Saturday, January 06, 2007

1061 Petra

Saturday, January 06, 2007

I want to go to Petra, in Jordan. Take the tour (enter through The Siq, at the bottom). See more pictures. [Later edit - I just spent two hours perusing the "pictures" site. It takes you through step by step, in an easy to follow way. It's wonderful!]

First thing I need to do is find someone to go with me.

I will touch the stone! I will buy Bedouin jewelry! And dresses! And shawls!

I want to do this soon, like within the next two years. I checked the state department advisories, and right now it looks ok. Who knows how long that will be true.

I wanna!


1060 Walking It Off

Saturday, January 06, 20067

[Edit - another date correction. Ignore.]

Daughter called at about 2:30 today. She and Hercules were on the road headed for Pennsylvania for his grandmother's ninetieth birthday. She said that it was in the seventies today, and I should go for a walk. She says walking helps her to keep colds from going into her chest, so it should be good for me.

If Daughter lived anywhere but north central New Jersey, I might believe her.

It was 3:30 before I got started walking. I decided not to walk on my road because I didn't want to have to climb the hill to get back home, so I drove into the village to walk. I figured that way, if I collapsed on the street, somebody would find me sooner.

It was 65 degrees, with a stiff cool breeze. Bleck. It may have been warmer earlier, but setting out an hour before the sun went down was probably not the best idea. My hair is still pasty, so I had worn a hat and was grateful for it. I kept hoping I wouldn't see anyone I knew, because I look like death warmed over. My eyes are red, my nose is swollen, and something strange is going on with my cheeks and neck - they look saggier than normal.

I walked a total of maybe six blocks and then gave up. My knees were tired.

If it's nice tomorrow, I'll try again, but earlier. I might even wash my hair first.


1059 Thirteen Photos

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Roba, at "And Far Away..." found this, and I'm passing it along. Thirteen Photographs That Changed the World, with the stories behind them. This one is my favorite:

"Migrant Mother"
Dorothea Lange, 1936

Would you believe the woman in the photo is only 32 years old?

Friday, January 05, 2007

1058 The Medicine Chest

Friday, January 05, 2007

I started to respond to a comment on an earlier entry, and that reminded me of something else, so here I am, still soupless.

A friend swears by NyQuil. I get sick so seldom that there's never anything in the medicine cabinet when I need it, or it's long past the expiration date. The e-date on the Contac box, for example, is 06/2000. My NyQuil e-date is 04/2005. Kate recommends TheraFlu (sp?). Is that the stuff that you fizz in water, like Alka-Seltzer? I had a box of fizzy tablets in there, I forget what it was exactly, but when I opened the box, all the packets were all swollen up. I popped one, and it exploded white powder. I suspect that e-date was expired, too.

So, after this is over, I'll go out and restock the cabinet, and that alone will keep me healthy for another five years, or at least until everything has well expired again.

What that reminded me of - I have a pretty complete first responder kit in the back of the van. In the middle of all those sensor woes in early summer, I decided I should move it to the Aerio, since I wasn't driving the van. When I pulled it out of the van, I checked it.

The BP cuff, stethoscope, thermometer, gloves, masks, flat-nosed scissors for cutting clothing, packets of alcohol, various creams and so on, all the interesting stuff one would think, were all still there. But ALL the bandaids, gauze, pads, and tape were gone. Disappeared. All of it. There was quite a lot in there, back before all those service visits.

Very strange. Doesn't make any sense to me.... I guess someone needed to restock their first aid kit.

1057 Up and Moving

Friday, January 05, 2006 2007

[Edit - another date correction. Ignore. I'm gonna keep doing this until I get it RIGHT!]

Temp was below 100 this morning, below 99 now. Nose swollen, but clear. I can breathe through it, but mostly I don't because that makes it tickle, and sneezing hurts, and scares the cat. So now my lips are all chapped. Sinuses still ache, and glands under my jaw are very swollen. Coughing, but I think that's from sinus drainage. If it doesn't go into my chest, I should be lots better pretty soon.

I got several phone calls today. Most of it was pretty good news. Roman says they've figured out what was causing his mother's problems, they're treating it, and she should be ok. Daughter reports that she and Hercules have an appointment to look at houses for sale. FirstWoman got some very nice news from a past love. The year is starting out pretty good, I think.

I went to the deli today, and brought home some cream of broccoli soup. (I'd have had to go to the grocery store to get clam chowder, and from two days of sweating and hot soaks, my hair was in no condition for that, and I didn't feel like washing it.) I also got a small container of macaroni salad, which was very good, wish I'd got more. I haven't tried the soup yet. Will do that in a few minutes.

