When All Else Fails Cook and Clean

It has been a good journey
Markey Mark

As a semi-retired therapist and writer I don’t always have to get up at the crack of dawn. So on days like today when the rain is pouring down and my brain says I have more things to do than I can handle, I pull the covers back over my head and think ‘I hope the dog can wait a little longer to go out and then have her breakfast.’ Cara Cozy, bless her soul, did wait and my leg pain got to the point where I had to get up, so here I am. Part of the resistance to rising this morning is the fact that my mischief-maker dog, Markey Mark, died last year on the 19th of November

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Husband Sy Kessler

and my beloved husband, Sy died four years ago on November 20th.  In this year’s terms that is next Sunday and Monday, and all I could think about to write is the sadness revisited. None of you want to hear that again. So it was up and wandering aimlessly around until I settled at the kitchen table with my pendulum. I listed off the things that needed to be done and then asked which tasks for today. It said write your blog and it said go cook. What a combination!

I’m hosting a small Thanksgiving Feast this year since three of my girls have commitments in other homes and that is as it should be. But Annie and Steve will be with me for a late afternoon dinner. In this last year I’ve moved my diet from gluten-free to Paleo and that is going to mean some tweaking of the traditional foods. That was what my guides were talking about when they said, ‘Go practice some of those changes to see if they will pass muster with your daughter and her husband.’ So how does that fit with writing a blog about my first book, A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir?”

When I was a teenager and deep in the midst of boyfriends and all the emotional angst that goes along with that, one of them broke up with me. Can you believe that? I was heartbroken and my mother, Jordan Elizabeth in my book, saw me dragging around believing that my life had been destroyed and didn’t say much until I finally came to her with my pain. She listened to my woe and devastation. She told me she

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My Mother Jordan Elizabeth Sanderson

was sorry that this had happened to me and then she said words that have held me together for all of these years of ups and downs. “You know we women are so lucky, for when the world falls apart, we can go clean house until we are exhausted and then we sleep. Or we can go to the kitchen and cook. Men don’t seem to have that option.” (Well, I know today they do, but this was in the mid-1950’s.) In later years just to reinforce her message, she had a sign on her kitchen counter that read, ‘When all else fails, eat!!’ That little sign is sitting on the decorative turntable on my kitchen island. (Yes, and these days weight wise I have to be careful not to take it literally.)

Not too many years ago my grandson Andrew came to me with a similar heartache and wanted direction and comfort. “You can do the same thing that my mother said to me. You can clean.”

“Well, how would I do that?” He asked.

“There is a Swifter in my cleaning closet and you can get it out and start picking up all of the Cara Cozy hair that is covering my floors.”

“Nah! I couldn’t do that and besides that’s girls’ work.” (See some of those stereotypes die hard.) I’m not sure if he has grown old enough to see the folly in his response. But if you are one of those types of men, there are still rocks to pound, sports to play, or doing something kind for someone else. The point is to feel those painful feelings while putting that energy to some use.

And now to the Paleo part of the cooking lesson. There are many programs out there images Paleo Diet Book 11 16 2017 - Copyon the computer to teach you how to convert to a Paleo diet–basically meat, vegetables, fruit, with little sugar. There are many good recipe books to help you get started. The reason for the conversion is that a gluten-free diet usually substitutes rice flour or a combination of grain flours in recipes, which are highly hypoglycemic. In other words it damages your intestines, stimulates your desire for sweets, and puts weight onto the body. One of the programs that I am using is Paleo Hacks and some of their cookbooks.

So, now having walked you through my day and how I handle some of my grief, I’m off to make that Paleo pie crust which uses nut flours and coconut sugar instead of what you are used to using. Happy cooking and a very happy Thanksgiving!!

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The Body of an Abused Woman

BirdAndDragon_FrontCover_33Those of you who have been to one of my lectures or read my first book, A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir know that I leave my first husband, Rev. Harvard Lesser right at the start of the book. And I give little explanation. The reason for leaving was the physical and emotional abuse I suffered in that thirteen-year marriage.

Let’s move forward forty years to today. I told you last week that I was having physical therapy done to help with the pain of spinal stenosis and the gradual forward thrust of my shoulders. This morning my therapist, Stacy, stood me up back to her, as she usually does, and put her hands on my head. “Oh,” she said, “Your back is calling me to this mid-section of the spine,” and she touched my back. It hurt. “Get up on my table.”

