This has not been the happiest of times. Here's the deal. This past month or so I've learned that my brother in January will begin undergoing radiation for prostate cancer. My sister in Santa Cruz, whose spinal stenosis keeps her wheelchair bound, canceled my proposed visit, claiming she just wasn't up to seeing me.
Then earlier this week I got a phone call from the wife of my half-brother, telling me he had died this past August of complications from melanoma. She'd just discovered my phone number on an old Christmas letter in one of his dresser drawers and wondered if I could notify some of the other relatives from his father's side of the family. She wondered if I had any memories I could share with their children of Albert or his and my father, Al. I mailed her two stories I'd written about our father, Daddy and Raggedy Ann, recently published in "Thin Threads: Compassion and Giving," and Foote Notes from My Father, which I've submitted to a few potential publishers.
Over the weekend I finally watched the Masterpiece Theater 2005 production of Charles Dicken's own Bleak House, three DVDs, each 2 hours and 25 minutes. It's got Gillian Anderson turning in a riveting performance as Lady Dedlock, and Carey Mulligan shimmering as Ada Clare. Though it might be the best production of a Dickens novel I've ever seen, it did little to lift my sagging spirits, even though (spoilers ahead) heroine Esther Summerson gets a "happily ever after," at its conclusion. Well, of course, it's Dickens typical Victorian conclusion...can't leave the folks in the provinces down in the dumps, after all.
To add to the melancholia and general malaise, the ice and snow have transformed my snug home into a true bleak house, gray and gloomy. Even the dogs and cats move listlessly around the living room, peering out at the frozen fog. Just look at the photo I took the other morning. I warned Ken when he ordered the painters to change the maroon trim to white that he was eliminating the only spot of color to brighten a winter day landscape. White on white.
So to try to segue into a more positive mood, I've concentrated on the future. I've browsed Holland America's website and selected three possible autumn cruises that cover Venice and the Greek islands that I've always wanted to visit, and sent a letter to a girlfriend with a suggestion that we consider scheduling one of them. I've poured over the 2011 Cambridge University summer catalog and nearly settled on some selections for this next summer.
And to take care of the present, I finally visited my doctor for a long overdue annual checkup, and am scheduled for a mammogram later this week.
So suddenly this morning the sun has burst through. Natty and Nami are enjoying the backyard winter wonderland. I'm crockpotting some meatballs for the annual AAUW FUNdraiser holiday party and silent auction this afteroon. Maybe I'll pick up some surprise Christmas gifts for grandbaby Kendra or her parents...I'll be seeing them soon for the holidays.
One more touch...I took down the autumn welcome sign and put up something cheerier...and a little more crimson.
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