It was warm today, but drizzling. It's supposed to be very warm tomorrow, and dry. I hope to get out to feel it.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

1056 Reporting In

Thursday, January 04, 2006

Nose was running a lot until about 7 pm today, and then it stopped. Swollen now, but dry, I can breathe through it. Temperature 100.9. Sweating. Body aches. Everywhere. Very little coughing, lots of sneezing. Headache. I think there might be something going on in the sinuses. No chest or abdominal involvement.

So far I've treated the body aches with bathtub soaks. I've been able to short-circuit the throat by gargling with firewater (mouthwash) every time I think of it. All I've taken otherwise is a little aspirin for the headache. I have this theory that fever and phlegm has a purpose, so I leave them alone until they seem to be getting out of control. So far, so good. I plan to use a littleVicks Vaporub on my chest tonight, just to keep things open.

I've been in bed all day with Miss Thunderfoot snuggled against my knees, a heating pad on low under the small of my back, TV, crossword puzzles, and a book. I doze off and on.

I couldn't think of anything I wanted to eat, until I settled on either New England clam chowder or cream of potato soup. I don't have either in the house (I thought I did), so I had some sugar-free ice cream, and lots of iced tea. Everything else seemed like it took too much effort, or it would "fill or scratch my throat too much" - I don't know how to explain that, but that's what it felt like when I rejected it.

If I don't feel any worse tomorrow, I might go get some canned chowder. It's going to stick in my brain until I do.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

1055 Tempting Fate

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I went out Sunday night, spent many hours in a series of rooms with people packed in so tight they actually pushed on our table to get by.

Monday I had dinner with Daughter and Hercules. Daughter has been fighting a sore throat (a.k.a. New Jersey Throat) for a few weeks.

Monday evening Roman called to say Happy New Year. He said his head was all stopped up.

Tuesday morning, Piper called to cancel our planned lunch. He sounded terrible. Head and throat.

I made the mistake of saying to Piper that it seemed like everyone I knew was sick, and that I seemed to have lucked out so far. And then I immediately regretted saying it when I heard Fate laughing from the next room.

At precisely 3:10 today, as if someone fired a starting gun, my nose began running, and a hot spot sprang up in the back of my throat. Things have since gone downhill. Me no feel so good.


I'm sure I'd have been ok if I hadn't tempted Fate.


1054 Weasel Words

Wednesday, January 03,. 2006

I have to confess to something that has been bothering me. In the previous entry, I used a "weasel word" when I said "...let's just say I had been effectively celibate for eight years when I decided it wasn't working." I was dissembling. Roman has rubbed off on me, I guess.

There are a few people who might read that sentence, and know it's not strictly true, and that would make everything else I say suspect, so I guess I should explain it.

Ex#2 and I had been in marriage counselling for years when it became pretty clear that he was not interested in changing anything. I continued in individual psychotherapy with the last psychiatrist we had seen together, twice a week for another 4.5 years. I had some serious problems of my own. Something about a "poorly integrated personality". Ex#2 was put on some antidepressants, but had no interest in any other therapy.

And so things dragged along for years and years. I was very unhappy. Toward the end, I still wanted to save the marriage, but it was obvious that I couldn't go on that way. I couldn't continue in a relationship where my husband didn't speak to me for weeks at a time, where there was no intimacy, where when he did speak to me, half the time it was a lie. The psychiatrist said that I had a few choices.
  1. Ex#2 and I could continue as things were, with me lonely and unhappily celibate.
  2. I could develop friendships outside the marriage, and remain celibate.
  3. I could have secret affairs outside the marriage.
  4. Ex#2 and I could agree to have an open marriage, where I would be allowed to openly take lovers.
  5. We could separate.
#1 was unacceptable. I couldn't do that any more. I was doing #2, but it wasn't enough. I still felt unloved. In about the fourth and fifth years of the marriage, I had tried #3, but that was when I was very weak (the "poorly integrated" thing) and it made me feel very bad and out of control, and I spiralled down. It was very bad for me. I knew without asking that #4 was impossible. I didn't want #5 yet, but the tension in the marriage was beginning to affect Daughter. She was working her little six-year-old tail off trying to get Ex#2's attention, a near impossible task. (That's STILL a problem. Removal of the tension didn't fix that.) So, anyway, something had to change.

Dr. K recommended that I try #3 again. It seemed like the only option. Dr. K. said that I was stronger now, and that I could be in control .