Stacy put her hands in several places and asked questions mostly about my sense of

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Physical Therapist working in Similar Fashion to Stac

personal security and the fact that it was shaken when I was five-years-old and was whisked off to a hospital for observation. At the time my mother didn’t explain anything about why I was going and then she had the nerve to leave me there alone. It has been a big issue for me over the years. But Stacy and I have worked a lot on this scenario.Suddenly she said to me, “And who is all this anger for? Is it for your mother?”

To my surprise I blurted out, “No, it belongs to Harvard.”

Stacy responded, “Okay, talk to me about that anger–no rage–that you have locked

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Left to Right Daughter, Elizabeth, Jessie, Daughter. May, Harvard, Daughter, Felicia

into your body.” Before I could really think I was telling Stacy about being on the highway with Harvard and our three girls. I was reading the road map and he was trying to follow his brother’s car on the New Jersey Turnpike. I was to look for the turn off where we would part company with his brother. So now I’m reading the road map, watching the car ahead, and looking at the road signs for the turn off. I missed the turn and said so. Harvard reached across the front seat with the back of his hand, now curled into a fist, and threw a punch into my solar plexus area. I could hardly catch my breath. Our oldest daughter, May, in the way-back of the station-wagon, yelled, “Don’t do that! You can’t do that to my Mommy!”

Needless to say, that has festered for many years because at the time there really was nothing I could do to address the insult to my body or to my sense of myself. By now you have likely recognized that I had become afraid of Harvard over the years.

Stacy immediately moved to the center of my body with her hands and said, “Just as I thought. You have developed what we call an energy cyst to protect that area and it is pulling on the spine and crowding organs around it. It is time to let go of this mass.”

Next she said, “How can you re-picture that event so that it is not so traumatic?”

I couldn’t think of a single re-picture that would be right and so I was silent. Stacy held her position with her hands for a bit and then moved to another place on my body. “You know, Jessie, at some point you need to let go of this. How can we help you let go of this event?”

The best answer I could give her was that I would have to work on it over time. And I

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“Gotta Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair” Song from Movie South Pacific

will. The use of my spinal column and legs is far more important than holding onto my martyr-complex.

But I’m sharing all of this because I think we women do not realize how badly we are compromised when there is abuse to our bodies, be it physical, sexually or emotional. For women our bodies are really our temples to house the soul. You can see from this story that I’ve carried this wound around with me for years and now, as I age, it is catching up with me. Time to wash that man right out of my hair!! You too must find a way to put words or healthy actions to your bodily insults and wash them out of your life. As Stacy says, “Let it go!!!”

Finding the Hummocks in the Swamp

For real! You don’t know what a hummock is? Well for those of you city ratsBirdAndDragon_FrontCover_33 unlike we country mice; a hummock is a low hill, or actually a mound of earth and grass in the swamp, and there are many of them, so you can cross some swamps on the hummocks. This is the way wild deer cross the swamps. But none of that information is in A Bird and the Dragon. You have to wait for my future book Sissy’s Story.

When you get to read my second or third book you will hear about my father having the “Saturday Afternoon Duty” so that my mother could have a few minutes to herself. My Dad was an outdoorsman, a landscaper, and a hunter so my Saturday afternoons were spent out in the woods. When it was summer

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Like Our Blueberry Swamp

and time to go pick the wild blueberries he’d take me out into the blueberry swamp and show me the hummocks. Then he’d say, “Now look for the hummocks and test them before you step on one. Some of them give way and will float off. If they are too far apart call to me and I’ll carry you to the next one.” You can imagine how safe I felt with this knowledge that even in a swamp there were safe places and my father would see that I found them.

I was talking to a friend this morning and referred to him as a hummock in my life’s swamp. He wasn’t sure if that was a compliment but indeed it was. It meant that he came into my life at a time when I needed the qualities that he carries in his personality. There have been so many times in my life when I felt I had no idea where I should look to find the next place that was safe to stand upon. And so many times it has been a person that I needed.

