Thursday, March 31, 2011

Samhain and the New Year

"Set sail, set sail, over the waves where the spray foams white, into the night, into the night; set sail, set sail, turn your face to where the veil grows dim, beyond the rim, beyond the rim; set sail, set sail, follow the twilight to the West, where you may rest, where you may rest; set sail, set sail, make of your heart a burning pyre, build it higher, build it higher; set sail, set sail, pass in an instant through the open gate, it will not wait, it will not wait; set sail, set sail..."  ~Reclaiming ritual verse

© The Witches Garden;
     October 31st is a high holy day for witches. It is Samhain (sow-een)--not Halloween. We gather together in circles all over the world, and create altars in memory of beloved dead; we journey from this land of the living to the Western Isles-Afallon (the Isle of Apples)--the land of our dearly departed to visit them.
     One definition of magick is changing consciousness at will. Ritual work requires expenditure of energy, for it is the energy of our will brought together with the energies of our desire that makes magick occur; personal energy is the foundation of craft work, which is why one needs to be healthy in body, mind, and spirit to practice strong and ethical magick. 
     We don't eat before ritual, so afterward we gather for a meal to ground us again here in the world and in our bodies. High holy days require a feast, and the feast of Samhain is one of my favorites. We create altars around the house in remembrance of our dead loved ones. We set one place at the head of the table for all of our dearly departed. We cook their favorite foods, and we eat in remembrance of them.
     The veil between the worlds is thin on Samhain. If our beloved dead wish to return for a visit, this is the time they often choose to appear. In the old world turnips were hollowed out and a bit of candle stub was lit inside; the lantern was set near the door to guide the soul of a loved one home.
     When our immigrant relatives came to America they brought their practices with them and made use of such as this new land provided. Now we use pumpkins as lanterns to light the way for the souls of our dearly departed.
     The first day of November is our New Year's Day. It marks the beginning of a fallow time when all things in nature go to bed and to the earth, in preparation of the arrival of the The Cailleach--the winter hag who brings the killing frost and the winter storms.
     In the ancient traditions of the Americas, November 1st is El Dia de Los Angelitos (for dead children) and the 2nd is El Dia de Los Meurtos--the Day of the Dead.
El Dia del Lost Muertos offrenda
     Over a three day period graves are cleaned and decorated with Marigolds, toys, food, and candles; sugar skulls are decorated and eaten, and altars or offrendas are built in remembrance. Feasts are prepared and eaten at the graveside, while stories of those dearly departed are shared, to encourage the souls of the dead to visit. Ancestor worship has been an integral part of every ethnic culture on every continent on earth since humans have loved--and mourned.
     This Samhain I will remember Valerie Biggs, and welcome her spirit in love. Meanwhile Les and I cope with various family issues that arise amongst our children, and mechanical problems on NB Valerie...
1 am hysteria: Spark and me waiting for her train
     When my favorite youngest daughter Shiery (aka Sparky, Spark, or Sparkala) was six she came up to me, wrapped her little arms around my knees, tilted her face to look at me with her wide, chocolate chip brown eyes filled with love and adoration and said, (through her missing front teeth): "Mama I love you tho much I'm gonna' live with you until I'm thirty." She is a mama's girl through and through.
     By early November Sparkala has been told about the seriousness of my relationship with Les. She--not knowing Les and I have been emailing one other regularly for an entire year previously--is convinced I've gone off my rocker over some mad English Lothario I've only known for one week.
     Panic sets in and anger; my lovely Sparkala is worried sick I am ready to throw off my current life in the next breath and allow Lothario to whisk me away to England--bibbity, bobbetey, boo! Phone lines were busy in my house late into the night.
     Across the Atlantic Dear Sir is grappling with his own family issues, and life five thousand miles away from the one he loves...

