One of my favorite movies is the quirky flick Love Actually.  Above is one of my favorite scenes.

And it’s also, in my head, renamed Cautionary Tale. 

I’m talking about that Laura Linney character, you know the one who revolves her life around her mentally ill brother?  Yeah, that one.

The character who foregoes love because her brother’s illness is constantly interrupting her life?  Yeah, that one.

Being in charge of a mentally ill sibling isn’t for the faint of heart.  And it’s also not something you can anticipate how to balance, how to juggle, how to maintain.

I can’t say I’m very good at it, at all.  I forget at times just how ill my brother is.  I’m reminded of that this week.  Sometimes it feels like my life revolves around trying to keep him out of the hospital.  Yet other times, our connection is absolutely breathtaking.  Stability is a word not often associated with mental illness.  Unless in the context of something to hope for, to strive for.

He finally just answered his phone after many attempts to contact him all morning.  He has a Psychiatrist appointment today that he really needs to go to. They are not easy to get in the system he’s plugged in to. The voices have escalated in the last week, the day program he’s in has called me twice in the last few days, concerned about him.

He’s refusing to go to the appointment today yelling at me “I’m too ill Kathy, I can’t leave the house!”.

My father leaves to be out of the country tomorrow for a three week trip.  I don’t want to worry him about John before he leaves.  Maybe that’s why John is escalating, who knows?

Luckily we’ve worked it out where John lives about 3 minutes from my house.  I won’t share how many times I’ve run over there to just check on him, sometimes in my pajamas.  It’s good that he’s so close and not good in some ways.

I decided this morning to go against my hypervigilance and not run over there.  Yet here I am, writing about him, worried.

I keep going back to that Laura Linney character.

My life generally revolves around supporting others and being their backup person.  My job is defined by that.  Being single I get ground down to nothing sometimes in this role.  I know I’m not alone in this position on the planet.

Speaking of my job, I have a client who is also a cautionary tale for me in some ways.  She came in yesterday.  Her autistic son has been seriously decompensating over the last couple of years.  He’s a teenager and they can barely find a school that will take him.  There have been threats, assaults on teachers, restraining orders, arrests, scary stuff.  She’s now trying to figure out if some kind of residential program will be the thing to keep him out of jail.  We all hear stories of kids who go in and shoot up a school.  I feel like I’m seeing the genesis of this kind of horror unfold before my eyes through her own words.  It’s actually pretty terrifying what’s been going on. I find myself, in my head, thinking “well I would never do that” but then I wonder.  I remember my role is to support her and her well being, so that’s always my default position.  Luckily she almost never asks my advice.

Her life revolves around care taking him and she sees no alternative for the rest of her life.  He has assaulted her many times.  She tries to craft ways to remodel her home where she can create a safe house inside it to sequester  herself in to if needed.  From her own son.

These are realities people deal with with mental illness in the family.

It can swallow an entire family, whole.

John just hung up on me again after yelling “nobody cares about me Kathy” as he’s completely paranoid.  While at the same time promising me he’s going to take the half of his medication he didn’t take last night.

I guess I’m signing off now to stop off over there on my way to work.  It’s just the way it is.

Revolving your life trying to keep someone out of the hospital is not a life I want any of us to be living.

Sometimes things need to escalate to find a new solution.

So today, especially today, I’ll be paying attention.  And hopefully being guided to the right combination of words to convince him to let me take him to that Dr. appointment.   And hopefully not landing in the Emergency Room again by day’s end.

Update:  deep breath.  John just answered the phone, I found the right words to say to him that he has to let me take him to the Dr. today and he agreed.  I’m very fortunate in that he is usually completely compliant with me.  His illness isn’t all the time but my dear brother deep down in there, trusts me.  Unlike my client, I’ve never felt unsafe with John.  The good fortune I have with that basic yet tremendous thing is not lost on me.