I had a very brief fling with someone I didn't really like. I chose him precisely because I didn't like him. (That way he would be not threat to my intending to stay married, and I wouldn't much care what he thought of me.) Parts were very satisfactory (my not caring what he thought of me was very freeing - think about that a minute), but, well, I didn't like him. So then I had an equally brief fling with someone I liked. And then I found that I didn't like him any more. I lost respect for him because he was messing around with a married woman! I didn't see how he could respect me, either, and I was in danger of losing my own self-respect. So, I proved #3 wouldn't work, either. There was no way it could be acceptable to me.

And right about then, Ex#2 and I were having an argument about something [another lie] and he said "So, what do you want to do about it. I suppose you want a divorce?" Right up until that moment, I hadn't seriously considered it, but somehow, when he said it like that, like he dared me, I knew. I said yes, I do want a divorce. It's over. I'm finished.

So, that's where the "effectively" came from. Sorta like the small deviation from enforced celibacy was necessary "therapy", and didn't count.


What kind of lies did Ex#2 tell?

Every year The Company threw a big Christmas party for employees' children. You had to sign up with the department secretary and get tickets. I asked him to sign Daughter up. The first time I asked him if he'd done it yet, he said he'd forgotten, but he would "tomorrow". The next day I asked him, and he'd forgotten again, but he'd do it "tomorrow". The next day, I called him at work and reminded him, and he told me he'd just done it, it was all taken care of. He'd actually get the tickets in a few days.

"Did you pick up the tickets yet?" "Tomorrow." Take two aspirin and repeat three times.

Then I found out that he would be out of town for two weeks, over the weekend of the party. The last workday before he left, I reminded him that he MUST pick up the tickets today, so we'd have them for next weekend. He forgot. But he assured me he'd call the secretary on Monday, and she'd have them ready for me to pick up. Monday evening I called him at his hotel and asked where I should get the tickets. He said that the secretary, Miss So-and-so, said that she would be at the party, Daughter and I should just go, and she'd give them to me there.

Daughter and I arrived at the doors of a hotel ballroom. Four-year-old Daughter was excited. Through the doors we could see a mountain of gifts, being handed out by Santa. There were balloons and rides, and food stations like at a fair, hot dog steam carts, cotton candy, everything to thrill a child. She was hopping up and down impatiently while I asked around for Miss So-and-so. I found her.

Yeah. Ex#2 had never signed up for the tickets, had never even spoken to her about them.

They couldn't allow us in.

Daughter cried. I cried. We were told we could go in, but Daughter would not get a gift and could not have any food.

So we went in and walked around, and looked at all the things we couldn't have, and then I took her to Chuck-e-Cheese (or however you spell that, I'm not looking it up) and we had our own party. But it didn't make up for what had happened.

Of course, Ex#2 swore he'd done all the things he said he'd done, he had a clear and detailed memory of having done it, but I know now what had happened. He'd lie and tell me something was done just to satisfy me, figuring that he would then be sure to do it the next day and make it right. And then he would imagine doing it, perhaps to lock it into his memory so he wouldn't forget, and by the next day he had a clear "memory" of having done it.

It happened over and over. He'd swear he did something, or told me something, or paid for something, when it was obvious to the world that he hadn't. This incident stands out because it wasn't just me that got hurt. Eventually I learned to check up on everything. You never knew whether something he said was true, or just imagined.

That's when he spoke to me at all.

He didn't even speak to me when it was important. I'd cook dinner, and sit there waiting, and he'd not come home all night. I'd call his office the next day, and the secretary would tell me he was out of town on business. It was embarrassing that she had to tell me. After the second time that happened, I learned to count his underwear when he didn't come home. That was how I'd know he was away, and for approximately how long.

I was married to him for 13 years. I married him because I thought his not pushing me into sex meant he respected me, and I knew he'd never hit me. I guess I tilted too far in my quest for safety. It was because I knew that I'd married him for the wrong reasons that I tried so hard for so long to make it right.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

1053 Ask Me - Answer - Paramour Before Jay?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Another from post 1049, where I invited questions.

TheQueen wants to know "who was your paramour before Jay?"

Hmmmm. How far before? I have a long, colorful, passionate past. There's a trail of broken men (which seems to have tapered off significantly in the past twenty-five years, sob) and there are a few I've loved forever still standing, out there, somewhere, lost.

Let's restrict it to after I left Ex#2.

We were living in near Washington DC when I decided to leave him, in 1982, I believe. Without going into details, let's just say I had been effectively celibate for eight years when I decided it wasn't working. (I really gave it the good old college try, I really did.)