So how do these people get to you at the right time?  This happens by asking in

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Crystal Pendulum with a Bale

prayer, making a manifestation request, and for me it is taking out my pendulum and going through a list of names, articles or places. Now you are scratching your head about a pendulum. I’ve talked about them before. The ones I like best are made from quartz crystal points. The best ones are bound with some metal and fashioned with a bale so that the crystal is not pierced in any way that might interfere with the energy flow of the crystal. Or the pendulums my sister PollyAnne makes for me are wrapped in copper wire, copper being one of the best

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Crystal Pendulum with Wire Wrap

conductors of energy. These pendulums work well because quartz has a vibration that is compatible with the human vibration and therefore it receives and transmits a wave length that is easier for us to comprehend. We already have inside our heads all the information that we need. Or if we doubt this, we can open ourselves to the greater world and receive information into our brains from our spirit guides, a higher power or for some, from God. The crystal will pick up this information and relay it making our answer visible to us by how the pendulum swings when we ask our questions.

Many years ago I had been using a dog groomer and one time when I got my dog home there were wounds on her body. I didn’t want to confront the groomer but I certainly wasn’t taking my dog back, so I went to the telephone book with my pendulum at the ready and I went through the list of groomers until I found one that the pendulum motioned ‘yes’ to in such a vigorous way that I put the book up. Next day I tried the pendulum again. Once again it was very excited about this particular groomer. We took the long drive to the facility and have been there for over ten years.

I’ve also used the pendulum to find a doctor for my husband, Sy, when he was still with me. I’ve used my pendulum to choose between two situations that could have made me happy; which was the best for me. Once we were in Quechee, Vermont at the glass blower Simone Peirce’s store and I wanted a poncho. There were two different colors to choose from but which would be right for me? The pendulum made short work of that confusion and I was delighted with the choice.

If you are doing some sort of food plan you can use the pendulum to show which

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Which Foods are Healthy for You?

foods are good for you, because what may be good for the instructor of the plan may not be good for your particular body chemistry.

Some people have such a strong sense of their intuition they don’t need a tool like a pendulum to tell them what is right for them, but I’m not one of those people, so it is like having my father there, my way of knowing what is safe or best for me as I struggle through the swamps of my life.

Have you discovered any hummocks in your life’s journey? It is a bit like finding the rocks in the river but finding the hummocks is more of a being stopped or overwhelmed and then you see the way to go. I’d love to hear your stories.

 

Touching

BirdAndDragon_FrontCover_33For the people who follow this blog or have read my book, they are aware that my husband, Sy Kessler, passes away in my first book A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir. Needless to say his passing was very difficult for me.

This is almost four years later and I’m having some physical therapy done for the back pain that I’ve had off and on over the years. The doctors say it is spinal stenosis but I’m not into surgeons and knives and rearranging my back so I’m with a physical therapist that works with both the physical movement of the body and the emotional blocks that hold the body from releasing and taking a better shape.

Today as Stacy put her hands on a particular spot on my body she asked, “What is the first thing that comes when I say grief?”

My answer was quick, “Sy!”

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Sy at His Seventieth Family Birthday Party

“What is it about Sy that you grieve the most?”

“The loss of his being here for me and being able to touch his physical body.”

“Is there anything else along with that?”

“Yes, his attention to detail. I have always needed a person who could keep track of the details. My mother was the first, then my college roommate, and then Sy.”

“Okay, so which is the greater loss?”

“The fact that I can no longer touch him.” ….and the conversation went on from there. Sy’s death was sudden. In one day I went from being in our new retirement home as we two empty nesters, to living alone with two dogs. If by chance, you have already read my book you know that most of my life before that was a moving circle of people in my domestic life. So the loss was very great.

Now I want to take you back from the present by a few weeks. Those of you that follow this blog know that I had a best-selling author for an uncle and I wrote about Ralph Moody in one of my first blogs. On this one particular morning recently, I open up my computer and found an email from a gentleman I will call Hank, for privacy reasons, and he started out by asking if I was possibly the niece of Ralph Moody. I confirmed that I was and then I wanted to know why he was interested.

Hank told me that when he was a boy his mother read many of Ralph’s books to him. And then when he had children of his own he shared with them his interest in Ralph’s books (which are still on Amazon.com) because of the strong family values they represented. You can imagine that my insides were warming at this point. He went on to tell me that his grown and almost-grown children were aware that he had tried to reach Ralph through his publisher but with no success. Hank at some point must have found the obituary of my uncle’s death because he knew that Ralph spent his last days with my mother Jordan Elizabeth Sanderson (her name as it appears in my books) on the east coast.

