Monday, May 28, 2007

We're Home

Thank God. A thousand miles in essentially two days is too much. Montana is as green as an emerald and full of speeders. I can still jitterbug and two-step with the cowboys upstairs at the Eagles. Young Newly Weds glow. Fat is evil. Yellowstone is full of exquisite Japanese ladies in black plastic garbage bags, or it was this rainy morning. And death by mineral water tea is this season's spousal murder. Will write more when I can think again.

Take care. Love Bea

Thursday, May 24, 2007


We leave for Montana tomorrow. I am excited. We have to go through both Parks to get up there. A season pass for the Parks is outrageous. I am in sticker shock. It goes up every year. Oh well, I guess it is the price of keeping the roads in fair shape. Teton Park is beautiful but I love Yellowstone the best. I think it is the kid associations. The whole bear deal just gets me. You know, Smoky and Yogi and Booboo. We drive through those entrances and I am a kid again. Funny thing is, I didn't actually see Yellowstone until I was in my thirties. When I was a child it always seemed like the promised land. Like nothing bad could ever happen to you there. A weird fixation for sure, and it continues.

We visit the Park every summer. We have stayed in all the hotels and most of the cabins. They all have their charms but I love Old Faithful Lodge the most. We get a cup of something and sit in the comfy chairs on one of the upper balconies and just watch people in the lobby below. The huge log fire roars, the big clock ticks and we sip and talk and occasionally read. In the midst of all the hubbub I feel totally and completely safe and at ease. I relax. I am nuts about old hotel lobbies. I could sit in them for hours, and have. At Old Faithful Lodge the juxtaposition of all those Japanese tourists against the rustic log backdrop delights me. And all the kids racing around. What fun. We sometimes go out onto the huge log deck to watch Old Faithful blow. We sit in our pew with all the other cheerful relaxed tourists and watch the show. I've seen the geyser enough times now to be more interested in our companions. The grandparents and the kids love it best. And the honeymooners. They all hold hands and watch. Sort of like waiting for fireworks on the Fourth of July. Then comes the action, and the exclamations erupt right along with the geyser. Is wonderful. There is a surprising number of honeymooners. Who would have thought of going to Yellowstone for a honeymoon? Is a grand idea.

Markovian theory # whatever, (I've lost track.)
Women, looking for a quick insurance settlement, lure their husbands to Yellowstone and then do away with them in staged "accidents." For instance, they encourage the hapless husbands to feed the buffalo, by hand. They have the husbands lean w-a-y o-v-e-r a boiling mud pot to get a "good" photo. They pose husbands on canyon ledges and then demand a big energetic wave for the camera. They feed the poor fellows a heavy lunch and then insist on hiking to the bottom of Tower Falls. They send them out camping in bear country with strict instructions to store all perishables inside the tent. They send them into 'off limit' thermal caves to see if the sulfur steam, "smells this bad inside." They push them off the boat during the lake tour. They poison them with huckleberry ice cream.

He has come up with these thus far. Each year he adds to the list. I can't wait to see what this season's murder will be.

Other than the lodge and the geyser itself a big attraction for me at Old Faithful is the walking path. This paved path covers a couple of acres out in front of the lodge. It traverses the river and dozen or more other geysers. It threads its way in and out of trees and up hill and over dale. We get up at the crack of grey dawn and walk. We run into all sorts of wild life, and weary park rangers who have been up all night timing the geysers. Almost no one is out and about. It is a glimpse of what Lewis and Clark may have seen. We enter and exit the ever brightening light through steam from the geysers settled in the low spots. We have had a huge buffalo walk out of the fog to calmly contemplate us on the path. We all stopped stock still and stared at one another. Thank God he eventually ambled off as we were stuck. To get off the path was to be ankle deep in boiling water. A marmot chased us one year. This was before I lost weight. I was almost marmot meal. We have walked nervously through a herd of elk. Owls have glided over us. Birds of every feather have chirped at us. It is magical. By the time the sun is completely up we have made the circuit and are back at the lodge. We then go in and have a sumptuous breakfast. After breakfast we get a paper, more coffee and sit in the lobby and read for half an hour. By then it is 9AM and time for the real adventure to begin.

I can't wait.

Take care of yourselves. Love Bea.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Vacuum

It is snowing. Mark came home for lunch whistling "Walking In a Winter Wonderland." He is unfailingly cheerful. I hate him...frequently.

I have been thinking of many things. Fear, inertia, false expectations and cabbages and kings. I am stressing about our upcoming trip to Montana. Gobs of stuff to do. I usually let all the tasks I set for myself overwhelm and immobilize me. Then I try to do everything at the last minute. I eat the whole way through. This morning I noticed the overwhelmedness (my new word) has a physical component. It feels like a vacuum in my chest. Vacuum in the sense of suck up every particle of food in sight, and vacuum in the sense of hollow. This feeling scares me, or it is fear, I'm not sure which. I try to push it away or down with food. But there is not enough food in the western world to fill this fear full hole. I usually feel like crying along with the vacuum feeling. What I want is to be free of the overwhelmedness. I want to be at peace. Recall my prayer chair.

Aunt Wilma taught me the mechanics of overwhelmedness. She did not believe in slowing down, for anything. She would get overwhelmed and then just keep on pushing, screaming the whole way. This morning I decided to try a different track. I wanted peace. A relief from the fear of not meeting my own expectations. Remember if everything is not perfect I will be punished. (The jury is still out on who will do the punishing.) So I went to my prayer chair and sat for an hour. I did devotions and read a book. I let my mind wander right up into the midst of the fear. I looked at the consequences of not accomplishing all the stuff I think needs to be done before we leave. Not a dire thing in the whole bunch. This lessened much of the fear. After sitting there for my hour I got up and did the thing that was scaring me the most. I was going to put it off and have a sandwich, but changed my mind. Once the worst was over the rest did not seem so bad. I have not felt pushed to get stuff done, and I have accomplished a fair amount. I also let go of the fantasy of cleaning the entire house before we left. Yes it would be wonderful to come home to a clean house, but not at the price I would have to pay to get it cleaned. This decision freed me up to do more important stuff. What a day I'm having.