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I’ll warn you on the front end, this post is gonna ramble.  Because that’s where my head is at right now, thoughts popping like fireflies and I’m following their dance and see where it takes me.  I’m relieved to feel this movement as, honestly, the last two weeks have been rough.  I mean emotionally rough.  Who knows why?  It happens, cycles happen.

It’s the nature of most minds, definitely my mind, to try and figure everything out.  Why am I in this funk?  What is causing it?  Is it physical? Emotional? Am I missing a nutrient?  Oh I missed several days of my hormones, that’s it!  Oh wait, it’s still here.  Then maybe it was all that dark writing, was that good for me?  Blah blah freaking blah the mind goes on and on with that clock face spinning and spinning searching desperately for the problem then the answer will be not far behind!  I’m just sure of it!

What if the problem was actually the searching?

When they do all those intake forms for menopause issues, one of the terms that comes up frequently is a symptom of internal tension.  Well let me tell you, most of every day over the last week or so, I knew exactly what they are talking about.  This unrelenting pressure inside of your very being that is a loud resonant knock knock knock on your brain.  It commands your attention.  It bubbles over at anything and everything it finds deserving of it’s unique brand of sharing.  Then it retreats, only to build again.  Let’s just say there were quite a few apologies flowing out of my mouth to my brother on our trip to Sedona.  “I’m sorry, I’m just not feeling like myself and I don’t mean to take it out on you”.  He always just replies “it’s ok Kathy”  or “it’s ok, I know you’re stressed” or one time he just replied by taking out the garbage without having to be asked.   He listens. He’s actually a soothing balm for me with his unique brand of tolerance.

Last night I got to think about this going on.  How to shake it, wondering when it was going to pass, when those hormone creams were gonna finally kick in, I mean it’s been four full days since I got back on them.  Four full freaking days already!

So I allowed my mind to wander in a different direction when I got home from a movie with some friends.  A very intense thought provoking film that is honestly my favorite activity when I’m in this state.  Let me sit in a dark cool movie theatre and watch someone else play out my angst on a screen.  It’s heaven.

I was also struck by a conversation after the movie that got me thinking about labels.  How we are so quick to want to label our discomfort so we can as quickly as possible, find the remedy.  And how we go down all these dead ends and wrong turns chasing those labels and cures.  How I’ve done that I mean.

All of this pressure, all of this just being over my own damn self, led me to remember one of my favorite all time poems that I visit and revisit when there is any need for it’s particular medicine.  I’ll just go ahead and share it right now.  I also found an interesting blog with some interesting analysis on it.  I’ve seen this poet, David Whyte, recite this poem twice in person and his own sharing of what it means or meant to him.  I’ll just say I’m glad this poem is on the planet as it’s been good medicine for me on many occasions.  Many.

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Turn to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb
tonight.

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

David Whyte
The House of Belonging
Many Rivers Press, 1998

This poem always makes me think about seeds.  About how they absolutely need those  essential elements of time and darkness and aloneness in order to sprout.  They do it all on their own, in their own time and with the right conditions they evolve in to a masterpiece.

They need that darkness and sweet confinement of their aloneness.

To a seed, it’s absolutely sweet.  To me, sometimes, it’s my own version of Hell.

I need to revisit this experience, this revelation, over and over in my life.  Each and every time I forget.  This poem has become a compass to me, yet it doesn’t mean I don’t stop forgetting.  This is maybe the one and only most important lesson in my life.  To accept these periods of darkness and seeding.

I had a Myofascial release treatment this past week and didn’t my body just curl right up in to that seed posture.  All on it’s own.

I felt all week and much of the last two weeks that I just wanted to be home.  I wanted to be home in my little comfy chair with my comfy blanket or in my bed.

And at the same time, I found myself resenting all the fun people out there in the world having fun while I was sitting here stuck in a near state of paralysis.  That judging judging mind loves to take all kinds of trips.  The Road to Self Pity is a favorite jaunt.  The I’m Going to Stay Stuck Like this Forever is a picnic it loves to pack.  The I Am Really All Alone In This World is one it will purchase a ticket for.

