Monday, October 31, 2011

Lovely Autumn Day...

I took yesterday off from blogging, mainly because I got a late start to my Sunday morning, walked the dogs later than usual, then talked on the phone for the better part of the afternoon--first to my BFF Jan who is in Los Angeles for three weeks visiting her mother, then to Morag, my neighbor from Edinburgh.

Jan and I haven't had an opportunity to talk at all since before I left for Scotland, so we had mega stuff to cover, both from my end and hers.  Sadly, her father passed away just a few weeks before Alan, so she's spending more time down south than usual to help her mother sort through things. 

Then, before I could do much more than get my pot of chili cooking--something I had planned on all week for Sunday dinner--Morag called and we chatted for another length of time.  We only saw each other that first day I arrived in Edinburgh, though had scheduled the following Tuesday for our afternoon lunch and get-together.  Unfortunately, she fell on the Monday as she was leaving her volunteer job at a local thrift shop, and ended up in the hospital for the duration of my stay.  She is still recovering from a very serious fall last Christmas which broke her pelvis in two places, so this was a wretched setback.  It was good to talk yesterday, to find she was mending a bit, and her spirits were high, etc.

So.  The chili cooked all afternoon and into the early evening, the smell filling the house with such a wonderful, homey aroma, the perfect thing for a nice Fall day.  I made cornbread muffins, and totally enjoyed my dinner--except for the fact I made enough chili to feed a small third world country.  I am going to freeze meal-sized portions, which should pretty much cover any future chili dinners until sometime next year.

I usually simmer the chili in the crock pot all day, but I haven't used my dutch oven for months, and thought I would try it instead. It rocked.

Monday morning and the weather is just perfect today.  Sunny, warm--but not too warm--and all the trees changing colors for the season.  I decided to take the dogs to the big county park outside Roseburg, not only for somewhere different to walk, but to see how the river looked with the turning leaves.

I tried to take a photo of the boys when they weren't paying attention, but the minute I raised the camera to my eye, Max looked up in horror and darted away in panic.  I snapped this as he was just spinning to run.  Honestly, what in the world could have frightened him so much in his other life that the mere pointing of a camera would make him so crazy.  In any's the boys.  Notice that Ozzy's hair STILL hasn't recovered from his scalping, which is now one year ago.  Aarrgghh.

I had to sneak the camera out from under my sweatshirt to take these next shots.  Max caught me, but I managed to keep the camera pointed away from him so he wasn't so scared.  What a goof...

Walking across the park, headed for the river.  The trees are slow to change out here; the ones in town are more colorful.  I'll try to remember to take my camera to the city park tomorrow.

The view up the Umpqua River...

...and the view down river...

Very pretty Monday morning, isn't it..??.  We had a really good walk, one of the better ones the three of us have had lately.  It was quiet, hardly anyone about, warm and sunny, and well, just peaceful.  The dogs were off-leash for a bit of time too, which they loved and rarely get to do.

Later today I'll get back to the travel diary.  We left off just as I was meeting with Miles and Avril.  I think I'm sort of procrastinating as the next installment was written on Sunday, and covers Friday night, Saturday and part of Sunday.  I had some very painful moments during that period.  Though...I'm also realizing some important things, which was part of the purpose of this whole journey, wasn't it..??  Stay tuned...


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Rainy Saturday... last.  A rainy, misty, miserable day in Roseburg, though not miserable to me, of course.  It's a perfect day to lounge around in my most stretchy sweat pants, no bra, and comfy warm, thick socks (sorry for the visual).  I'm back from walking the dogs at the park, so it's a whole afternoon of relaxing and reading and whatever ahead of me.  Heaven, in other words.

Now, let's go back in time.  I didn't write in my journal on the Thursday, so this installment was written on Friday, and covers both days.  Friday wasn't a good day for me.  I really cried at one point, sitting alone in the Princes Street Gardens, remembering...


Friday - 7:15pm
Oct 14th

Sitting in the George Hotel lobby waiting for Miles and Avril.

It's been a busy, and fraught, couple of days since my last entry.