So, what have I learned? First, when that vacuum feeling starts, I need to feed my soul. It is empty and scared and needs to be stoked and loved before I can get anything else done. This is not procrastination, it is prevention. Second, MOVE. Start with the scariest/hardest thing and get it done. Like birth, once the head is out, it is all downhill from there.

This has been a darn good day, even if my beloved did risk near death by chorusing "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow."

Take care of yourselves. Love Bea

Monday, May 21, 2007

Picture Perfect

Had our photos taken last Sunday for the new church directory. Warning bells going off anyone? We got the proofs this Sunday. We also had a potluck dinner for the Graduates. Louder warning bells? Pictures and potluck. Could there be a more rapid road to ruin? Yes I looked fat. I was shocked. I had thought I looked thinner. I looked like a toad. A big toad. It was just like old times. Just like I had lost no weight at all. I began to eat. I ate until I fell into bed Sunday night. I am okay this morning.

I am incredibly sad. The chimera of thinnitude is gone. I am fat. I have lost some weight but I am still fatter than normal. I had deceived myself into believing I looked normal. I don't. I guess this was/is a good lesson. I even volunteered to get this picture taken. We dressed up and everything. Truth is always better than lies. And Hagen Daz lies.

We go this weekend to see and old friend. Her daughter is getting married. Tammi and I go way back. We were fat teenagers together. She still outweighs me by a bunch. I don't really want to see, as in look at, her any more than she wants to look at me. We have been waltzing around this issue per phone for a month. I wanted to look thin before she saw me. Why? I know it will make her feel awful. But it would have made me feel good. Like I really had lost weight. The look on her face would have validated my weight loss. I love Tammi and do not want to hurt her. And I want to feel thin. If she thought I looked thin, then I really was thin. This convoluted thinking unraveled at the first glimpse of those stinking pictures. We are both still fat.

I am trying to make peace with my continuing girth. But it ain't easy. I have switched wedding outfits. I am not reverting to my jumper, but my formish fitting Easter dress is staying home. (I wore this for the pictures. I did not look "hot". See Easter post.) I am taking loose fitting clothing. I think I am relieved. Now I do not have to carry off the whole "new me' thing. Is much easier to be the old fat me. I am pissed off about being relieved. I want to be the "new me." I don't want to look like Paris Hilton, but I have had it with being a tubby matron. Matron okay, tubby, not. So what to do?

I am back to the tried and true food plan until after we get home, and then it's Atkins and Curves. This for three weeks will get me off the dreaded 181. Then...we'll see. I think my body is used to weighing 181. It is happy here, but I'm not. I am going to give 145 another shot. I may indeed have to learn to love 181 but NOT YET.

Take care of yourselves. Love Bea.

Friday, May 18, 2007

My Prayer Chair

I had another wonderful morning. I spent time again in my prayer chair. I have been looking all over the house for a space that is mine. Dumb really, as the whole house is mine, but I wanted a special spot. I have tried several places. Either they were too cold or didn't have a window or the chair was uncomfortable or something just felt wrong. I do my devotions in the morning. I use several books, my Bible, my journal and a doodling pad. I also have to have room for a cup of tea, a clock and my white crocheted shawl. After making the bed yesterday I sat down to pet the cat. I have an old rocker in the bedroom. It was somebody's cast off I acquired in my travels. It just fits me. It landed in the bedroom for lack of someplace better to put it. I had forgotten how comfortable it was. I sat back to enjoy the comfort of the chair for just a moment, looked out, and knew I had finally found my spot.

This is an old odd house we are renting. I have been trying not to fall in love with it as we are not permanent. Too late. The master suite used to be the kitchen and is configured like a kitchen. The old breakfast nook is now sort of a dressing area. It overlooks the back porch through an old sliding glass door. This is where the rocking chair ended up. Sitting down in that chair has changed my world.

I opened the glass door today and hay scented bird song wafted in. Very birdy here. The back porch/deck is bookended by two old trees. These have now begun to leaf out. Bright green light filters in and onto my chair. I have a view of the entire back yard, a bit of the valley and the green black hills in the distance. The yard is old but some valiant neon lawn struggles on. At present it is more dandelion than grass. The grass looks like it has been spread with good butter. Usually I am anal about the lawn. I want an unblemished carpet of green. But I kind of like this frowzy yellow look. Especially as it is framed in violets. Under all the trees and bushes, are violets. They do indeed smell sweet. The right side of the yard is all old high lilac bushes. They are interrupted at irregular intervals with aspen in their midst. The white bark against the old grey canes and the dark green leaves is striking. The back of the yard is old fence held up by some ancient elms and an apple tree. There is about an eight foot break in the fence. Through this viewfinder I can see the yellow pasture, the neighbors horses, a gray house and the hills beyond. I can also see the small planes as they ascend and descend. I hadn't realized until today we could see them. The left side of the yard is the wall of an old granary. Some woman in years past planted fire engine red tulips. These surprise flowers look smashing against the light green of the old wall. The porch/deck extends across the whole back of the house. We have a table and chairs and dark green Adirondack chairs out there. Both the new kitchen and the master suite nook open onto the porch. This brings me back round to my prayer chair. I retrieved a small square table from the attic and set it next to the chair. I rounded up my devotional materials, my shawl and a foot stool. I made myself a cup of tea, and then sat down. The cats climbed on the bed and began to snore in the sun. Heaven.