I got a job here, back with The Company, for whom I had worked before. Ex#2 followed me, transferring here and buying a house close enough that Daughter, who was in second grade, could go to either house on the school bus.

In Washington, my only social outlet had been Mensa. Ex#2 wasn't interested in going out, ever, so I went to the dinners and parties alone. The last two years one of my best friends in Washington Mensa was a guy named Ed. We happened to have exactly the same birthday. He was tall and ultra-skinny, with one of the unprettiest faces I'd ever seen. Big hooked nose. Pale blue eyes that always looked like he didn't get enough sleep. Skraggly beard. He'd shave his head every spring, and then until the next spring he'd let it grow out into a matted, light brown, dense mass that stuck out and crackled around his head (think Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein, but worse). Very intelligent (you can't say that about everyone in Mensa). Dressed like a hippie. Well, worse than a hippie. Worked for PBS.

We never arranged to be at the same parties, but when by chance we were, you'd find us sitting on the floor in a corner, talking. We talked for hours, about everything and nothing. We seemed to really click. We "read" each other perfectly. He also gave great (platonic) back rubs. He had a very relaxed attitude toward everything (except the management of PBS).

Just before I left, I called him and asked him to be at the last party I went to before moving to NY, and when I told him at the party that I was leaving, he was very distressed. We went outside, and he held me and kissed me for the first time, on the sidewalk, a lot. But neither of us said anything about keeping in touch.

And then I moved.

About six weeks after I moved, I found him on my doorstep, unannounced. A mutual friend had given him my address. He had started out for "just a Sunday drive", and six hours later arrived in the Mid-Hudson Valley. I really didn't know quite what to do with him. I hadn't had time to think about it, or him, or what I wanted. He had to be back to work the next morning, so we spent the day in the mountains, exploring old Catskill hotel trails and waterfalls, and then he drove the six hours back to Northern Virginia.

There followed many long phone calls and letters (no cell phones or internet then), until there came a 4-day holiday weekend, when Ex#2 planned to take Daughter to visit her grandmother. An opportunity. I tacked a few more days on and drove to his place, and spent the long weekend with him. I knew I loved him a lot, in some way, but I wasn't sure what way, and I wanted to find out.

By the time I got back home, I was very much in love.

It took me about two weeks to come down from that high. I realized it just wouldn't work, not long term. Even though we seemed like separated twins, even though I could and did love him, and he loved me, I realized that if we were together constantly we'd drive each other crazy. We both need some bit of separation, some aloneness, and we were just too much "into" each other's heads. We'd end up resenting each other, fighting each other off, keeping secrets just to have something of our own.

We also had very different lifestyle expectations and management styles. For example, he had a Lamborghini rotting into the ground in the back yard because it needed a part he'd never got around to ordering. A Lamborghini. Rotting. Because he kept forgetting. And because he didn't have a garage. For the Lamborghini. The white Lamborghini with the split in the convertible top, the split that was letting water in on the red glove-leather upholstery. It didn't bother him at all. Sorry, but I just can't be THAT relaxed.

Then again, maybe, after thirteen years of being ignored by Ex#2, and newly divorced and "off men", I was just afraid of so much closeness.

Whatever. The calls and letters tapered off when he realized I wasn't pushing for more time together.

And then I met Jay, several months later.

In 1984 or '85 there was a very brief fling with someone I was "set up" with by mutual friends who thought we'd be perfect together. He was the type who leaps out of bed and takes a shower immediately after sex. Without even checking to see if we were, uh, finished. Not very flattering. Didn't last long, and I had no feelings for him, really, except a friendship. We're still friends. He still annoys me.

And after that there was no one else but Jay, no dating, no petting, no sex, no interest except Jay, until Roman woke me up, in July 2005, damn him.

Now I'm hungry again, and there's nothing on the table.


1052 Retirement Decision

Tuesday, December January 02, 2007

[Later edit - I was so proud of getting the year right! I got the month wrong. Again.]

I have to make a decision in the next day or two. As Jay's widow, I am entitled to half of Jay's Company retirement. He had worked for The Company only about 16 years, and The Company is notoriously parsimonious toward retirees, so the total amount is pitifully small. My half of it will barely pay for groceries.

Because Jay was so much younger than I, he wouldn't be eligible for full retirement until March 5, 2017, however, he'd have been eligible to begin collecting a reduced amount as of this March. So I have to decide when to start collecting. A reduced amount now, or wait a year or two or five for a smaller reduction, or wait for the full amount in 2017?

