Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'm having trouble writing here - no good reason. I think I'm just burning my energy at work and on trying to continue refining the house simplifications. There is still so much to do. Ruth finished painting the blue dining room today - lovely. Yom Kippur was beautifully celebrated by our community. I am still feeling contemplative, thinking of broken relationships and interpersonal disappointments. I am so very aware that each of my words and actions affects the people around me, and it is a big responsibility to choose wisely and kindly, choice by choice.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Another cool rainy day. It's funny how minor accomplishments can be so satisfying. As we continue to have large amounts to trash and especially recycle, Wednesday nights are a highlight of the week for me as I get permission to use neighbors empty can space and carry more and more old papers and such out of the house to recycle. I laugh at myself for having so much fun in this simple process. I think it satisfies me because, unlike most of the more complicated aspects of life, it works every time. I gather the recycling, put it in the cans, and it goes away the next morning - simple cause and effect.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First day of autumn felt like it - rainy all day and high didn't reach seventy. I wished I had a sweater all day- a lovely wish after our killer hot dry summer. It's with a deep sense of relief that I see green growth at the roadside and water flowing in our creeks. It will warm up again before autumn begins to settle into winter, but today was a lovely precurser.

Ruth and Chris and I continue to work on the house. Last night Ruth and I got lots of old stuff, all kinds, down from the attic and were able to send most to the thrift shop with no regrets. Liam is thriving, and thriving right here where I can hug him every day, to my great delight. He is a cuddly armful, but only for a minute, before he cruises off on his next great adventure, lively that one, so loved, and loving life already.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I enter the river
in autumn each year,
when light fades,
when hope quakes
new moon, deep dark
I enter the river.
Your love is my ark.

Pockets hang heavy
with fear and regret.
I enter the river
to empty and fill.
Love will sustain me.
The river can change me.
I trust that it will.

Victoria Hbendricks, September 21, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Organized spiritual practice in a community is so ggod for me. I didn't feel like going to Rosh Hoshannah services tonight, and yet going, singing, reading in front of hte congregation, seeing friends, watching the congregation love Liam (and Ruth and Chris))all lifted my heart. This is the time of turning away from past mistakes and starting clean and strong. I turn my heart and soul in that direction - more writing tomorrow - holiday poems half baked - but now, sleep.
Tomorrow night Rosh Hoshannah begins - time of spiritual new beginnings, fresh starts. It is remarkably a year of new beginnings on so many levels for our family. Tonight I'm tired and feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work it will take to make this house the way we want it to be - fresh and not cluttered. I know tomorrow I will feel more enerrgy for more change.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mary Travers died today - icon of folk singing, long hair, big voice, passionate performer. I feel my own mortality as the great ones a half generation older begin to die off from natural causes, not drug over doses, plane crashes, suicide. They just die, as we all will. About Mary, I feel thankful that she shone her light and sang her song as she did so many years. I always loved the song "If I had a Hammer...if I had a song to sing, I'd sing it on the mountain...I'd sing a song of freedom all over this land." Well she did have a song to sing and she sang it. May I do the same, sing my song (not literally you don't have to cover your ears) with power and grace for as many days as I am given.

Notions of heaven are highly personal. I wrote a short poem last week about one version, which fits when I think about Mary Travers and Ted Kennedy.


To be remembered as refuge,
To continue to guide, nurture,
love, teach, comfort, sustain
After body dies. Heaven.
Victoria Hendricks, September 15, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

I made turkey with Mango and cinnamon for supper tonight, with cous cous, and Ruth liked it. This is meaningful because she was a very picky eater into early adulthood, especially about fruits and vegetables and this is an odd dish, just one I love. I have Chris to thank for her expanded tastes. He's a great cook, very accepting, and led her to safely try new tastes. I love so much about that man!