I wish I could transport all of you here. We would pull up chairs and put our feet up, lean back, sip tea and just gaze at the beautiful world. We might get in a little praying also.

Take care of yourselves. Love Bea.

P.S. I am still having linkage problems. Will attempt to fix next week. Cheers.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I am updating this site. I decided if I am going to take my writing seriously, I need to take the blog seriously. So, to that end, please note the addition of "Daily People." I also have "Weekly People" and "Occasional People" I will be adding. (Took me hours to figure out how to do this. Was quite simple when I understood I had "new blog" and not "old blog.") I still for the life of me cannot add links within the text. I did figure out how to add the whole URL link but don't want to do that. I just want to add name or blog title. If you can help me, please do so.

I updated my book list. This will be on going. Be warned "Santa Evita" is unnerving and depressing. Made me want to go and bathe after I read it, but I could not put it down. I love "Lucia" so all of E.F. Benson's books will reappear. These are my first Madeleine L'Engle and Anne Lamott books. So far, so good. "Psychosynthesis" is heavy sledding. May clash with my Christian understanding, and may not. Can't tell yet. I am reading "The Truth About Money" to find out how to handle money. About time right. This is a great book. I read it like a novel. Am learning lots.

I have written some short autobiographical stories. I will be posting some of them when I get up the nerve. When I get my new computer I will add photos. I am thinking about changing the look of the blog. Brown is so boring. But I kind of like the template. If the color can be changed let me know. I couldn't figure out how to do it.

Today is better. I sought comfort early in my prayer chair. When my soul is nourished it is much easier to nourish my body. Must remember this. Gorgeous day here. Touristas are are arriving by the motorhome load. (I can see the main road from my window.) Had blood drawn this AM at the Health Fair for a chem panel. Will see how healthy I am on June 2nd. Mark passed out again. Luckily they had him in the recliner. Odd how many men pass out during the blood draws. He was very embarrassed.

Need to go plan supper. All in all a good day.

Take care of yourselves. Love Bea

Hot dog! I figured out how to change the color of the font.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Freedom and Hunger

I have been eating non-stop since three pm. I knew I was going to eat today. I fought it off all morning. I held out until after talking to Mary. Then I began inhaling everything sugary I could find. And I couldn't find much. I picked dried raisins and cranberries out of some awful health cereal. I ate peanut butter and brown sugar as I don't have jelly or honey. I ate all of Mark's breath mints. I feel sick. I think it was that last breath mint that did it. What the hell is wrong with me? Answer...comes there none.

Mark had to spend the day in the main office today. I had the whole day to myself. This is usually bad. When presented with an unscheduled free day, I want to do nothing but eat. Today I wanted to spend the day eating candy and reading. I wanted pizza for lunch and hamburgers for dinner. I did not want to do anything productive. I wanted to unplug the phone and eat and read. This is not a formula for success. At the end of a day spent doing nothing but reading and eating I feel a self loathing that even suicide would not cure. So...I decided to get some things done. Every step was a push and a fight. All I wanted to do was sit and read and eat. I even went and had a massage today. This should have quieted the raging hunger but it didn't. In retrospect I should have said to hell with working today, bought some M&M's, and read and ate. I might have gotten bored with the sugar/book combo and quit without making myself sick. As is is I feel like a slob.

What happened? Why was I so hungry? Why does the prospect of time alone fill me elation and subsequent thoughts of food? It is like I am expecting a lover. Yippee I get to have a day of chocolate covered orgasms. Is this the face of addiction?

I feel fine I think. I don't think I was attempting to escape anything. Or do I feel fine? Maybe I feel empty. Those blogs took a lot out of me. They took bad stuff out, but as of yet I have nothing with which to fill the hollow holes. I am angry. And tired. I have nothing to give today. I just want. Damn I did a lousy job taking care of me today. Sunday was bad. Homicide early in the morning. Father killed mother in front of kids, on Mother's Day. Mark spent whole day on phone and back and forth from crime scene and Sheriff's office. Three little kids, oldest was eleven. Both parents drunk. Kids now in foster home and father in jail. Whooee. mucho pain Yesterday I did laundry all day. All that nutty house cleaning produced nutty amounts of laundry. Day started out good and went continually downhill. I needed a break. That would and could have been today. My body and spirit wanted to be nourished. Hence hunger. I just expect to go on like nothing affects me. I can't anymore. I have to take time to process every little thing. Irritates me. My massage person said my body was, "a mess." She asked if I had been digging ditches. Well, well apparently my body also needed time to unwind from last week. Who knew? Great learning going on here today.

I want and expect to have minimal emotional and physical responses. That is how the good sturdy farm folks I was raised around acted, and by darn I am going to act that way too. Only I can't. So I eat. Guess I will stop flogging myself for not meeting my own semi-unconscious expectations and go and take some Mylanta. And some Gas-X. In a couple of hours those raisins are going to attack me.

Take better care of yourselves than I do. Love Bea

Monday, May 14, 2007

Glad That's Over

I am worn to a nubbin. Last week was hard. The posts were the hardest. Also the cooking and cleaning and worrying about having company. And paying the bills. And I finally bought a mattress. And shopping on Saturday. Why so much in one week? Just lucky I guess.