If I start collecting now, I'd get $200 a month less than if I wait until 2017. I'll be 72 in 2017. If I even live that long. (Considering the pitiful amount to begin with, that $200 is significant.)

I'll have to call the company tomorrow to check numbers. If I wait five more years, will the reduction be only $100? (I doubt it - I suspect the penalty is greater in the early part and lesser later.) Would that make a difference anyway, since I'd be trading today dollars for 2012 or 2017 dollars? And I can invest what pittance they do send me. I bet I can make up the loss by 2017. Heck, I KNOW I can. I can more than double it in ten years!

I can just about guarantee there won't be much of a COLA raise by 2017, if any. They're almost unheard of from The Company. I've had two raises from Social Security and none on my own retirement from The Company in the past five years. Instead, they keep raising the medical plan contribution (for the medical insurance that, at the time I retired, they verbally promised would be free for life. Verbally. The small print said that anything could be changed at any time, so there! "Buck you Fuddy, you powerless retirees! We've got to finance these multi-million dollar golden parachutes somehow...".) It almost looks like their plan is to eventually nibble it all back.

I guess maybe I should get the financial exposure from Piper first, he might advise me to wait another year, because we've still balancing and there will be another capital gains hit this year, but if the penalty is still about $200 in another year, I can't see why I should wait.

Ahah! An argument for Piper! I can just put it all in an indexed mutual fund IRA to remove the tax hit, and earn on it faster than The Company would pretend to earn on it for me. Yeah!

Ok. Piper's out of it.

Sounds like I've decided.

1051 Ask Me - Answer - How Jay and I Met

January 02, 2007

[Later edit - I was so proud of getting the year right! I got the month wrong.]

In entry 1049 I invited questions. So far I've had only one, and it's a very dangerous one. Not dangerous for me, dangerous for you. It happens to be one of my favorite topics, and I could write an entire screenplay about it. It's a very romantic story.

Becs asks how Jay and I met.

In 1983 The Company moved our product group from Poughkeepsie to a new building in Kingston. There was already one department there when the other 250 of us arrived, a group of 8 who had been moved from Texas to Kingston to work on an experimental design.

One day I walked into a friend's office, El, to go to lunch with her, and there was a man sitting in her chair working on her computer. Just as I rounded the corner, he pressed a key, said "Oops", and froze, and the instant I heard his voice I fell in love. He had a soft smooth very deep voice, and the "oops" was pronounced as to rhyme with "coops", and there was something very funny about the way his eyebrows shot up and he froze.

I fell in love before I saw his face. I had a side-rear view. He was so tall that our heads were level while he was sitting and I was standing. His shoulders were, no exaggeration, two feet wide. Soft and fine hair, full short beard, and eyes the color of black coffee. He was wearing a dark three-piece suit, vest and all. He was impressive. The first thing I focused on was a spot at the top of his neck behind his left ear - a spot where the hair was a bit thin and softly curly, a vulnerable spot, and I wanted to touch it. That was the second thing I fell in love with.

El introduced us, and he left. I said to her, "My God! How on earth did I miss that walking the halls!" She said he had moved up with the Texas group, he was the lead designer, so he hadn't been with us in Poughkeepsie, and besides, he was extremely shy and rarely left his office. She said he was the most intelligent and knowledgeable person she'd ever met.

As I've said, I didn't know how to flirt. I wanted to flirt so badly, and I didn't know how without looking foolish. When I asked El who he ate lunch with, she said he probably just took something from the cafeteria back to his office, or got a sandwich from the machines in the hall. So I invited him to have lunch with our usual group of four to six. El or I would go to his office every day and drag him out.

Six weeks after our first meeting, he and I were standing at the bulletin board outside the cafeteria reading about a rafting trip sponsored by the employee club, and he turned to me and asked if Daughter and I would be interested in that. I was so happy, and so excited. Finally! He was asking me out! I said oh yes, we'd love it, and he said "Good. They want four in a raft, so with you two and me and my wife, that makes four."


There's something you have to understand about Jay. Much later, when we found out about the Asperger's, it explained a lot. But even back then, it was somehow obvious that you didn't touch Jay. Like when you are looking over a sitting coworker's shoulder, it's natural to put your hand on his shoulder, or when kidding someone, to touch their arm. But there was some kind of silent signal about Jay, a sort of dignity, a pulling back. You didn't touch him. In his last days, when he was blind and bedridden, a coworker visited, and before I took her into the bedroom I told her that she should sit on his right, and put her hand on his right arm so he'd know where she was, and she looked startled, "Touch him? You don't touch Jay! Are you sure it would be ok?"