Yet life rafts come in all forms I’ve noticed.

Sometimes they come in the form of someone else’s pain.  I ran in to a girl online who was sharing her misery over a relationship that’s going south.  I thought what can I say to her?  Well, that’s when I realized it was really David Whyte who held the answer so went looking for his poem.  Which was of course for me.

So back to seeds.  I wake up this morning, laid in my bed for a moment to assess the emotional terrain.  Is it still there I asked my mind?  Well, there was a feeling of freedom that it had somehow started moving.  Of course even the asking of the question brought back a shimmer of that dark cloud but I was able to move much more quickly from my bed.  It’s kind of like your entire leg having fallen asleep but you can begin to move your foot.  Like that.

I came downstairs wondering if I had anything to write today, any thoughts in my head worth sharing. Any organized enough to even be translatable.

So I signed on to Facebook first.  And I ran in to this photo.

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I became instantly captivated with this photo.  Looking at the jars, the seeds inside, the book in the background, the granite countertop, seeing she has a Blendtec blender vs. the Vitamix I’d gotten for my birthday, wondering what the greens are in her smoothie until all that wandering through that photo, through that looking glass, led me to think “Why am I not making my smoothies anymore?”.

Something happens when that paralysis takes over me that I forget even the simplest steps to take care of myself.  It’s these moments I realize the impact of growing up without a mother had on me.  I know very well how to kick in to auto pilot to take care of others but when it’s me, my mind goes blank each and every time.

Sometimes I’m lucky and a friend just steps in.  But most of the time I’m suffering in silence and stuck, forgetting even the basics.

So this photo and it’s pulling me in like those sidewalk chalk drawings did on Mary Poppins, was God’s way of sending me a life raft.

Now let me tell you a little something about the girl who took this photo, the smoothie maker.  Her name is Elisha and I met her through the Travis Alexander trial.  She was a very very good friend of Travis’.

I remember the first time I met her.  First of all, she’s strikingly beautiful.  I mean seriously head turning.  Tall, lean, gorgeous red hair, one of those interesting faces you just want to keep looking at.

I got instant tears in my eyes looking at this photo of us again and noticing for the first time it appears I am hanging on to Elisha for dear life.  See how my hands are clasped around her so tightly?  When you read what comes next, you may understand what I was grasping.  Her clarity.  This photo was taken the day the guilty verdict was handed down in Travis trial.

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What has left the greatest impression on me about Elisha is her absolute level of realness.  She is a photographer so clearly has that artist’s soul and keen eye.  I remember sitting there on that outdoor sofa with her the day I met her and just feeling so much, it was almost hard to even speak.  Her pain at losing her very very good friend was so raw and so real.   She shared some highly personal stories with me about her relationship with Travis that I still remember every single detail of.  They had a very special soulmate type relationship although it was entirely platonic.  I’m actually feeling the exact feeling I had that day right now while she was speaking as I’m writing this.  Being in the presence of that kind of authenticity sometimes is just daunting.

I remember Elisha giving me a message that day about forgiveness.  About how she received a message from Travis saying we all needed to forgive his killer Jodi Arias.  Her commitment to this feeling, this knowing, was so strong.

The day of the verdict, Elisha went on national TV talking about that forgiveness.  This girl has balls I tell you.  In a moment like that when the collective community is immersed in vengeance, she’s talking, on camera, about forgiveness.  She is a living legacy to Travis Alexander.

So this morning I’m captivated by Elisha’s simple photograph really talking about these jars she got at the dollar store.

Then I realized.  Those are all seeds in those jars.  This photo is an homage to the importance of seeds.  But seeds in a particular moment in their life cycle. Seeds soaking in water in order to break down their outer shell, to release their life force.