Guess what? I think I am a writer. No really. I compose stuff in my head all time now. I see something and my mind automatically figures out how to write about it. Very odd. We went to an old bookshop we frequent and I browsed the writing section. Made me tired. All those rules about how to write. And how to be creative. I picked one up about syntax. Good golly. Made me want to lie down and rest. All those rules made me feel as though someone was attempting to teach me how to walk with a different gait. "No Bea, your verbs should move faster and did you know you are adjectoed?" Cripes. Maybe I'll just lapse into swear words. They sure shove a sentence along.

I went to Coldwater Creek and K-mart and bought summer clothes. All extra larges. I didn't even darken the carpet of the Plus Size sections. My style is refining itself. I weeded out some unfortunate purchases from early in my size 18 time. If I am going to wear 18's I figure I might as well have something I really like. I was just buying "get by" stuff because I thought I'd be getting thinner. I may still, but I am sick of looking like a rag-a-muffin in the meantime. I also packed up all the over large stuff I was still slopping around in. My wardrobe is smaller but more functional. Is a good feeling.

Okay this is the end of this post. I am going outside to hang washing on the line. I am having left over soup and salad for lunch. What a good day I'm having.

Take care. Love Bea

Saturday, May 12, 2007


We had a splendid time last eve. Turned out we were a congenial group. People arrived at 6pm and left at 10pm. I expected them to stay for a couple of hours at best. My soups, Creamy Lentil and Salmon Corn Chowder, were a hit. The weather was gorgeous. We had our dessert and coffee outside. Was fun getting to know people. Was fun focusing on something in no way shape or form connected with me. I did not think about myself for four blessed hours. I did go semi-nuts cleaning, and Mark came home from work early and mowed the lawn. A clean house is like a blank canvas on which can be painted all the joys of life. We all meet again in a month. I am looking forward to it.

Mama died on Mother's Day morning when I was twelve. I woke up to find her gasping for air. I did not know what to do and just stood there. She was too far gone to notice me. I was not scared but I knew something was terribly wrong. In the midst of the gasping, her breathing suddenly returned to normal. She sat up, lifted her hands in the air, and began to laugh. Not her usual shy, quiet giggle, but deep joyous belly laughs. This scared me. She started talking to someone. I knew she was dying. In my pajamas I raced across the street to the nursing home to get Aunt Wilma. She was cooking breakfast for the old people that morning. I ran in and said come quick. She did, but by the time we got back Mom had died. I told Aunt Wilma about the laughing and she began to cry and thanked God for Mom's release. I had given up crying by then and just stood silent at her side. I remember telling Aunt Wilma that God had made Mom younger. No stranger to death, she patted my hand and said yes it worked like that. (I was alone with Aunt Wilma when she died and she too gained youth.) Aunt Wilma took my hand and said, "Louise (my Mother) and I agreed I would adopt you when she died. Is that okay with you?" Was fine with me. Seemed the normal thing. I got dressed and we went back over to the nursing home to call the funeral home and finish breakfast. I never even wondered at the preplanning these two friends had done for my future. My mother loved me but I never really understood it.

Mom was 48 when she died. She had a hard life. Her family was very poor and there were eight kids. I think my grandfather drank. They moved frequently. Mom was "sickly." She had asthma in an era before much could be done for it. Also family did not have the money for health care. She was also very "nervous." Mom was the plainest of her five sisters. She was very smart according one of the Aunts. Also, "a bookworm." Mom wrote poetry and kept a journal. She also drew. Through some miracle of God I have her teenage journals and her pencil drawings. She was introspective and self doubting from the first. Also had a keen eye for the ridiculous. There was no money for college so Mom got a job pumping gas when she graduated. It was during the War and she loved this job. By this time my grandmother was also sick. Mom stayed home to take care of her, and be taken care of. She and my grandmother ran a popcorn stand outside the movie theatre. Somewhere along the line she met and married a nare do well named Jake. He was a drunk. Used to beat her, if he could catch her. She could outrun him. She loved that. They were married for a few years and then divorced. Mom moved in with one of the Aunts, also going through a divorce. They began to "run around." Mom ended up pregnant at 39, and was unmarried. Family moved her to a small town a few miles down the road and sort of deserted her. Her mental state deteriorated rapidly.

After I was born things went from bad to worse. She was no good at living on her own and no good at caring for a child. We were on welfare and the Aunts and one Uncle occasionally arrived with food and to clean the house. We stayed with my uncle and his wife when Mom totally couldn't cope. Some idiot decided Mom would be better off if she could "get a new start" and moved us to Denver. We lived in an apartment in a rundown old mansion in Five Points. Five Points was and is a slum. The apartment, in the attic, was so hot we would go outside and sleep on the lawn at night. I got nosebleeds all the time. She got really bad in Denver. Eventually my Uncle showed up and took us home. Another rented apartment in the "poor" section of town. By this time I had begun to take over caring for Mom. I bought groceries and cooked. I was not good at it. I was four. I could make pancakes and toasted cheese sandwiches. I was four. In my mind's eye I think of myself as a "mature" seven or eight. Anyway, when Mom began locking me out of the house at night and the neighbors complained, the Aunts and the State stepped in. They came and took her away.

She was in the state mental hospital for four years. I have the letters the Aunts and my California cousin sent to her. I have two letters from her from late in her stay. They are to our social worker, Miss O"Mara, asking for someone to please find me a real home. Heartbreaking. I know only bits and pieces of her time in Bedlam. She felt violated and safe, simultaneously. With huge doses of Thorazine she got better and was dismissed. You know the story from there.