Likewise, he never spoke of his personal life, and somehow you knew not to ask. So nobody knew he was married.

We went on the raft trip. His wife told me that they were married only a few months, that they had been dating in Texas when his transfer came, so they got married real quick.

And that was the end of that for me. I still loved and admired him, but I gave up on any hope. We were friends. We ate lunch together every day, in the group, for the next seven years. We noticed that he tended to forget time and work very late, so either El or I would stop by his office at quitting time and stand in his doorway until he closed up, and then walk him to his car to make sure he actually left. I noticed that he always called home before leaving, and his wife would tell him what takeout to pick up for dinner. She was a teacher, and off all summer, but apparently she rarely cooked.

He was a technical resource in our product area, and all day there'd be people lined up outside his office waiting for their turn for advice. It was difficult for him to get his own work done. So along about 1987, he started working from my office after lunch. I had a big office with several terminals and worktables. Everybody knew that's where he was, but for some reason, nobody bothered him when he was in my office unless it was an emergency. So for three years we were together from about 11:30 'til 5:30 every day.

And except for once accidentally stepping back into him at the bulletin board one day (and I remember that because instead of stepping back himself, he stepped slightly forward, and we held a five second contact - absolutely remarkable!) we had never, during all that time, so much as touched a sleeve.

In 1990, I'd about had it with some nasty office politics, so when I was offered a transfer to the litigation lab in Poughkeepsie, I accepted the offer. Daughter was 15 then, and Poughkeepsie was a much shorter commute, so it would be good for me both personally and professionally.

Jay hated the telephone as much as I did, but he called me at the litigation lab five, six, seven times a day, whenever he heard or read or thought anything interesting. We missed each other terribly.

About three weeks after the transfer, I heard of a free program at a college about two miles from his house, where they bring in Nobel Prize winners on summer weekends to speak on various science topics, and teachers can get continuing ed credits for attending. They have a preliminary lecture in the morning, serve a free lunch, and then have the main speaker in the afternoon. I mentioned to him that I intended to attend, and that his wife might be interested in picking up a few credits. He said that she'd be bored by the topic, but that he'd like to go.

That weekend, we parked at the same time at opposite ends of the parking lot on campus, and looked up and saw each other. You know the scene in the movies where the two run toward each other in slow motion through a field of daisies? Yeah, just like that, only through a gravel parking lot. When we met, we didn't know what to do. We stood a foot apart and just stared at each other. And then he bent down and kissed me. He tasted of mint toothpaste.

We went to the weekend lectures all summer, but there was no more touching. We often took our lunches outside and sat on a bench and talked.

Three months after my transfer, I happened to be in Kingston for a meeting. El had told me that he had started working very late again, so at 5:30 I stopped at his office to surprise him and drag him out. "Hi! Time to go home! Move it!" He looked up, and his face fell, and he actually teared up. I closed the door and asked what was wrong, and he said that he didn't want to go home, "nobody's there." I asked if his wife was away, and he said "No. She's there. But there's nobody home."

We sat there for a good two hours. He opened up completely. They were living two separate lives. They'd had separate bedrooms since a few weeks after the wedding. He had no idea what she thought any more. He thought she didn't like him, but kept him because he was useful.

We talked a lot after that. I asked him if he wanted to stay married, and he said he had to make it work, that he'd made a commitment. I told him he had to talk about it with her, tell her that he was unhappy. He said he didn't dare, that "she'll punish me." It turned out that whenever he displeased her, she'd get "sick". She was "getting sick" a lot lately, and it was all his fault.

I pushed him into suggesting counselling. She refused until she decided that he was in love with me. Apparently my name turned up a lot. So then she agreed because obviously he needed fixing. Over the next two years, they went through something like six different counsellors. Every time a counsellor suggested that maybe she needed to do something different, she'd decide this one was no good and she'd refuse to go back. The last one (whom Jay stayed with on his own, and then with me, for a few more years) took Jay aside and told him that in her opinion, there was no hope. Either he accepted things as they were, that he would be lonely in his marriage, or he called it quits and got a divorce.

He did. Shocked me. I didn't think he was capable of it. Once he decided that's what he had to do, I admit I worked hard to hold him to that course. I'm not entirely a nice person, I can be self-serving, even if I hate myself for it.

He convinced HER to file for divorce, and he moved into a motel, where he lived for the next two years. When they got the legal separation, that's when Jay and I finally really touched.