From: les biggs
To:Jaqueline Almdale
Sent: Sun 10/31/10 5:09 PM (9:04 AM in Pullman)
Subject: tried to phone
Hello my little Peach,
     Our clocks went back 1 hour last night and the evenings now seem pretty grim with darkness closing in so much earlier. Still January is on the way and a big metal bird will place me in your arms once again only this time the hugs will be special. 
     Is it really another 3 months? I feel like `wee man`, trapped, but unlike him only needing to get through a door, i have 5,000 miles to get across to reach my desire. 
     You are right of course that it would be pointless me being there only to see you go off each morning to Uni` and as is said `absence makes the heart grow fonder` but in the meantime it breaks a little each day.
     All i keep thinking is how perfect it would be with you by my side cruising the canals and showing you all that l have discovered since being afloat.
     I now have a little gizmo on the clock in the bottom right of my computer screen that pops up to tell me the time where my loved one lives. I have it set on Pacific time and until your clocks change you are only 7 hours behind me.
     Wow just thinking, have you put a spell on me because i feel so much love for you? Naaaaaaaaaah even a Witch as nice as you wouldn't want a captive love; no it's the human part of you that has cast a magic mist enveloping me in love and warmth.
     Tell you what Jaq, when you said you were a Witch i had no thoughts at all other than that if you were a Witch then my definition of one was seriously flawed. I want to know more of everything in your life as i'm sure you do of mine, the ups and downs, happiness, sadness but not by e mail or phone.
     No now we are--can i be old fashioned and say courting--i want to be next to you when we can talk under different rules; the rules of love where nothing is taboo and truth is paramount with no subject too hard to discuss.
     Next time you speak to Sparky please assure her i`m not a big ogre trying to part her from mum and do in fact care for her feelings as much as i do my girls here.
     Give wee man a stroke from me and tell him he can sleep on my head next time i'm in his territory.
     Now i'm gonna press send and try and get through the political garbage and give you a bell on the blower: slang for i'm going to ring you on the phone or at least try.
Love and hugs as usual,

From: les biggs
To: Jaqueline Almdale
Sent: Mon, November 01, 2010 12:45 AM (Sun 4:45 PM in Pullman)
Subject: Bits and Bobs
Hi there gorgeous Peach,
     Hope you have had a better day than i have. Nothing tragic so don`t fret. It seems every thing seemingly going wrong. After speaking to you in the early hours i went to bed at about 4 am on a high, which is always the way after hearing your voice, with the intention of going into town and getting your photos printed.
    As i told you on the phone the video copying was not working so that was swirling about in my head as i was trying to get together some little snippets of my journeys on disc to send you.
     I got a bit of shopping and happened across a computer shop. The chap inside gave me a couple of ideas to try and that perked me up a little. Now i've just remembered the Cherry pie i bought, so the kettle is on to help wash it down and it's 12.30 am, what am i like eh!
     Anyway the tips i picked up had no effect so down a notch went my confidence and the laptop was left at the dinette on it`s own while i sulked in the armchair.
      Poor Joanne is on the phone stranded with a broken down car but as she had a cell know what fits where the dots are so Jesse and l won`t say it! Kev was soon on the scene sorting things out.
     Getting my passport application completed and ready for mailing plus talking to you here via cyberspace makes me feel closer to you and has lifted me up again.
     Anyway the wind is blowing some electrickery into my batteries via the wind genny and i have had the washing machine going earlier and plan now is to go back into town tomorrow and get the computer man to sort out the video problem.
     Still keep thinking about Sparky and was looking this afternoon at the pictures you sent me months ago. Have you spoken to her lately?
      I was going to stay up tonight and phone you but i only slept 5 hours last night. Normally that wouldn't matter, but the day has worn me out a bit. I must say just talking to you on the keyboard makes me feel good. Thanks for being there Jaq, but wish you were here.
     Just glanced across the table and the 3 remaining photos of the five i had done for my passport are staring at me. God i look old; are you sure about me? I can hardly give them to anyone as the government insists i don't smile, so who would want a picture of me looking like a convict on the run from San Quintin.