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Stand-in Picture for Part of Hank’s Family

The story goes on. Apparently one of his daughters stumbled across my blog and read the one about Ralph Moody. She then started hunting on Facebook and found me and I guess found my website. She took all of this information back to her father which fueled his email to me. The upshot of all of this is that Hank set up a Skype session for me with himself and many of his children last Monday night. The Skyping was a bit messy but I did get to talk to at least six of his children and answer questions they had and of course questions from Hank.

I am so grateful that this stranger reached out to me because as you know things don’t happen in a vacuum and I had just begun to think that there was little reason in my continuing to struggle with writing this blog—that it seemed to me that almost no one saw it or cared. Hank and his children showed me that people who don’t have to, do care and cherish family and family values, too. His daughter must have known how much her father wanted to reach out and touch Ralph and what he stood for so she took the time to not only do the research but to then take more time out of a day to chat for a moment on the phone with me.

I am so happy that this family reached out to touch. It is ever so important. Thank you!!

Do any of you out there have stories similar to this one in which a stranger reaches through the media because you two have a common interest or a previously unknown connection?

The Weight of Family Messages

This particular blog is going to be more about the author, me, than about the characters in my first book, The Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir.

 I was about eight years old on the particular day I have in mind. It was a warm, bright, sunny day early in the summer with a sky of crystal clear blue. I told you

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Similar to my Forsythia Bush

before that my father was the landscape instructor at the community where we lived and therefore the gardens around our house were lovely. There was a large forsythia and bridal wreath bush at the east side of our house with the garden proper fanning out from these two foundation plants. I was in my pajamas and had crawled in under the cascading yellow forsythia bush where I had nestled down in the violets that filled in the unused patches of Daddy’s garden. I could small the warmth of the earth mixed with the dew of the morning and there was no other place in the world that I wanted to be. I could dream about anything here. My mother’s voice pierced the reverence of the moment with, “Birdie, where are you? You haven’t washed or dressed for the day and your breakfast is still on the table. It is almost 9:00 am. It’s time for you to come in here and get ready for the day!”

I was silent, holding my breath. Would she go away?

“Did you hear me?”

Reluctantly I responded, “Yes, I’ll be there in a minute.” I can’t remember now whether I waited long enough that there was another call from my mother but what I do remember is how I hated to leave that relaxed place of freedom and beautiful place for dreaming.

In a past blog I have talked about my maternal grandmother and how she supported her six children by washing clothes for a living out of the basement of her home, in

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The Basement Laundry Room

Medford Massachusetts. And I shared with you that in her own words she admitted that she was so exhausted by the end of her days, stirring clothes in soapy set tubs or bent over the ironing boards pressing fine ruffles, that she was unable to snuggle her little daughter. Their intimate times were as she crawled into bed at night and held her sleeping baby girl. So the message of hard work, done on a regular schedule, goes way back in my family. It was as if work was the passage to the wherever this life was taking all of us.

I was about ten years old when my sister, PollyAnne, cornered me and said, “Hey,

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The Davis Farmhouse which Stood South of the Apple Barn 

you know you are old enough you should think about getting a job. You can pick up apples at Davis’s apple orchard just like Owen and I did when we were small. If you want to go to college you’re going to have to earn some of the money, you know.” I knew what she was talking about because sometimes she and my big brother Owen did go and work in the apple orchards. It took me awhile but I finally cornered a girlfriend and we did go and pick up dropped apples after school and on the week-end. That first three dollar pay checked was such a prize.

Now I want to move much later into my life. My family of daughters was pretty well images PollyAnnes Hand knit mittens 10 20 2017 (2)out of the house by now and my sister PollyAnne and her husband Bud were driving up from Tennessee to spend a few days with my husband Sy and me. My brother-in-law drives a bit in overdrive (that is driving right over the tops of the other cars) and they made the trip in two days and an overnight. Polly hadn’t been in the house very long when she said, “Want to see the Christmas mittens I was working on during the trip up?”

My response was “Sure, but you were knitting in the car while it was moving?”

“Of, course! You remember Mother always said you shouldn’t have idle hands.”

“But in the car?!!”

“Of course, I always knit in the car.”

Now let’s move forward again to the point where my mother has come to live with

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Mother with my Dog Cara Cozy

Sy and me. We have moved from our retirement community home to the old mill house on Hopi Street. I have clients to attend to, my grandchildren and family are in the apartment above my head, I sing in the church choir, listen to a daughter in a frustrating marriage, write a column, and attend to the housework of our home as well as my mother’s care. One day Mother drew me aside and as if she were sharing a secret she said, “Sweetie, if you don’t slow down and take some time to rest I’m fearful you are going to get really sick.”