I realized then and there that this is the moment I’m experience right now.  That moment in the second stage right here:

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Can you see how delicate that second stage of development is?  It’s just barely begun to peek out of all of that hard protection.  It must surely have to build up a ton of internal tension in order to bust out like that!  After realizing it’s safe to come out and express itself.  But it took it’s own sweet time to get there.  In the third photo it’s starting to develop a bit more of a support system but that second one is where the rubber meets the road. It’s where all the vulnerability lies.  And yet it still can’t help but be moved to move.  To become more than it knew possible inside itself.

We all love to stop and smell the roses.  To rejoice at those beautiful blooms everywhere.  The poor seed often gets neglected.

Peonies are my favorite flower so I went in search of peony seeds this morning, never having seen one.  Check this out.

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Now those peony seeds themselves look so protected, such a hard shell.  But they’ve added a whole other level of protection to sequester themselves in.  I wonder how many layers I have.  How many will I bust through to land in to something like this?

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All unfurled and ruffled and displaying a pattern but no pattern at the same time.  Just a full explosion of bloom.  I can relate to this.

A seed knows it’s place in the world and does everything it can possibly do to protect that residence.

Why do I keep thinking I need to pull myself out of that germination prematurely over and over again?

Today I thank that tiny sprout that’s begun to take that journey in to the unknown.  That little white sprout that trusts and eagerly reaches out without fear.  That sprout that remains fully connected to it’s container as that seed sacrifices it’s life so it can develop in to what it was born to be.

So today I will be going to the dollar store to get those jars.  Then the health food store to get the seeds Elisha recommended.  And tomorrow to make my smoothies again, thanking each and every one of those seeds as they sacrifice their potential for my own.

Thank you David Whyte and Elisha for helping me remember.  For helping me see.  And Elisha, I’m going to set about forgiving myself today for forgetting.  In you and Travis’ honor.

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Painting by our cousin Keith Eveland

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This is one of my absolute favorite pictures of my father, Jack.  I took it myself.  There he is in his favorite perch in the world I think…or at least right up there.  At the head of the table in our dining room at the Monkeyspoon cottage at Wells Beach Maine.  My father has been going there, literally, since he was in the womb.  I’ve been going there nearly as long, maybe shave off 7 years or so.

In this picture my father is wearing his then favorite hat.  A “Hobie Cat” hat he found in tatters on the beach during a beach walk.  It already had a hole in it when he found it, which obviously could be the reason it was discarded in the first place.  But my Dad patched that hole up with something–some kind of fabric he found somewhere else- and wore it for years.  I mean, for years.   Until it just disintegrated.  That little story sums up many things about my father.  I only wish I had a clue of what they are.

You can see the twinkle in his eye and his sky blue eyes.  My Dad has the most unusual color of eyes I think I’ve seen.  They are this light blue that somehow is a color right in between the ocean and the sky.  Which in itself in descriptive of my Dad as well.

My father’s life has been touched by more tragedy than I think anyone I will ever meet.  By the age of 35 he’d lost both his father and wife, the mother of his three children, to Cancer.  His first born was murdered and his youngest succumbed to Schizophrenia.  Yet my father has always maintained his childlike spirit.

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I think that photo kind of sums it up, especially the two pairs of boxers.  I’m sure the one peeking out underneath was equally as festive.  My Dad has one of the most playful spirits and the biggest laugh of anyone I know.  Cindy and he really played off each other in that way.  I remember how heartily she would make him laugh.  I miss that.

My Dad grew up in NYC, an only child and, like us kids, lived in a household with his grandparents (Buddha’s parents).  My Grandfather who I only met when I was a baby, was very successful and my Dad went to Ivy League Schools and prep schools.  Here is a photo of him on a cruise at what looks like age 3 maybe?  He still has those same legs!

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Although he was raised in a life of pretty distinct privilege, he taught his own children much deeper values.  Thank God for that as who knew we would need that sustenance through this life.  I would say the biggest lesson my father has taught me has something to do with resiliency and not losing your spark.  And that he’s taught me by example.