From: Jaqueline Almdale
To: Les Biggs
Sent: Mon, November 01, 2010 6:36 AM (2:36 PM in England)
Subject: Bits and Bobs
Hello Les, 
     Sorry to hear your day went off the rails a bit...Sorry to hear Jo’s car broke down…glad to know Kev came to the rescue, bless him. I'm going to ignore that cheeky remark you didn't make about my not having a cell phone!! :)
      Ooh! Cherry pie! I do love pie—better than cake I think. Peach pie is my very favorite but whoever hear of a bad cherry pie, yeah? 
     Yes, Spark and I have been talking on the phone and emailing and Facebooking. I reassured her that I was not whisking off to fair England next week, never to be heard from again. These things take time and anything worth doing is worth doing well and right. 
     She wants me to design a tattoo for her and me and we’ll get them done together before I leave for England. I'm thinking of a dainty tattoo of forget-me-nots. 
     It’s just as well you didn’t call as I am working on the book. I turn off the phone when I’m writing. And I need to write like a fiend just now. 
     No worries Les; I’m for you and you are for me—down and dusted. As for your age, the man I spent a week with larking about all over the Palouse seemed ageless to me. 
     Although I do remember the winter I turned forty two; I looked in the mirror and all of sudden a good night’s sleep wasn’t restoring anything but my sanity. I could watch myself age that year. That’s okay. We wear the faces we earn in life; yours is so very dear to me. I miss you so,
Jaqueline XXXXX0000

From: les biggs
To: Jaqueline Almdale
Sent: Wed, November 03, 2010 2:30 AM (Tues 6:30 PM in Pullman)
Subject: Bits and Bobs
Hi there my darling,
     Have attached a video of Braunston in what is the first of my reports to you of my travels, hope it's not too painful seeing what you are missing but take it from me i will fret until you are standing next to me seeing all this with your own eyes. There is a piece of video attached, hope it works, and when i get the video laptop problem sorted my intention is to send you a disc on a regular basis with live moments of my travels.
     OK so possibly this will be my last e mail for a few days unless the computer man fixes things quick.
     I just need to occupy my mind...I know in my heart you and i are made for each other. I will phone you........sod it gonna phone now i want to hear your voice......phoning...
     Dear Sir and I talked late into the American nights and early into the English dawns. Our emails flew back and forth across cyberspace throughout November. Sparky wondered what in the name of the Goddess we found to talk about for three hours every other night. Jesse didn't ask--married twelve years, she knew how every day details could assume great significance when they occurred in the life of a loved one.
     Les created videos of his travels near Braunston and Rugby, putting them on CDR's and mailing them to me. Narrated by him, the sound of his voice talking gave me warm shivers and an achy heart. Seeing him cruising aboard NB Valerie made me feel deleriously happy and unbearably sad in the next moment. I felt like I had come down with emotional flu.
     Mid November Les emailed to say the drive plate in NB Valerie had broken apart in situ. A call to River Canal Rescue (for Americans this is the canal and river equivalent of Triple AAA for drivers), sent an engineer to confirm Les' suspicions. 
NB Valerie at Hillmorten locks, courtesy L. Biggs
      Stuck at Hillmorton, Les was concerned about stocking up on tinned groceries in case the canals froze solid. He was using a different grade of coal hoping he would soon connect with working boat Hadar, and NB Valerie was cold, as was he. While I knew Dear Sir could and would sort it all out, I still worried about him.