I had not seen Mom in four years. Aunt Zella told me she was "nuts" and I would have to be very careful not to say something "stupid" that would "set her off." I dressed meticulously so as to look my best. I was nervous as we drove in from the farm. Mom was waiting on the front step. I got out of the car. Aunt Zella came around and took my hand. I think she was going to lead me to Mom. Mom came down off the step and walked a pace or two forward and then she knelt down. I remember ripping my hand away from Zella and hurtling down the sidewalk. I was yelling Mama, mama, mama. I do not forget melting into her. I had come home. I don't remember much of that day. I held Mama's hand the whole time. I remember meeting Aunt Wilma. I had never seen such a big woman. Aunt Zella beat the snot out of me when we got home because, "you made a fool of yourself." I didn't care. She and I both knew my life had changed.

I think Mom's last couple of years were the happiest in her life. She had a job, friends and a family. I was a pain in the ass, but what smart aleck ten year olds aren't. She told me about herself. I wish I had been older. I took some of it in but was more interested in my new wonderful life than to listen. I hope in Heaven to have an eternity of just chat. I think we may have much in common.

It has been 38 years now, but I still remember. Happy Mother's Day Mama.

Take care of yourselves. Love Bea.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Aunt Zella

I don't want to write this.

I am starting early today because I am having seven strangers to dinner tomorrow night. I want to do it but am nervous. I am not doing blitzkrieg house cleaning or yard cleaning. I am having soup that I like. I am using paper plates and plastic silverware. I am consciously trying not to do my "perfect" thing. And...I fear being judged and found wanting. I am also putting off writing this blog.

When I began to think about writing this blog I realized I did not actually know much about Aunt Zella. She lived on a rundown farm with a husband twenty years her senior. She loved beautiful clothes and shoes. She smoked. She had three adult children. Her father lived in an old dirty house on another rundown dryland farm. She wanted a clean house. She was a fantastic seamstress. She was a lousy cook. She hated children.

I think Aunt Zella and Uncle Howard took in foster kids to supplement their income. The old farm was played out and so was Uncle Howard. So they became foster parents. I think this may have been Aunt Zella's idea. Howard ignored us for the most part. We knew not speak to him, at least the girls, I don't know about the boys. There were twelve of us at one point. The old farm house had four bedrooms. Five girls slept in one room. There was a crib or two in the hallway. Aunt Zella and Howard occupied one room and their teenage son Jim occupied one room. I don't know how the boys were arranged upstairs because we (girls) were not allowed up there. I was only up there once. Jim had come home drunk and wet the bed. It took all of us kids to lift the mattress out on to the roof so it could dry. I vaguely remember bare wood floors and bunk beds. The older kids took care of the younger ones. I was the second oldest. I started first grade there. I was at the foster home for three years. I was the second child they took in. Scott was the first. We two watched as the population expanded. Gad it wearies me to remember all this.

After the white coated ones came and hauled Mom off to the State Hospital I began my year long relative odyssey. I was a good little girl and don't yet know why they kept handing me off, but round robin I went. I eventually ended up in California with some adult cousins. They gave me a wonderful life and wanted to adopt me. Mom would not sign the papers as I understand it, so back I came to Wyoming. To this day I do not know why. I then landed up in a Catholic orphanage. Here began my love affair with the Catholics. Those nuns were nice to me. I know this is not everyone's experience. Somehow from there I ended up at Fox's foster home. I don't know how. There were also some short stints at the relations in between the orphanage and foster home. My mother had seven siblings. One of my uncles delivered gas to the outlying farms and was shocked to drive up and find me sitting on a horse in Fox's yard. It was and is all pretty confusing.

I remember my first real encounter with Aunt Zella. The social worker had taken me from, ?where, I don't remember, and left me at the foster home. I was nervous. Aunt Zella took me in to introduce me to Scott. He was in the bathtub. He was a year older than me. That would have made him six or seven. When she opened the bathroom door he stood up to attention in the tub. He was terrified of her. I had never seen a naked little boy, and I was nervous. I giggled. She drug me out into the hallway and hit me. Hit me hard enough to bounce me off the wall. No one had ever hit me before. I was stunned, and then...mad. I was smart enough not to fight back, but I hated her from that moment on. I still hate her. I hope she is burning in hell. And I am sick of hating her. The rage that inhabits my soul owes much of its origin to her.

Aunt Zella never knew what to do with me. I think she believed children were sort of like semi- animate pets. Seen seldom and heard less. I talked all the time. And I said the damnedest things. I revealed what life was really like in the foster home. To everyone. I did not do this intentionally. She continually told me I said stupid stuff and to "shut up." However when the need arose to impress any outsiders she would dress me up, I was very cute, and trot me out to do my piece. I knew my job. Make her and Uncle Howard look good. I was smarter than she. And she knew it. She beat the living tar out of, to what to me, seemed to be almost daily. The sneak slap was her favorite. When I was least expecting it she would cup her hand and hit me across my cheek and ear. I have hearing loss in both ears. This backfired once at a function where the poster foster child, me, was supposed to be impressing the state inspector. We were eating and Aunt Zella passed me a bowl of corn. She passed it kind of high and I misinterpreted it for an oncoming slap, and ducked. I dropped the corn, broke the bowl and then she did slap me. Right in front of the inspector. Mucho problemo. She trapped me in a corner after the woman left and hit me with a metal pancake turner. But I had scored a point.