I wanted to scream back at her, “And who made me this way?!!” But I mumbled something about time to rest would come later.

Well, age-wise the time has come to slow down, but I have so much to do before they turn the lights out for me; and as my body begins to suggest that maybe it is time to slow down I can’t seem to shake those old weighty messages of no idle hands or hours for that matter. After this kind of a life and these family messages how do you learn to play?!!

I’m wondering: Do any of you reading this have the same problem with a weighty family message that holds you back from something that would be better for your health or wellbeing? Do you maybe have a vice induced from struggling with one of these subtle family messages? What is it?

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This is my Play?

Can You Picture It?

images couple fighting 10 6 2017The partners in this new couple-ship have been through some nasty times with their previous marriages. She was abused emotionally and once in awhile struck repeatedly for no good reason. He came home from his nine-to-five job to find his two children still in school clothes, or not at home yet, and nothing for the supper. His wife was out of it on the couch. So, let’s move forward in time.

We find this couple not yet a couple but in a groupimages divorce support group 10 6 2017 for divorcing or newly divorced couples. It was almost love at first sight. Within a short time they discovered that they were both the responsible ones from their previous living situations and had children to be raised. So was it love at first sight or need of support for one of the biggest jobs any human being is asked to accomplish; to raise five girls into relatively stable and productive women? I know because I lived it that it was first love, and then responsibility.

Scan0004 (2) Sy and Jessie early in thier relationship 10 6 2017.jpgThese two were so excited that they had found someone to love them, which they had never dared dream would happen, that they sometimes were not tuned into the rumblings that were going on around them as the girls began to find their places in the newly blending family. First the couple heard one set of children talk about what fun they had going to the animal farm; pop-corn, cotton candy, petting the animals and staying in a hotel at night. Then the comeback from the other group of girls was, “My Daddy has a boat and we go sailing every weekend!” The next round in this emerging war was about how smart each side of the family was and how stupid they thought their counterpoint sisters to be. By now the couple is realizing that this little cozy happy family wasn’t so happy. But what to do?!

The answer is simple: diversion. And we decided to set up diversion by building a new history. In A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir, my first publishedBirdAndDragon_FrontCover_33 book, you will find that we started with a walk at the local arboretum. Next, my soon-to-be husband, Sy and his ex-in-laws, invited all of the children for a picnic and kite flying afternoon. At Halloween the children all went to stay for the weekend with Sy’s ex-in-laws while we had some moments for a trip to my sister’s in Vermont. Then at Christmas we forced all the girls to go on a hunt for the perfect Christmas tree and at home all the fun of digging out the old Christmas decorations and putting the chosen ones on the tree. Those decorations came from both sides of the family and gradually the children over the years chose which ones became part of the new family. In my book you will also read that on that first Christmas my children had been brought up with gifts in shoes like the Europeans, and his children knew about stockings stuffed by Santa Claus. The next Christmas it was all stuffed stockings hung up on the fireplace mantle in our mutual new home.

We took the girls to the Children’s Museum in Boston and later to the Museum of Fine images meuseum of Fine Arts in Boston MA 10 6 2017Arts in Boston, among other trips. That’s where all of the girls wanted to go look at the mummies while one only wanted to go to the gift shop. But what our girls didn’t realize was that we parents were helping them build a future together instead of leaving them to build a battlefield out of old memories. I think most couples don’t recognize or are too self-absorbed to realize that children don’t have the capacity to build a future together. And just because a couple has found solace and support in one another doesn’t mean that the children are gaining much of anything out of this new union until the parents begin to “parent them.” The old system of “I’ll raise my children and you raise your children” does not work, People!! “Wait until your father gets home,” really has never worked, either. Both parents have to parent as the need for this direction appears. Children need to see by example: respect between the couple, and then growing respect for the children, and finally, respect between the children. It takes fortitude and time—lots of time!!

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The reward comes when Sy has passed on and—now picture it—the oldest daughter, my stepdaughter calls and says, “I’m just calling to see how you are doing. We haven’t talked in awhile. Call me when you can. Love you. Bye.”