From: Jaqueline Almdale
To: Les Biggs
Sent: Wed 11/10/2010 9:29 PM (Thurs 5:29 AM in England)
Subject: re: News & Stateside memories
Hello my love, 
     Jesus wept; when it rains it pours. While my Welsh grandmother Lilly George always said the whole world hasn’t turned entirely to crap if you can still get a decent cuppa, that will only take one so far.
     I’m sorry to hear about the boat but thank the Goddess it is a small £ repair and not a thousand £ repair, and that you are safe. I don’t blame you for not wanting to crawl around the wet and cold, tinkering in a tight, dirty space looking for bits and bobs and trying to effect a repair.
     I don’t worry about missing your calls Les. You know if I don’t answer I am otherwise engaged: an occasional evening out with friends or I have the phone switched off because I’m writing. If I am writing I always have my email open so if something comes in I can view it and answer immediately or wait till later. If it’s from you it takes precedent—even over the work of writing. 
     Sorry the coal is shite. Wish desperately I were there to keep you warm. 
     I am so glad you have really good memories of the people here and not just of places visited. There are more folks to meet who will fold you into their lives and families...Cheri’s mom and dad are really fine folks—the epitome of kindness, love and fabulous good humor.
    And Patti and Steve. If you need to stay over in Seattle a night to make a decent connection on Alaska Airlines to Spokane or Pullman let me know when and I can ask Patti and Steve to collect you for the evening. They would love to meet you and you will find them to be kindred spirits—like us.
      You are correct, I choose my friends very carefully, and I take my friendships seriously. I am blessed indeed to be surrounded by so many good friends including those you've met like Chrisi, Keith, and Sandy, as well as those you've yet to meet like Cheri, Jerry, the collective feminist power of The Wednesday Women, my oldest and dearest college mate Adelina Gonzales, Karen and Jim Barron, and others...
      Karen Barron is my very special friend. I am forever grateful to her for taking me up to Kamiak Butte-and I am so happy you feel as I do; Kamiak Butte is our place—yours and mine. 
    I do remember the squeaky lamb fondly. Every time I think about it I laugh out loud and there we are—you and I--laughing together until we are silly with it. I miss you more than words could ever convey,
Love Jaqueline 

From: les biggs
To: Jaqueline Almdale
Sent: Thursday, November 11, 2010 7:18 AM (Wed 11:18 pm in Pullman)
Subject: Keeping my loved one informed
Hello my beautiful Jaq,
     Just a quick update on the boat. I have just arrived at a very slow pace in the Willow Wren Marina in Rugby. The parts have been ordered and all being well will be here Friday. I have TV signal plus Internet and Rugby town centre is just a short walk as is a very large Supermarket so the original plan to stock up for winter still stands. Oh and the good coal is now in use.
Bye for now my darling.

From: Jaqueline Almdale
To: Les Biggs
Sent: Thu 11/11/2010 7:40 AM (3:40 PM in England)
Subject: Keeping my loved one informed
Hello love,
I’m so GLAD to hear you are moored somewhere near civilization and its necessities. And good coal! YES!! I slept miserably last night thinking of you shivering in the dark, on a silent boat. Also relieved to hear the parts will be there and should be fitted in as well—on Friday.
Talk with you on Saturday Les.
     My thoughts and heart continually flew to England and Dear Sir. As November rolled on toward Thanksgiving, we both attempted to stay busy in an effort to keep our mutual loneliness and sadness at being apart from one another at bay.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered Am I

Van Doren Hall, WSU Pullman, WA
     After agenda check and my rather flighty, embarrassed explanation of why I was late, we all headed off to our desks and offices. In the advising suite, friends gathered 'round and wanted to hear more.
     "He wrote, ' time there will be no hiding place for your lips!'" I said with a dreamy sigh. A collective "AAAAHHHH!" escaped from the gathered women with several patting their chests and two hugging themselves in delight.
     "He's wooing you Jaq!" said Chrisi with a wide grin."Oh Jaq this is fantastic! This''s a book! Oh Jaq! Your love story would make a great book! Never mind the cancer book--put it aside and start writing your and Les' love story. You can always go back and finish the other book later, but this is just so wonderful. You are such a good writer and everyone loves a good love story!" Heads nodded in unison all around as my friends and colleagues hugged me, wished us well, and slowly drifted back to work.
     I was dumb struck by Chrisi's suggestion. I knew how amazing and miraculous our story was, but then, I was in it. Everyone who's ever fallen in real, true love has a story, and thinks their's is the  greatest. I mulled over this idea of hers for several weeks. In the meantime....