This leads directly to food. I threw up almost every day for three years. "Puking" she called it. Usually happened at the evening meal but also sometimes at breakfast. I never did this at school. I did not do it on purpose. It just happened. I would be eating along and poof, up it came. Don't think I had a medical problem. I had never seen a doctor until Aunt Wilma took me to one. Anyway I threw up, a lot. WARNING very graphic. Aunt Zella made me clean it up, and then sometimes eat it. Said she was not going to let good food go to waste. Sorry about that. I needed to say it out loud. The food was terrible the first time it went down. Fox's I now realize were poor. We ate home grown, home made and home canned everything. Children are not big fans of homemade cottage cheese, pickled beets and slimy oatmeal. I especially hated that cottage cheese. I hated milking the cows, separating the milk, pouring it into the crocks and then stirring the damn things until the milk clabbered and presto, cottage cheese. I hated hoeing the huge garden, peeling and slicing the beets, boiling the jars and then pouring the hot sugar brine over the beets. I hated plucking the chickens after watching them run around the yard without their heads. I hated candling eggs. I hated making bread, that damn dough was heavy for a six year old. I hated making butter. We made it in two gallon glass mayonnaise jars. All the children sat in a circle passing the big jar around. We shook the jar until, presto, butter. We ate garden produce, milk byproducts, bead and meat. Not a bad diet I guess but this was not the 1930's it was the 1960's. I longed for frosted flakes and orange juice and candy and pop. We had no sweets and no fruit. We drank milk and Kool Aid. We had milk and oatmeal every single morning. All of us except the Fox's themselves. They had bacon and orange juice and eggs and pancakes. I once surreptitiously climbed on a chair to reach the top shelf of the fridge to get a swig of orange juice. True ambrosia. I was half starved most of the time. (I remember Aunt Wilma commenting on how much I ate when she first took me in. I never had french fries and pie. I could not get enough. Became the story of my life.) I hate Aunt Zella for ruining my food sensors. Mary says my upchucking was a defense mechanism. I was literally throwing up and out all of Aunt Zella's terrible contact.

Aunt Zella knew her son Jim was sexually abusing me. She used to beat me afterward calling me, "a dirty little girl." She found out her son-in-law was also abusing me when she turned up unexpectedly at the abandoned farm house where he used to take me. Just dawns on me that her turning up could not have been an accident. Hmmm. Anyway I thought she would kill me. Chased me around the empty house screaming with a yardstick. Where the hell did she get a yardstick? Mysteriouser and Mysteriouser. I hate her.

Okay breathe everybody.

"Hurting people hurt people," or so says my lady t.v. preacher. I don't know what agony Aunt Zella must have gone through in her life. Or may be going through now. She was not a Christian or anything else as I remember. I am sure she is dead by now. I believe without Christ the afterlife is Hell. That makes me sad for her. I can build on this sadness. For me, I need to forgive her. The hatred is festering away in me and poisoning my life. I do not condone her treatment of us, or understand it, but I am making the choice to begin the process to forgive. Help me God. Amen

Happy Mother's Day Aunt Zella.

Take care of yourselves. Love Bea I DID IT!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Aunt Wilma

Gad where to start. If Mary is the mother of my soul Aunt Wilma is my formative mother. She raised me. I have many of her qualities, good and bad. Aunt Wilma adopted me when I was fourteen. My mother and I, and then just me, had lived with her since I was in fourth grade. She was no relation whatsoever.

Aunt Wilma was a big woman. In every sense. Tall, big boned and muscled, she probably weighed close to 300 for most of her life. She had a big heart and a big tempter. She was the kindest and maddest person I'd ever met. I loved her and was scared to death of her. She could be violent when she was mad. She hated that. She would cry and ask God's forgiveness when her temper overwhelmed her. I once saw her lock herself in a closet to keep from hitting one of the other kids. She controlled everyone and everything around her with anger. Thank God she was a devout Christian or she would have killed all of us. She was a nurse and a nursing home administrator in the days before regulations ruled health care. I grew up working and living in the nursing home with the "old people." She got her GED when she was 52. She was one of the most moral people I ever knew. She died when I was in my late twenties. I miss her more than I can say.

Aunt Wilma first met my mother at the bus station. Mom had just been dismissed from the state mental hospital and was supposed to go to live at the nursing home. She was 46. Aunt Wilma took one look at her and said "Come and live with me. I need a housekeeper and I think you would fit the bill." So that's what happened. Mom got a respectable job in a protected environment and Aunt Wilma got some much needed help. Both gained a life long friend. No two women were ever more different or more compatible. Mom helped Aunt Wilma take care of her invalid husband as well as keep house. She also had to put up with the various foster kids Aunt Wilma took in. I think the other kids prompted Mom to ask if Aunt Wilma would also take me in. As the story goes Aunt Wilma was shocked to learn Mom had a child. In short order I was taken out of the foster home and given my own room in the "big house." The big house was the old Victorian mansion in which we all lived. I think the county owned it along with the nursing home. It was huge and full to the brim with stuff, mostly antique. Aunt Wilma was a collector. Mom and I lived with Aunt Wilma for about a year until the state thought she (Mom) was in good enough shape to live on her own with me. We then moved into a little rental house right next to the big house. Mom continued her job as housekeeper/friend and I went to work at the nursing home. I washed dishes. I worked there in various jobs from the time I was nine or ten until I graduated from high school. I made a bunch of money, and learned to be work driven.

After Mom and Uncle Hank had died Aunt Wilma gave up the rest of the foster kids and adopted me. Just she and I in that huge house. We loved it. I became a typical teenager. Howbeit a very religious teenager. Aunt Wilma had a horrible early life. She says God rescued her and every blessing she possessed in life came from Him. I felt/feel the same way. Her oldest granddaughter and I were the same age. I forgot to mention her children. All grown and gone by the time I came along. They thought she was nuts adopting me, but knowing her, did not put up any fuss. Anyway oldest granddaughter and I became fast friends. When we did dumb teenager stuff Aunt Wilma would shake her head and say, "Oh you silly girls." My life was darn near idyllic from age twelve to nineteen. I had love, a family and excelled at school. I had a car, stereo and a huge collection of stuffed animals. Aunt Wilma bought me one everyplace she went. She gave me the life she never had, and had been unable to give her older daughters. I was and am grateful.