Merlin Books Magic

One of the chapters in my first book, A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A birdanddragon_frontcover_33Memoir, talks about my husband Sy and I, with little or no training, starting a bookstore, but I don’t share much about what actually took place in that bookstore. We very quickly shifted from being just a bookstore with the best-selling conventional books of the day, to a store that carried self-help books: books on healing, crystals, astrology, Wiccan, out-of-body experiences, time travel, past-life memories and so much more. Once you have the books in the store than you need the teacher to teach and explain. That is where Whitley Dresser became a member of our team–or perhaps better put, our wizard.

With all these interesting people moving through our store I also became a student. One of the first things I remember Whitley telling us was that the mind actually can direct events in real time. When he learned this he was a young man driving along a back road in rural Vermont and in a rush to get to his destination. There was a hay truck in front of him driving as only a farmer can do in Vermont and Whitley was running out of patience. He yelled out to whoever might be listening, “For God’s sake, truck, get out of my way!!” Just as the words left his mouth he saw the truck swerve, tilt to one side and go off the edge of the road. Fortunately for all concerned it was not a big drop but the truck landed on its side in a pasture and the driver had some trouble getting out. Of course then everyone had to wait for the tow truck, men to right the truck and restack the hay, while Whitley was ashamed of himself, amazed at his power, and much later arriving at his destination than he would have been if he had been patient.

Before Whitley joined our teachers, there was a man Richard Roess who taught astrology for us for the first year. It was here that I learned about the birth chart of an individual as being the blueprint for a person’s life. Not everyone lives out their chart as it is laid out, but many of us do indeed have our “walking papers” given to us at birth. We can choose to grow into much of what is in the chart or not as we please. I now use the astrology birth chart for each new therapy client that I take on because it points to where the individual has been wounded, what things are necessary to help them heal, which parent is a problem to them, or perhaps some other event that has hurt them. It also shows who they are likely to attract as a partner and where their talents lie hidden. (The link is to my web page, click on ABOUT and then Training and it will take you to a birth chart.)

And then there were the classes on learning to trust one’s intuition and what a help that can be in times of trouble. I have talked about my maternal grandmother, Mary Emma, before. She had passed over many years before this event.

In the store we carried essential oils which can be used in many different ways,

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The Essential Oils in the Lower Right of Picture

perhaps most often in diffuses as aroma therapy. On this particular day I was on duty alone in the store and suddenly developed tremendous and painful gas cramps. Oh, I so wanted to run to the ladies room but there was no one to take my place at the front desk. I writhed in agony for a bit and then remembered that the essential oils were there on a front table and maybe one of them would help. “Gramma” I called out, “which oil will stop these cramps?” Clear as a bell I got back, “Peppermint.”  I walked toward the table carrying on a conversation in my head with her by saying, “But you know I really like Wintergreen better.” I had no more than finished that thought when I heard in her voice loud and clear “Peppermint!!” I did as I was told and the cramps subsided in minutes. Later, when I was changing the arrangement of essential oils I picked up the printed material that had come with them. And there in large print and underlined were the words “Wintergreen in this format is a lethal oil. Never take it internally.” Thank God for my grandmother and our mutual intuition!!

And my last story circles around Whitley and our sacred crystal. In my book A Bird and the Dragon I talk about Grampa Joe and the fact that he gave us a big crystal that he and his wife Gramma Bootsie had picked up on one of their many trips. The

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Grampa Joe and JessieMay

surfaces of the crystal points were covered with raised triangles and in the metaphysical world these are known as the ‘recorder crystals.’ Each triangle is believed to be a bit of information programed into or onto the crystal for others to discover at a later date. One day Whitley came meandering into the store a bit before his scheduled shift

Recorded Triangles on  a Record Keeper or Recorder Crystal

and walked over to the crystal and put his hands on it. He jumped back but with his hands still on the crystal and began almost chanting all the things he was seeing as he held this stone. From what I could gather he was talking about a civilization that was gone, but I would guess was somewhere in South America. He finally pulled away from the crystal, acted a bit drunk for a moment, and then said, “Don’t ever let anyone who is not educated in these affairs hold this crystal. It is much too powerful for most.”

This is the crystal that was stolen from the store just before we closed out the store and it was the only crystal never returned. I so often wonder what happened to that crystal and the person who took it. Did they know what they had? Did it cause them problems? Did it help them in their life’s journey?