I soon discovered something significant. Jay had very bad sleep apnea. He would start snoring very loudly and then stop breathing, and then would go through choking and thrashing before he'd get his breath back. Because his oxygen level would get very low, he had bad night terrors. He was completely unaware of any of it! It's pretty obvious that's why the wife had kicked him out of the bedroom, but she had never said anything to him about it, never told him why.

Me, I'm different. I dragged him to a sleep lab, where they said he had the worst case of apnea they'd ever seen. He stopped breathing 80 times an hour! In three nights of tests, he got no REM sleep, no deep sleep. They didn't see how he could possibly be sane.

He got a CPAP (constant positive airways pressure) machine, and and the snoring and choking stopped. The night terrors took a little longer, but eventually they stopped, too.

Ya gotta give me credit. I told him that this might go a long way toward fixing one of the biggest problems in their marriage. Did he want to try again? He said no, that if he went back to her, not only would things not be any different, she'd punish him for the rest of his life.

The divorce was final in December of 1993, and he and I were married in January 1994.

The brain cancer appeared in October of 1998, and he died in October of 2001.

And that's the story. I guess I could have simply answered that we met in 1983 when we worked together, started dating in (when? 1992?), and married in 1994, but that leaves out so much.

There is a cute side story. When I found out that Jay had feelings for me beyond a strong friendship and a professional respect, I was so amazed and so happy, I told El and one of the other female coworker friends, "Guess what ...!" They both, separately, rolled their eyes at me and said, "So what else is new? You didn't know how he felt about you? Oh, come on! It was so obvious!" It turned out that everyone we knew, everyone we worked with, had figured we'd been sleeping together for years! He and I were the only ones who didn't know how each of us felt about the other.

Monday, January 01, 2007

1050 New Year in Assuit

Monday, January 01, 2007 (Ahah! I got the year right! That may be the last time this month....)

Well, I got some surprise visitors. Welcome, Patrick. I'm flattered to have such a perceptive (and illustrious) visitor. And Shaun - in answer to your original (search) question, SiteMeter shows greater than "0:00" as the length of a visit only when the visitor leaves by clicking on something on your page, because SiteMeter can "see" that. If the visitor left by going to a bookmarked site, or hitting "Back", or entering a URL in the browser "go to" bar, SiteMeter has no opportunity to calculate the time because that click is invisible to SiteMeter.


FirstWoman and I had a very good time last night. I got home about 3:30 am.

I had to leave the house a little after 7 pm to be there by 8, and I didn't even think about what I would wear until 4. I have absolutely nothing that even approaches "American festive" or cocktail wear, not even a "little black dress". Small panic. But then I remembered that I'd bought a very good close-fitting Assuit dress at Rakkasah last October. I hemmed it right quick, and located a long black lycra dress to wear under it, and with big silver hoop earrings, silver bangle bracelets, and high-heeled sandals, I was ready to go. It was a very good choice. Got a lot of compliments on it. (More on Assuit below.)

The band was terrific. They played all the OLD Rolling Stones hits, and I actually got up and danced! You have to know me to know how extraordinary that is. I define shy and self-conscious. At one point FirstWoman and I were sitting across the table from each other, and she said "You know, I feel like I'm in the presence of a lady." I raised eyebrows, and she explained that I have "that air" about me. I laughed and told her that she is total Free Spirit, and that probably meant we could be very good for each other. She grinned.

I think I'm right. I danced! In public! I might even do it again sometime. (Several women told me that they enjoyed watching me. I guess I have graceful arms. One woman, a complete stranger, said as she left, "Good night, Beautiful. Happy New Year." What a boost! I can't stop burbling.)

Daughter and Hercules were up this way for a party (about an hour south), and had stayed over, so she called about 2 pm this afternoon, and we met partway between for late lunch/early dinner. Luckily, Daughter remembered that we needed to eat sauerkraut for luck. I've heard that this custom, sauerkraut on New Year's Day, is German and/or Polish, but my mother was pure Welsh, and she insisted on it, too, so it's probably widespread. I didn't have sauerkraut last year for the first time ever, and look what happened in 2006. Ok, Mom, now I believe. So, anyway, we had a small side dish which we shared.

Actually, now that I think about it, 2006 wasn't all that bad. Except for Roman's breaking my heart, and the roof leaking into the kitchen, and the van's computer faking everyone out for six months and a few thousand dollars, everything else was pretty good. Very good, even. Daughter got married, Sister and I reconnected, my woods got cleared for free, I made some new friends, got involved with some community activities, lost a few more pounds, ... and I didn't even have to eat sauerkraut for all that.