In an era of no therapy it was a miracle of God she functioned as well as she did. And there were problems. The anger and violence I have mentioned. She once threw a whole case of eggs at me, and she yelled continuously. But, she never hit me. As I was used to being hit this was a Godsend for me. She also ate almost non-stop. We all ate non-stop. We also worked like dogs. I would have been huge if it were not for the continual work. I watched her stand on the scale and cry. I watched her struggle into the girdles she wore every day. I watched her try to push her breasts into too small bras. Her pain seeped into me. It is intermingled with my own. I look at my own fat middle-aged arms and sigh. It is not my sigh. My eating issues I think began in the foster home but surely fulminated under her care and example. She is my real mother. Who I am is wound in and around her just as tightly as if she had given birth to me. And I am okay with that.

Happy Mother's Day Aunt Wilma. I became the nurse and woman you wanted me to be. I am now finding out how to become the person I want to be. What you taught me has enabled me to do and be both. I wish you could have met Mark. You would have loved him. God continues to bless me through you. I miss you. I love you.

Sniff, take care of yourselves. Love Bea

Monday, May 7, 2007


I have mother issues. I have had more than my share of mothers. All left their imprint on me. I am going to use this week to reveal those prints. I will be moving backward in time.

Mary is my mentor. I love her with a fierce and abiding love. I love only a handful of people in this fashion.

I have known Mary for over twenty years now. This surprises me. Seems like just a jot in time. Mary is now eighty. I think she was 58 or 59 when I met her. She is now frailer in body but otherwise pretty much unchanged.

I guess I will talk about Mary's physical self first. She is beautiful. At eighty she still turns heads. At 58 she was a stunner. I have seen a few photos and a drawing of her when she was young. Think Maureen O'Hara and Ava Gardner. She is tall although not as tall as she once was. She still has killer legs although the remnants of polio now tell more than ever in one of her feet. Big blue eyes, made all the more outstanding by snow white long hair, gaze wryly at the world under the most expressive eyebrows known to woman. She refuses to have an "old lady bob and perm" and wears her hair up in a bun held together with a chopstick. Lovely smile with gorgeous white teeth. Her skin is the bane of her existence. Years of swimming in Florida and Hawaii have given her more wrinkles and sun spots than she is comfortable with. Her posture is erect and her movement fluid in spite of her "polio foot." All the years of yoga are paying off. Mary was a vegetarian for many years and was the first person I ever met who truly believed that what you ate, mattered. She is my example of the benefits of healthy eating. She does love ice cream and Dove chocolate and "permits" herself small "indulgences" from time to time without guilt.

Mary's mental self. Mary writes and paints and decorates and plays instruments and teaches and counsels and organizes. She has had several professional careers beginning as an educational t.v. personality in Florida in the 60's, rehab unit manager in Hawaii in the 70's on to a hospital staff counselor in Wyoming the 80's. This is where I met her. She was doing guided imagery groups. I thought the groups and she were full of...hokum. She was the personification of New Age crap as far as I was concerned. Tells you what I knew about "New Age crap." I avoided her. My boss/friend was nuts about her and insisted I go to one of the groups "because she can help you." She did. Mary was the first person to whom I ever told the whole unvarnished tale of my weird childhood. She cried. In fact sobbed. Shocked the shit out of me. I did not cry at that time. When I asked her why all the tears she said, "Because you don't have any yet. And someone needs to cry for that poor child." Hanky anyone? Over the years Mary has taught me how to be a fairly healthy person. She has great insight and pulls no punches. Her favorite line to my perennial "I don't know" is, "Well what if you did know?" Has worked wonders. Her fifth career is that of writer. (Fourth career during the 90's was Assistant Activity Director in a nursing home.) She is working on three books. Not just one, three. Says she is an old lady and time is short and she has a lot to say. I can attest to that.

Mary is a devout Christian. This was not always the case. She investigated all of the major religions in her search for truth. The search took her to far flung places and through many adventures. Some of this will be in her books. She says "Jesus chose her for his pupil" in a vision she experienced while on the Isle of Iona in Scotland. Oh I forgot to mention the Mysticism. She sees visions and dreams dreams. And she helps those of us who do the same and are freaked out by them. Mary has taught me how to interpret my dreams and how to allow a mandala to unravel my emotions. My creative self was unacknowledged and perishing before I met her. As was my Spiritual self. At that very first guided imagery group she helped me find the missing element in my life, God. We sat in a circle, and she began the meditation with breathing exercises. I was dubious, and irritated about being dragooned in to attending. But I decided it was at least a chance to relax. Boy did I relax. I eventually remember her saying, "Look out at the ocean and see a gift floating toward you." I did and I saw. She gently brought us back to solid ground, and then asked us to share what we had been given. I was still three fourths gone when I said, "This big white fish came up out of the ocean and laid itself at my feet." She gently asked,"What kind of fish?" "Sole," I said. "Are you a Christian" she asked? I assented. She then sent everyone on their way but me. "Are you searching for your soul" she asked? It is available and waiting at your feet." My true life in Christ began at this moment. With out Mary my search for my soul would have been my harder and longer. She has preceded me on many spiritual adventures. And I am grateful.

She has been and is the mother of my soul. I introduce her as my God Mother. Happy Mother's Day Mary. I love you.

Take care of yourselves. Love Bea

P.S. Also see first post of the day "White Christmas."

White Christmas

Thank you all for your helpful words. I have trouble with the whole self care/selfishness thing. I'll bet you couldn't tell.

