Wednesday, January 31, 2007

At last, I'm back.

Here is our new home. It sits on two acres just outside the city limits of Washington KS. A couple days after we moved our furniture in, we had a lovely snow. The move was two weeks ago today. My new internet provider was activated yesterday so this is my first blog in my new home. On clear nights I can see the stars. We're still adjusting to the quiet that surrounds us. No trains, no barking dogs, no screaming neighbors. The donkey across the road brays occasionally, or a passing vehicle breaks the silence. Most sounds are softened by the thick shelter belt of pine trees that grow north of the house. Birds of every kind and color flit from tree to tree. North and east of the house and garage are wide, open fields. I wonder if the peace and quiet will inspire me?
If I were a tourist, Washington County Kansas and the small towns therein would be my preferred destination. Washington is the county seat with a courthouse presiding over the town square. Good food and plenty of it can be found in numerous restaurants, cafes and taverns. So far I've eaten at the Longhorn Bar and Grill in Washington, Our Daily Bread in Barnes KS, and Ricky's Cafe in Hanover KS. All serve generous portions of food like Grandma used to make. Northeastern Kansas is a tapestry of rivers, riparian shelter belts, rolling prairies and pastures, rocky outcroppings, and grain fields, not the flat featureless landscape tourists imagine it to be. The air is fresh, and no bluer skies exist anywhere else I know of. Meadowlark songs sound suddenly from fields. The scent of sweet clover in summer stirs on the wind. The people are friendly and open because they live, work, and thrive in clean, safe surroundings.
I was born and raised in a town twenty miles from here and my brother's family lives here, so Washington is a familiar place to me. Our new home is clean and comfortable, a very pleasant place to be so far. I'm happy to be here and back online. I switched to ATT/SBC Global DSL as my internet provider. Everyone associated with ATT/SBC -- from the folks at the other end of my telephone to the workers who came to my house -- has been helpful and kind. Life has been very good lately. May that continue.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A MOVING Testimonial.....

Every time we move, we swear it will be the last time. We pinky swear, "Never again!!" What dolts we are. Perhaps moving is the shape our spirit of adventure takes. Some people cruise to the Caribbean. Others climb mountains or bunjee jump. We move....and move and move and move and move. Eight times at last count, or is it nine? I forget.

Our soon-to-be ex-home is comfortable, peaceful and pleasant. Not "house beautiful" material but OK. When we moved the last time my one request was to have a house with two bathrooms. We have a lot of company and enjoy visitors. Two bathrooms just seemed a luxury to me. This old house has one so we and our guests made do.

Several months ago the almost ideal place materialized. We'd been looking for a small acreage for a couple years. This one has two acres just outside the city limits of a small Kansas town. The ranch style home has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. And the huge garage has room for two vehicles AND my husband's garage sale treasures.

Within the next few days we will move our furniture and embark on our latest adventure. It's all happened too fast for me to absorb. These days I'm a slow plodder instead of the over-achieving workaholic I used to be. Slowly but gradually our new house will be turned into a peaceful, pleasant home -- one with two bathrooms!! :)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Michael Corrigan and the male grief process

Several years ago I discovered the writing of Michael Corrigan when I reviewed his book Confessions of a Shanty Irishman. I enjoyed and admired Corrigan's writing style, his use of humor and blarney, his expression of deep felt emotion at the death of the father who raised him. That first book was swiftly followed by
The Irish Connection and later by Byron. Corrigan is the quintessential Celtic writer -- gifted with a humorous take on life and blessed with the words to express himself. His writing can be playful, deadly serious, and occasionally stunning.

As sometimes happens, Corrigan and I maintained email contact after the reviews were written. As fellow writers we compared our successes and failures. I lived my rather humdrum life vicariously through him and his wife Karen and their travels to places I will never visit -- Spain, Ireland, San Francisco. The blow of losing his father, grandparents, and mother was softened, always, by Karen's joyous presence in his life. The sum of their marriage is expressed in the photo above.

On September 12 2005, Michael lost Karen to a brain aneurysm. His brief email saying Karen was in the hospital, not expected to live, chilled me to the marrow and broke my heart because I knew he had lost his anchor, his raison d'etre in life. Although we'd never met, I knew Karen and Michael Corrigan well. How could he survive the loss of his bright and shining girl, the respected business woman and activist? How could he give sorrow words in a world that had "turned black before his eyes" as Dylan said in a song?

After more than a year of solitary living, a life without Karen, Michael's introspective grief is reaching out to comfort others. He worries about men in particular because males rarely express their grief or seek the counseling they need. Weekly counseling has helped him survive the black emptiness of life without Karen. In the winter edition of an online literary journal, New Works Review, Michael Corrigan tells his story of grief and loss and reaches out to other men suffering as he is. His journey through shock, despair, and grief is beautifully written and helpful.

I encourage everyone, male and female, to read Corrigan's essay, in which he truly does "Give Sorrow Words." Karen would be so proud to know her death became a catalyst to help others. If even one person benefits from Michael's words, Karen's legacy will continue. Share the link with anyone you know who might benefit from Michael Corrigan's experience.

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I enjoy good writing by writers and poets who are not famous. My mother said I was born a hundred years too late. The older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

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