Assuit: Assuit is a city in Egypt, on the Nile, I believe. Assuit fabric is a cotton or cotton/silk see-through net (usually black) with bits of metal attached to the net. They cut small elongated diamonds of thin metal, fold them over the mesh net so the ends cross on the back, then they hammer them until they're smooth and tight. The metal is applied to the dress or shawl in fancy geometric patterns.

You can buy an inexpensive Assuit dress for less than $100. A good one is several times that. The cheap ones are stiff, the metal is too soft and will start to come loose and will scratch inside, and it tarnishes quickly. I bought a cheap one a few years ago just to try it out.

The higher quality ones are very soft net, fit better, and use a higher quality metal. The one I bought last October is a very good one. The quality is directly proportional to the cost.

The best ones flow softly, and the metal is real silver, pounded ultra-thin. Rather rare, and a bit heavy for normal wear.

The above is an Assuit coverup, for sale at

Above is a loose Assuit caftan, available by special order from This one appears to be lined. I am seriously considering ordering one from them (unlined), custom sized, so I don't have to cut any of the design off to tailor it to me.

Mine is semi-fitted, with a very wide and deep V opening in front (closeable with a hook and eye at the top) down to below bra band level, and wide sleeves like the top photo. For bellydance, you'd wear it over a decorated silver bra and a straight skirt, with a matching scarf around the hips. For "going out", they look nice over a body suit or sleeveless lycra dress. I think next time I wear it, I'll try for a turquoise or pale green underdress.

This is a scan of a bit of the hem I had to cut off my dress:

An enlargement, showing the metal bits and how they're attached:

It's all done by hand.

I like being different.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

1049 Ask Me - An Invitation

Sunday, December 31, 2006

There are about 30 people who return to this blather on a regular basis (ok, at least twice in the past three weeks - I'm easily flattered). Only maybe 5 or 6 ever leave comments, and that's fine. I'm not looking for comments. Besides which, Blogger doesn't make it easy, by implying that you have to log in (you don't actually have to - if you don't have a blogger account, it skips over the log in).

So, partly to involve lurkers (my curiosity), and to give anyone out there an opportunity for fun (your curiosity), I promise to truthfully answer any question posed to me in a comment on this entry. It may not be a complete answer, but it will be a true answer.

Ask away.


1048 The Strange Thing

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Well, referring to the previous post, it IS him. He replied to my note this morning. But nobody should get all hopeful about any romantic connections. I'm not. He's WAY out of my league. Even if he isn't, the female competition would be. I doubt he is tired of beauty and sophistication, so I'm not thinking anything interesting could happen. I was just startled to find him "out there", and I'd like to reconnect in a casual way.

He says we could have lunch later in the month.

He mentioned that he'd been dating someone, and they'd broken up, and a friend signed him up on the site, and he's enjoying meeting new women (although nobody lives up to their profiles), but he's still in touch with the old love and they may yet get back together.

Hmmmm. Where have I heard that before?

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!


Sunday, December 31, 2006

The strangest thing has just happened.

I've been "killing" my online dating subscriptions one by one as each subscription came up for renewal. There are only two left now, one should die in two weeks. I haven't visited that site in at least a month. I get about one "sniff" a week from men on that site, but they are always much too far away, and I just reply directly from the email notice with a canned "Sorry - too far" message.

I also never run searches. I see the same local guys over and over on every site, and it's just too discouraging (especially when the only likely ones who turn up are those I've already met).

My profiles say "I am unlikely to make first contact. If you live within 30 miles, and meet my (admittedly loose) criteria, please take the initiative." And I don't make first contact. Frankly, there are very few I'd care to contact.

I don't know why, but I went to that site this evening (it's a little after 1 am now), and just for fun, I ran a search. In hopes of finding someone other than the usual slobs, I asked that the results be sorted by newest members first.

I almost fell off my chair.

There's a guy I worked with way back when. I've always had a crush on him. He's gorgeous! He always took my breath away when I saw him in the halls. He's also a really nice guy. I've seen his girlfriends/wives at company functions, and they were always these tall willowy beautiful very sophisticated-looking types. W-A-Y out of my league.

His profile was at the top of my search list this evening. Apparently he is newly divorced. I can't imagine his having to resort to an online match-up.

Another odd thing is that I mentioned him in this blog almost exactly one year ago.

So I sent him a note, asking if it really was him, and suggesting lunch (but, in my note, I said "not a 'match' date, just lunch"). Given his search criteria, it's possible he has already seen my profile and, uh, skimmed over it. I'm really going to feel bad if he doesn't respond.

I almost hope it isn't him.