We had a blizzard here on Saturday. More darn snow. It was still very nasty on Sunday. Mark made up another song on our way to church. With apologies to Bing Crosby.

I'm dreaming of a white solstice. With snow fall deep on July four.
The glaciers creeping, and Al Gore weeping, and Norse gods banging at the door.
Ding, ding, ding, ding.
I"m dreaming of a new ice age. With men extinct or nearly so.
There'll be no pollution, it's the solution, so all you folk have got to go.
Ding, ding, ding, ding.
I'm dreaming of the wool-ly mammoth. Furry elephants now out number men.
While around the fire, the few conspire, to bring back writing once again.
Ding, ding, ding, ding...
This is as far as he got. I'm praying it doesn't snow again.
Take care of yourselves. Love Bea

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Allowed to Feel

Creep update (see yesterday's post) : My friend is fine-ish. She has no broken bones only a lot of bruising. She was unpacking her suitcase when I called. She had been on the phone with the insurance company all afternoon. The car was totaled. They had to use the jaws of life to extract her. The appraiser kept saying it was a miracle she was alive. It was. I am grateful to God for sparing her. Amen.

What does "allowed to feel" mean? (With thanks to Debra) I have been puzzling about this for a couple of days. Seems very important. Also feels very connected to yesterdays creepiness. Allowed to feel what? Allowed by whom? These are the main queries I separated from the confusion this phrase evokes.

What is it I am allowed to feel? Nothing. In ruminating over this statement I realized I believe I am allowed to feel nothing. Poor dumb girl. How sad for me. It has taken me fifty years to recognize this erroneous, soul sapping belief. (But better late than never. Thanks Debra.) I believe normal is feeling nothing. I know I eat to stop the pain of feeling, but I also believe in my heart of hearts that I should not feel pain. Good heavens. You know the only people who feel no pain? Dead people.

I have rules about feeling. I can feel only at appropriate places and times. And I have to feel only the emotions I deem appropriate for the place and time, i.e. sadness at funerals. I was a hospice nurse for a number of years. I went to a lot of funerals. Toward the end of my death and dying tenure I was getting hysterical at the funerals. I laughed. I began giggling with the eulogy and was guffawing by the time they wheeled the casket out. Makes me laugh as I am writing this. I just this moment see this for the defense mechanism it was. I have been ashamed of my inappropriate responses. I should have felt sad. Instead I felt like Shecky Greene. I believe that daily life should be emotionless. A feeling of unruffled contentment is permitted the "good" Christian, but otherwise nothing. I have seen myself as a failure because I get emotional over the price of zucchini. I expect myself to mostly have no emotions. I see any "non-appropriate" emotion as out of control. I have hated my emotions because I could not seem to control them. Of course I can't control the onset of emotion. Like trying to control my digestive system. But I can control how I will react to the emotion. I do not have to sob in the produce isle. But I can if I want to.

What does all this have to do with yesterday? I felt the wrong emotion. I should have felt anxiety and compassion. What I actually felt was irritation. I am sick. I have been sick for a week. Not a nice clean illness like a cold or the flu. I am having a grand mal herpes attack. Fever, nausea, open lesions, the whole nine yards. We also may have to move again. Mark may be being transferred to the main office. I do not want to move. I volunteered to host the first of the revolving dinners for the church. I have to do "company" cleaning. I love Penny but I did not want to drive a million miles and then take care of someone. So I was irritated. And I should have felt compassion. Then I felt guilty. (Guilt is the one emotion I seem to permit myself at all times and places.)

I now feel tired. I no longer feel guilty. Penny is okay and with God and Zovirax I soon will be too. Feeling is normal and I can choose how I will react to what I feel. A great lesson learned. Stay tuned for how I got to be emotionless. A bunch of "non-allowers" in my past.

Take care of your emotional selves. Love Bea

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Creep

What a day I'm having. A friend was in a rollover last eve and I am trying figure out if I am needed and if I want to go see her. Six people have called me so far today to find out if I am coming. I don't know. I do not have enough info. yet. I am not just going to jump in the car and drive 400 miles if she is in okayish shape. They dismissed her last eve after patching her up so I know she isn't dying. Mark is in the middle of a yucky trial and does not want to go until it is over. This would be Friday at the earliest. Friend and her husband are in their seventies. We are sort of like their children. Friend's husband said don't come, we already have enough trouble without entertaining you. Have not yet talked directly with the friend to find out what she wants. She totaled the car when she rolled it so I know they have no transportation. She also has a broken rib and a "bunged up" (whatever that means) shoulder. I could run them around and help set them up at home with care and supplies if needed. I could also provide moral support. We have been with them through their last few surgeries. Gad I don't know what to do. I do not want to go for a whole host of reasons, most selfish. This is my interminable bind.

I have spent my life "helping out" and I don't want to help out no more. Fine attitude for a friend and for a Christian. I wish love would motivate me to run to the rescue but it hasn't so far. And make no mistake I do love my friend. I just can't come up with the oomph to do all the necessary stuff to be gone for 3-5 days. What a creep I am. I chose not to take care of a dear aunt as she was dying and have felt guilty ever since. This is more of the same. I don't know what is the "right" thing to do. Should I rush to the rescue if I don't want to? I don't know that my friend would expect it, but their friends sure do. My friends do not have children. If they lived closer I would be there in a shot. Listened to a sermon this very morning about selfishness. Apparently none of it stuck. If I was sick I sure would like my friends to rally round. Maybe we can go this weekend. Gad what a creep I am. This is the end of this rambling post.

Take care of yourselves 'cause I sure don't want to. Love, the Creep.