Thursday was my "take care of business" day.  I met with George, my solicitor.  One of my main reasons for visiting him was to thank him for all his help after Alan was gone and I was lost in the red tape of British bureaucracy.  It was a great hour-long meeting.  He gave me excellent advice and counsel on a number of issues: real estate in Edin, financial planning for my future, cost of living for a single woman, etc.  When we finished I asked him how much I owed him.  He smiled and said when I came back and needed his help in purchasing a place, he'd get me then.  Bless him.

I dawdled in some shops on my way from George's to the Royal Bank.  Bought a wonderful book at Anthropologie about being a One.  It's beautifully done and very insightful.

Against all expectations, the RBS experience was brilliant.  The woman helping me with some difficult transaction details was so great, and now, in any future dealings with the Royal, I should have no trouble at all.  What a difference in handling something in person as opposed to over the phone, 6,000 miles away!!

Around the corner from the Royal is Multrees Walk, and Valvona & Corolla, a place where Alan and I often had coffee.   I was hungry and it was getting into the afternoon, so in I went.  I sat upstairs at a lovely table overlooking the Walk.  Had the best Artichoke soup I have ever tasted, plus the waitress talked me into a small glass of Prosecco.  Lunch was followed by my favorite Italian coffee.  It was a very nice interlude.

Back to my room--new room actually.  I moved this morning and am much happier and closer to the center of the hotel, plus have a great view out the back, away from the chaos and confusion of George Street.  And what a nightmare that is!!  They have just re-routed all the Princes St traffic to George and holy crap, what a mess.

I was still full from my late lunch, so I snuggled into my jammies, watched some telly, had a cuppa,  and read my new book.  Felt very accomplished getting all my business stuff dealt with.

Today wasn't so great.  I got a fairly good night's sleep, made it downstairs to the hotel breakfast, which was excellent, then headed out on a wonderful, sunny day to look around town.

By early afternoon I ended up at Princes Street Gardens, sitting on a bench in a quieter area, soaking up the warmth in the sunshine.  The castle loomed, in all its glory in front of me.  And suddenly, without warning, I was back in time, talking to Alan about going to the Gardens to take some shots of the daffodils on the Mound in the April sun.  We drove into town, and I took several photos.  As I sat there today, I realized I was right in that same spot!!  I was overwhelmed and burst into tears.  No, actually, I was sobbing uncontrollably.  It was awful.  I was in public.  And buggers, as usual, I didn't have a tissue.  That made me cry harder because Alan always had to lend me his handkerchief in an emergency, and I could just hear his voice saying, "You never have a tissue!"  as he laughed at me.   I cried and cried, so much wanting my old life back.  Why in the world did we ever leave here, Alan??  Disgustingly, I ended up blowing my nose and wiping my face in my scarf!!

[FYI:  This is one of the photos I took that long ago day in April 2007.  The bench where I was sitting on Friday was this exact view, minus the daffodils, of course]

Somehow I got back to the hotel, and my room.  I cried some more as I washed out my scarf in the tub, then dropped with exhaustion into a long nap.

Tried to have dinner at the hotel restaurant, but being Friday @ 6:00pm, the place was packed full.  Went across the street to Hard Rock, but same story, so returned to room and ordered room service.  Pea & Ham soup, with fresh baked bread.  It was delicious.  Alison called as I was dressing to meet with Miles and we made arrangements to meet tomorrow @ Noon.

Talked to Lorna this afternoon as well--we're meeting at Noon on Monday.

It seems as long as I'm busy, I can handle things, but wow, on my own??  What an agony of loneliness assails me.  I'm not sure if Alan's closer to me here, or if the memories are too much in my face now that I'm back where we spent our lives together.  I feel very fragile today for some reason.  Well.  For many reasons, I'm sure.

Miles and Avril should be here any minute.  Going to sign off and sit back and watch the comings and goings around me here in the hotel lobby...


Ugh, that Friday was so painful.  It hurts to remember.  It was my first--of three--breakdowns during the course of my journey.  It was like my grief was made fresh all over again; like I had to grieve for Alan in the place where we lived, and loved each other; a place far more "us" than Roseburg could ever be.