Ah, another mystery; part of the magic of Merlin Books.

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The Outsiders

My book A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir is about the love story birdanddragon_frontcover_33between my second husband, Sy Kessler and myself, but it is also about the little details that go into taking two damaged families and combining them successfully into one family. We still have the holiday celebrations together even after Sy’s passing! You may find I paint a rosy picture of this family-building in my book and I never really talk about the two parents who became the outsiders to the new nuclear family. Sometimes these people wreak havoc on the newly constructed family. This didn’t happen in our situation but the boundaries of the new family need to be clear and defined and the love strong and full. The following stories I tell in the hope that an Outside parent will set aside their hurts and focus on the needs of their child.

When I was still alone in Grows Town with my three girls they would visit their father, Harvard Lesser, in his home about two blocks away. When they got back to me they were giddy, wound up tight, and had no interest in the rules that had been set in my home. I would actually have to say, “You are now home. When you are in Daddy’s house you live by Daddy’s rules. When you are in my home you live by my rules.” And it usually took a day for this reminder to set in. Actually, this rule ‘my rules in my house, their rules in their house’ works well even with friends and grandparents. Don’t hesitate to use it. Children need things pretty specific.

Both of our outside parents were not really interested in the daily grind of raising

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Inside the Crystal Mall 

children and so visitation from Harvard was weekly, but visits from Sy’s ex-wife, Min were at her convenience. As the girls got a little older, Harvard’s visits consisted of picking up Elizabeth and Felicia after school and driving them to the nearby mall. They told me that he would give them money and send them off to shop, while he either sat in the lounge area or found someone in the stores to talk to. From my perspective this was not really relating to them and I think they felt the same way. When we became aware of this style of visitation we talked to the girls about the fact that they could not always have whatever they wanted. Asking Harvard to limit the amount of money he spent on them didn’t change anything.

One Christmas as the blended family was opening presents under the tree, Felicia

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One of Felicia’s Six Bikinis

opened her box from her father and sat for a moment, I think wondering if it was alright to be gleeful. What she did was to show her box with its six little bikini bathing suits inside. Sy looked at me and frowned. He didn’t have to say it. Why did a girl of ten need six skimpy bathing suits from her father? When we asked Felicia, she said he got them because she wanted them. This pattern of the Outsider buying love is all too familiar to other blended families and it is a shame for what the child wants is really to talk to and share daily events with their outside parent. They want to be seen and heard not bought. And it also teaches them that the supply of money is endless.

Over time we found that although Harvard was getting a tax break because of

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The Covert War Between a Divorced  Couple

child support he was not paying any of the medical expenses on my children. Conversations with Harvard on this matter got nowhere.  Finally Sy put my girls on his insurance plan and the matter was closed. But there are a lot of families today that can’t possibly afford to do that and the children suffer. I sense this shirking of responsibility relates back to the covert war that can continue between the divorcing parents. But the only ones that this hurts are the children.

There are other stories but that is enough on Harvard. When it came to visitation with Min she would call beforehand to schedule a visit outside the house. That was fine. Sometimes when the visit time arrived she didn’t show. This was so painful for me to watch and have to help smooth over. I’m sure that these Outside parents had no concept of what they were doing to their children’s sense of personal value.

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I was Stirring a Pot with Min’s Spoon on Her Stove

Two incidents with Min come to mind. Sy and I were engaged to be married and it was during a school vacation. I was spending time with Sy and his girls in his home. I was busy getting breakfast when Min opened the front door and walked in. Here I am busily stirring something on her stove, in her pot, with her spoon. Talk about feeling awkward! She apologized and said she thought everyone was out of the house. I sort of apologized for being there and she waved off my comment. We struck up a short conversation. Annie, Sy’s youngest daughter, was standing by me as I was working at the stove. The moment her mother and I sat down to chat Annie crawled up into my lap. Min and I only talked for a few minutes and then it was time for her to leave. When she stood up I whispered to Annie, “You need to say goodbye to your mother.” Annie froze and squeezed my hand. Min and I talked a bit longer and then Min moved to leave the room. I bent down to Annie and I said, “You need to go say goodbye to your mother and I will hold your hand and walk with you over to her.” With this safety net, Annie complied and said her goodbyes. I was stunned!