So far so good on my new way of thinking, being in the world. It really does feel like a little miracle, the loosening of need to control. I've known since Kerry died that bad things happen no matter how much you love, how good you are, how hard you try - but there's something fresh right now, a lightening up. I think I'm seeing more how much my family members love me even though I can't keep them safe and make everything work out OK. I've always been more interested in having their respect, everyone's respect, than in unconditional love, which always seemed too easy. I didn't want any positive regard I hadn't earned. I never understood why people even thought unconditional love was a good thing - unconditional responsibility or loyalty maybe - as for a parent with a disability, but not unconditional love. What I wanted was that heady mix of love, liking and respect that blows the ceiling off the room. I still love it when that comes and I always will. Probably everybody does - but their is a peace in being loved as is without earning it that is just beginning to feel real and desirable.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Big changes - inside and out. I loved this weekend, the presence of so many of my cherished family members, helping KK with homework, just being in her presence, watching Ruth and Joanna play with Liam, listening to both of them talk about their own lives and the directions in which they are working and hoping to move. It is the time of year in the Jewish calender for introspection and change, for casting out the crumbs of stale old ways. That time comes every year, of course and it matters every year, but the truth is some years I am more moved than others - and this year is special for me. I decided (chose) yesterday to give up habits of thought and anxiety (read control) that I developed when I was raising the girls after Kerry died. I was the only grown up then and I did have a lot of responsibility for making everything work. It isn't like that now. Bob is a great partner and my daughters are grown and capable. And yet, I held on in some hard to define way to a sense that I had the wellfare of the family in the palm of my hand. i let go of that lie yesterday, with many tears and much difficulty in a long conversation with Ruth, Chris and Bob. Relaxation has never been a goal of mine - not stressing, resting, having fun - just not on Victoria's list. And it's time to change that now, to soften. It seems like something that just happened, like a little miracle, as soon as I chose it. All day today and yesterday afternoon I had plenty of chances to stress over little stuff, to overthink details, and I just didn't - wasn't even tempted. I know I'll be tempted again, but this seems like one of those big life changing decisions -an inner Rubicon - after which nothing is ever the same again.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Really tired tonight, but happy. It's rained all day. Bob came home tonight instead of tomorrow and Joanna and K.K. joined us for Sabbath dinner with the blue table cloth and my grandmother's lace - very sweet. Its almost Jewish New Year, time to value sweetness in life and contemplate changes, fresh starts. Plenty of that going around in our family.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm proud of myself tonight. I installed a light fixture-my first Ruth installed a ceiling fan in the living room and I was handing her screws and mentioned that my Dad would be proud of her. He and Mama had made a list of gender atypical skills they wanted any kids to have and installing a light fixture was on the list for girls. Ruth then proceeded to encourage and instruct me to install the light Not so hard, with Ruth guidance. It's odd how many things I have never tried that I probably could do just fine. I love the rewourcefulness of both my daughters, the can do spirit to try all kinds of projects.

On another track altogether, I'm thinking how, on September 10, 2001 we went to bed with no idea that September 11 2001 would be anything but an ordinary late summer day.
Estate items moved out, Ruth and Chris' things from their house mostly moved in - no more Ryder truck in the driveway. Whew! Culling culling culling still -but more and more things have real places to be and stay. I love that Ruth takes the lead in organizing. I can follow, do much of hte physical work, keep things clean and neat, but I've never been good at creating systems and she is. Living room (whimsy themed with kids in mind and pleasing to us grownups too) is taking shape. Kitchen contents are merged and Chris is cooking up a storm using ingredients we've pooled. I'm worn out from moving and crazy work week, but so far so good. Joanna came over this evening and it was fun seeing her in the auntie role playing with Liam. I liked having her in the house with us. KK will be here Friday night - need to find some time to get Zachary and Danny over. Life has to slow down and it will. I love hte direction its going.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Another writing prompt - to write about the pleasure of all five senses, inspired this poem of one sweet moment this evening.


Room smells of neroli, orange blossom
scent, brides and babies. Smooth
clean sheet under cheek, feather soft
baby hair pressed sweaty in crook of arm,
Sea taste of salt, abundant life,on tongue
when I steal tiny lick of precious fuzz.
Easy cadence of breath, yours, mine,
your mother's,all relaxed, gentle slow,
as we rest on Sabbath after hard day's
work. Piles of boxes glimpsed promise
more evenings of delight. You're moving in!

Victoria Hendricks, September 4, 2009
Sabbath and a holiday weekend - both feel great. Our service tonight was sweet. Liam sat on his parent's laps, responded to the music with claps and sways, just soaked up the love. We have a small community and so Liam is really known, as is the fact of Mira's death before his birth. In some ways she seems as present in services as he does and that feels good.

There's a great big Ryder truck in the driveway full with a load from storage unit and house to take to estate sale people. I have surprisingly few qualms about parting with items from my parents' and grandparents' homes, and from my life with Kerry. It seems to be time. Of course I'm not parting with everything. I am impressed with my body, not as strong as Ruth, but plenty able to cary my weight of big chests and book shelves. That feels good, reassuring.

Bob will be home tomorrow and the estate sale stuff will be gone. Both of those things please me. Still lots of work to go here, but getting the estate items out is a huge step.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A writing group promt this week was to write about "the pleasure of not being perfect". I have plenty of opportunities to savor that pleasure, and especially right now. The complexities of the co-housing, all the new activities and patterns as well as stuff out of place, make mistakes and miscommunications easier and there have been more than usual. I so love the way Ruth and Chris handle these kinds of problems. The following poem is true - and the good news is that the mistake was not as expensive as we feared.

The Pleasure of Not Being Perfect

I put the diaper service diapers in the trash
this morning. Expensive mistake. Part mine,
Part Ruth's. She didn't give clear directions.
I didn't put mental pieces together properly.
It's OK. We'll pay for more diapers. We
accept our mistakes, each other's too.
Perfection is not required. Big relief.

Victoria Hendricks, September 3, 2009

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Chris fixed saffron rice and chicken with black bean sauce tonight. Yum. Getting our belongings honed down further and further is so much work - but worth it. At the moment I'm trying to create some kind of system for our nonfiction -should probalby use Dewey decimal or Library of Congress system or something official - tiring.

An odd and amusing tidbit - the Zulu word for ceel phone means "the screaming in the pocket."