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I can’t think of a situation or event or conversation where I’ve felt my father ever judged me.  Ever.  Sure he was disappointed in me at times, who isn’t?  But I feel safe to say I’ve not for one minute ever felt judged by my father.  I’ve always felt like he saw the best in me.  That in itself is a very rare gift a parent offers a child, I know.  He clearly taught this to my brother as he’s exactly the same way with me.  How fortunate I feel right now just writing this out.

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I’ve always found it kind of unusual that my father raised me but we pronounce the word orange differently.  He says “ah range” and I say “oar ange”.  How did this come about I wonder?

I remember going to Sunday School in early grade school and asking the teacher what made Jesus different from my own father?  It was an honest question.  I remember the room I was in when I asked it, probably the 2nd grade class room.  I just distinctly remember her describing Jesus and thinking “so what, my Dad is exactly like that”.  No offense Jesus, just keepin it real.

When I was the only kid in my 3rd grade class to raise my hand to volunteer to take the bus to “the black neighborhood” at the advent of integration, I couldn’t wait to get home to tell my father I was going on this adventure as I knew he’d be so proud of me.  And he was.

I felt the same way when I announced just six months after graduating from college and getting a good job, buying a new car, that I was moving to Mexico on a whim for love.  I just didn’t feel afraid he would try and talk me out of it.  I got so many heart felt letters from my father, quoting Gibran and sharing his innermost thoughts while I lived in Mexico.  Maybe there was something about me taking that crazy risk that he wished he’d done himself once so was living vicariously through me.

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This picture was taken on my 40th birthday.  My father and I also went on this wild and amazing culinary/wine tour through Quebec for my 50th birthday.  I couldn’t imagine anyone I’d rather have been with than my father for that milestone.  I remember the day we landed in Quebec City and he was concerned about his ability to walk all around those cobblestone streets and was just telling me to go off and he’d wait for me in this gorgeous hotel there.  But as we rose up on this contraption like a sideways elevator, this is what we walked right in to.

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After that informative and fun horse drawn carriage ride all over the city, we stopped for hot chocolate here:

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My Dad isn’t a big wine/foodie like I am in the same ways I am but he embraced the whole trip.  I have to say though by the end of those seven days of 4 course meals, all we wanted was a big hamburger and some fries.

When I reflect on my father I think of a person who almost never complains.  He gets frustrated at things like technology not working, losing keys, bad drivers but the real things that matter, he just doesn’t complain.  I wish I had more of that in me.  I sometimes wish I still called him Daddy.  I’m glad I tell him I love him in every phone conversation.

I’ve made Tollhouse cookies for my father on nearly every birthday and Father’s Day my entire life.  I had a weird week so my butter is softening on the counter as I write this.  But they will at least be baked today, sent out tomorrow.

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He calls them “Heavens”.  Not sure where we got that one going.   It’s worth it to always see this expression on his face when you hand him a plate of Heavens right from the oven.  Note the glass of cold milk in my other hand.  I feel sure Cindy took this photo as she’d have been totally involved with this surprise, it was probably her idea.

It’s hard to know what to get my Dad now for presents.  He lives very simply, still mostly on the road and out of his RV.  So stuff is kind of a nuisance.

I was thinking yesterday that I think I’m giving him the best Father’s Day gift he could ever get.  The promise that I will take care of John for the rest of our lives.  It wasn’t always like that.  I can only imagine how it felt for my Dad wondering what would become of John over time.  Now I hope I’ve taken that worry from him as I will not ever abandon John and I will hold vigil over his well being as best I can.

That and Tollhouse Heavens that are on their way.  That and this love letter I’m composing right here.

Thank you Dad for teaching me more about heart and less about things.  Thank for crafting me in to the sentimental fool that I am who will always see you like Jesus in that way I did in the second grade for the duration of this life.

I will do my best for the rest of my days to make you proud.

I love you.

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