The only saving grace to that day was meeting with Miles and Avril, who showed up just as I was putting my journal into my purse.  But that's a story for tomorrow...

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Photo...and More Words...

Matthew, landscaper extraordinaire, has a son named Tucker.  One day during the summer, Matthew brought him to the house.  I showed him the pumpkins--which were small and green at the time.  When the first one got big and orange, before all the others, I thought of Tucker.  Matthew had to come over for some replacement planting a few weeks ago, so when he was finished, we cut Tucker's Pumpkin from the vine.

I got this in an email from Matthew last night...

How cute is that..??  Not just Tucker, but the pumpkin, too.


Here's the next installment in the travel journal.  This one is pretty short, though the one tomorrow will be much longer as it comprises two days combined.  In any case, here's Wednesday, my first full day in Edinburgh...

6:20pm Wednesday, Oct 12
Hard Rock Cafe.  Edinburgh.

Flight over wasn't bad.  6 hrs.  Arrived early--7:30am.  Longer wait for the luggage it seemed.  45 min. cab ride to the George Hotel thru rush hour traffic, but had great cabbie.  We had a nice talk about all the goings-on in Edin since I left.  Felt like I'd never been gone.  The only unsettling defect to the experience was not driving home to Cramond.

Hotel room is good.  Tucked away in a confusing, though very quiet and private section of the hotel.  I like the coziness, but it's a bit off the beaten track and will probably change rooms tomorrow.

Morag arrived shortly after I began unpacking.  She looks good, though is using her cane and had a hard time navigating the stairs.  Another reason to change rooms.  We talked for ages, then I called Jack/Alice to let them know I'd arrived.  Turns out they'd been waiting downstairs for nearly an hour!!  The four of us sat in the lobby, had coffee and talked.  It was beyond wonderful to see them.  It felt so natural and normal to be "home."
8:15pm Tempus Bar
George Hotel

Had a short nap, then walked around town for a bit before ending up across from the hotel at the Hard Rock Cafe.  It was quiet--for a change--and I had a great dinner of chicken and chips, with a Corona beer.  I bought a new zip-up-the-front Hard Rock sweatshirt as my old one is getting a bit tattered, then went back to the George and into the Tempus bar.

Things are all changed now; it's not in any way like it was when Alan and I had our wedding reception here.  I was envisioning the old quiet, elegant bar that I remembered as I sipped a Dalwhinnie, but instead it's now a 30-something, blaring music, too loud to talk restaurant/bar situation.  Disappointing, but the Dalwhinnie tasted just as good!!

Had a nice conversation with an English gent who's been posted to Edin by his employer for several months to work.  We talked books vs Kindle (he had a book, I had my Kindle).

I miss Alan.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Words from my journey...

I was paging through my travel journal this morning, comparing my day today with what I was doing last Thursday (coming back to America already) with the Thursday before (when I was just two days into being "home" in Edinburgh).

Thought it would be interesting to share.  Everything in italics is taken verbatim from the book...


Oct 11, 2011

And so it begins.  Sitting @ PDX, 7:45am, waiting to board Continental for flight to Newark, then on to Edinburgh.  So much (too much??) riding on this journey.  If nothing else becomes clear to me, I hope know leaving the house/Roseburg will be the ONE thing that does.

The machinations to return to Edin seem insurmountable, though who knows how much help and/or conviction I might have were that plan to be "the one??"  Still.  Right this minute, in this place, it seems more than daunting to realize how much I will have to do if I decide to live there again.

Nearly time to board...the journey begins...
5:20pm Newark airport.

Fairly good flight from Portland.  Left on time, got here early, around 3:00-ish NY time.  Cat meow'd nearly the whole way from 1st Class section, but overall, the time went pretty fast.  Now the longer leg begins, from here to Edinburgh, tho' with any luck I'll be able to sleep at least part of the way.