The other incident is equally painful. Min had scheduled an appointment to take the girls out and both girls were excited and busily preparing to go. If you have read my book A Bird and the Dragon you already know that our back kitchen door opened onto a long platform up one story from the garage floor. It took us a long time to get everything put away on that first move-in together so the garage door

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Annie Stood Inside the Open Garage Watching as Her Sister Cora Ran Out the Front Door and into Their Mother’s Car

was often open and you could see who was in the car that drew up to the door from that platform. Min arrived. Cora the older daughter went racing out the front door to greet her mother. Min ushered her into the car, put the car in reverse and drove away. While this was happening, Annie was standing on that platform in preparation to go down and join her mother. You could see Annie’s little shoulders droop and I heard her quietly say, “What about me?”

I know there are reasons that there are divorces but that outside parent can affect a blended family in so many ways. I do wish the Outside parent would think about how their behavior affects and shapes their child.

Parenting doesn’t stop with the divorce decree.

Reaching Through The Veil

When I set out to write my first book, A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir I had two reasons in mind. One was to prevent myself from going into a birdanddragon_frontcover_33massive depression on the first year anniversary of my second husband Sy’s sudden death, and the other reason was to leave the love stories for Sy’s only biological grandson to read when Robbie became an adult. So I am sure people by now know that A Bird and the Dragon takes my marriage to Sy from the first days of meeting him to the last days of his life. And in those horrible days after the death, adjusting to my new life, I pretty much assumed that our days together were over. What I have found is that the days of physical contact are indeed over but the days of emotional and spiritual connection are strong and well.

I did have some warnings that he was not going to be with me forever but as most people do I turned them away and forgot. It is only looking back that I can see clearly that he was starting that new kind of communication. The biggest warning came in the summer during the time we were living in our summer cottage, between selling or big family house in Nerme, CT and building our dream senior retirement home in Forest North, in Center Town, CT. Sy was always in charge of the big purchases in our lives together: the cars, the houses, the taxes, the securities. I was in charge of those domestic expenses that usually pertained to inside of the house or to the children. We discussed most of these transactions but on this particular day we were driving in the car from our summer cottage to view the new house and out of the blue Sy said to me, “You will need to start saving for a new car.” My mind went around inside my head about three times thinking, ‘That’s not my job it’s yours.’ But I never said a word. Then the next thought was ‘that’s weird.’ But again I said nothing nor ever spoke about it.

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The Husband I Talk to at Night

In these last almost four ensuing years I have learned that in the first year after he passed he was very distant. I felt all alone and lost most of the time. I was in a new town, in a new house with only one close friend in the community. And he was gone!! But over time I began talking to his picture on my bedside stand at night as I crawled into bed. I’d talk to him and then say good night.

My mother who passed away three years prior to Sy’s passing had a very distinctive body odor. One night when I was crawling into bed, I could smell that smell and so I said, “Hey, Mom, have you come to visit me, too? Did you come along with Sy?” And to him I said, “You can’t go anywhere without her!!” Clear as a bell I got back. “You know she’s afraid to make the journey alone.” Now I have to tell you that Mom adored Sy so this was not such a strange encounter. We three settled down for a few moments together and then they both were gone and I was off to dreamland.

I’ve had other experiences like this with one or the other of them. My Dad has even gotten into the picture a few times, years ago. Right now he is pretty busy trying to keep my mother out of trouble, I’m sure. But all of this is preamble to what happened yesterday.

That day came yesterday when I had to go purchase that new car. And, (no I didn’t get much money saved for the car), but the miles on her were telling me it was time. I talked it over the night before with Sy and he agreed that it was more than time. So the evening before closing down the lights for the night I asked Sy to go

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This is Similar to My New Car

with me next day and just guide me through the process. On the way to the dealership I asked again for him to be around and watch that I made wise choices. I had done my research so had some idea of what I wanted and what I wanted to pay. I got a very nice young man to work with through the purchase; and I have to report that I got my new car for exactly what I had planned to spend, got the car I wanted, and the salesman also guided me to a new insurance company where I will be saving a good bit on insurance. Now when Sy and I were married and involved in doing something big like this it always seemed to go smoothly, like he was my lucky penny. And I guess by reaching through the veil he is still my lucky penny.

I hope those of you who have lost your dear one have some of these same kinds of reassurances that the relationship is not over it has only changed in its physical dynamics. I would love to hear stories like this that some of you may be carrying. Please reach me at my personal email my2little25bird78@gmail.com.