Read the new Stephen King short story "Mile 81" on my Kindle and
Interrupted--have no memory why I stopped writing above!!
Had dinner at a diner-type restaurant, wandered all over the international section of airport, finally found a quiet area where I could put my feet up and just watch people.  Left NY @ 8:00pm for Scotland.


My words might have seemed so calm, and even casual, but I was nervous, and excited, and scared, and felt so alone without Alan beside me.

It's so interesting when we start any journey: the unknown is before us; anything can happen; the possibilities are endless.  All I can say is, the Terri who left America, and the one who came back 9 days later were two very different women.  And thankfully, that's a good thing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fall Pumpkins

Early this summer I planted two pumpkin starts on the back slope.  Not only did I want to fill in the bare ground, but I also wanted to see if I could get some pumpkins to grow for Halloween.  It seemed like those little plants were never going to take off, but finally, I think around July, they just exploded into flowers, then little baby green bulbs, then lo and behold: pumpkins..!!

Before I left for Portland and my long journey to Scotland, I picked (though...wait...I don't think you technically "pick" a pumpkin, do you..??).  So, okay, I harvested two and took them to my sister's.  One was nice and big, the other small and cute.  I cut two more off the vines for myself, and left three that were still green to fend for themselves.  I never for one minute imagined it would not rain the entire two weeks I was gone.  I mean, really, it's October for crying out loud.

The first thing I did on Sunday when I got home was check the pumpkins.  Sadly, the vines had withered to nearly nothing, but the three pumpkins were still hanging on, and in fact, had somehow doubled in size even without water.  I have now watered for two days and part of the vines have recovered, fortunately the part where the pumpkins are attached.

Here's a shot of the two I cut off the vine before I went on the trip.  I left them in the coolness of the garage where they survived just fine; I will hopefully carve them over this coming weekend.  I measured the height of these two and though it doesn't look it, they came in at 13 inches tall..!!

The three on the vine are even bigger.  They're taking their time in turning orange, and it's clear they won't make it by Halloween, but I'm going to let them just keep growing to see what happens.

For a bit of perspective:  See that large leaf in the middle foreground of the single pumpkin photo directly above this sentence..??  That leaf measured 15 inches...and shows just how big the pumpkin is so far.  Totally cool.  Last night the temps got down into the high 30s which should speed along the change in color, though it's to get into the high 60s during the day for the next week, so I'm not sure how that will affect the growth and/or color process. 

And honestly..??  Give me an Edinburgh rainy, misty October any's not natural that it never rains here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Quest

I've just returned from 8 days in Edinburgh, following my quest to find my way after Alan.  I'm starting this new blog because the other one is so wrapped up in our life together I just can't write there anymore, and I really miss my blog writing. 

So, this will be a beginnning, an exploration, a search for a path where just my feet will leave prints.   Hopefully, as time goes by, I will find some peace, some answers, and maybe just a bit more wisdom.

While in Scotland, I bought a book at Anthropologie--an amazingly cool store--by Victoria Alexander, an Aussie.  It's called One and was just exactly the perfect book, not just for my long, lonely jet-lagged nights for something to read, but because of her words.  (My sister said that strange things come your way when you're grieving: people, messages, objects, support.  She's right.) 

It's a beautiful book--almost a work of art--and filled with fabulous photographs Victoria has taken from her travels all over the world.  Her message however is about being a One and being okay with fact loving it.  I'm so not at that stage by any means, but I could really appreciate her thoughts, photos and ideas for achieving such a life.

And oddly,  of all the wonderful objects, clothes, and books in the shop that day, this one caught my attention for some reason.  It was way up on a shelf, not easily reached, and I have no idea why it called to me...but I'm very glad it did.

I am going to attempt NaNo again this year--see my new widget and word counter over there on the right.  I loved winning in 2009, and came so close last November, that I must try again for 2011.  Besides, it's crazy fun and keeps my mind occupied when my thoughts/sorrows overwhelm me.

Well, as I am terribly sick, from some plague that was recycling on the airplane while flying home, I must go lie down for a nap before I keel over.  Stay tuned.  With any luck I'll be back...