From: Jaqueline Almdale
To: Les Biggs
Subject: Tossing and Turning in My Sleep
Date: Thur 10/28/2010 5:20 AM in Pullman WA (1:20 PM in England)
Good afternoon Les,
     It is 5:09 am here. I tossed and turned all night. I hope you weren’t too disappointed by my last email. Life here goes on at a pace—and without you. :( At least I managed to find my glasses right off this morning. Miss you so very much—words don’t do this feeling justice. Miss the warmth of your hugs, and the sound of your voice.
     I’m going to dinner tonight with Cheri Curtis—my heart sister, whom you didn’t get to meet because she was sick with what turned out to be the intestinal flu bug. She and her husband Jeri want to meet you and they are both ready to welcome you with open arms into their family.   
     They have completely redefined the meaning of family and acceptance for me. They already accept you as family because I am so remarkably changed by having met you, and Cheri—who believes in true love and happy endings--declared when I told her about us, “Thank you GOD! Hope lives, in the guise of an Englishman.”
     She always believed there was someone for me, even when I didn’t. She’s deflected my cynical nature for years. When Cheri called Jeri and told him, he got all teary eyed and said to Cheri, ‘It’s about time someone else sees Jaq for who she really is and loves her like she deserves—besides you I mean!”
The Snake River & Hell's Canyon Park, ©
     Cheri and Jeri want to take you/us on a jet boat day trip on the snake River to Hell’s Canyon, so keep that in mind for a trip back in warmer weather sometime in the future.
     Sitting here trying not to cry, aching for your presence. You can bet I will be a woman of great motivation between now and January. Lot’s to do and keeping busy will keep my mind off missing you?? Nope—doesn’t work that way.
Love and Hugs,

From: Les Biggs
To: Jaqueline Almdale
Subject: Phoning You
Date: Thur 10/28/2010 3:12 PM in England (7:12 AM in Pullman, WA)
Hello Peach,
     Just a quick note as i want to phone you but note you are out to dinner tonight. If you read this before you go out reply and i will know when to call. I will monitor my e mail.
Love you lots

From: Jaqueline Almdale
To: Les Biggs
Subject: Phoning You
Date: Thur 10/28/2010 5:34 PM in Pullman WA (Fri 1:34 AM in England)
Hello Les,
     Dinner called off. I just arrived home. I am going to crawl into a hot shower for about ten minutes and then wrap up in my robe and make a cuppa. Then I will sit patiently with WW magazine and wait for your call. It is 5:34 pm my time.
Love Jaqueline

From: Jaqueline Almdale
To: Les Biggs
Subject: Missing you
Date: Fri 10/29/2010 3:16 AM in Pullman WA (11:16 AM in England)
Hello Love,
     Not sleeping so well. Fell into a near coma after we talked, buoyed by the sound of your voice. Awoke at 2:30 this am by Wee Man who is desperate to go outside. I came home last night to find a notice on my door that due to complaints by other tenants about the large cat population at the trailer park and the growing amount of cat feces found in people’s yards, we can no longer allow our cats to go outside.
     Poor Wee Man doesn’t understand why I cannot let him out. He will use the cat box but his nature is that of a night time hunter. He is meowing pitifully at every window and door.
     Thank you for calling me last night Les; for your reassurance that this is real on your part too, and that you are real and not an amazing dream.
I love you!

From: Les Biggs
To: Jaqueline Almdale
Subject: Missing you
Date: Fri 10/29/2010 10:07 AM in England (2:07 AM in Pullman, WA)
Hi Jaq my Peach,
     Amazingly i opened my eyes at 1.15pm my time but as bedtime was 4am i suppose it was to be expected. Staying up until 3am here to phone you is not a problem if only i can get through on the new phone service as i can easily see bankruptcy looming if i carry on using the mobile route.
     Just phoning the kids from your home while i was there cost about $95 and i will chat to you a lot longer than that. I will keep looking at different methods to hear your voice as i can`t bear not to...January seems a long way off but the reward of your embrace will be worth the wait; shit Jaq i`m so wound up about you, and to be able to see the love pouring from your inner a dream come true.
     Life on the canal is a great way to live but to have someone to share it with is a bonus; i've found that person and you're not getting out of finishing your time in this life without me. I've thought of many ways we could share this dream which can be achieved with 2 little words that l for one would gladly say so sure that i am of how i feel about you Jaq.
     I went to the UK Border Agency web site to look at visa application processes and I think that is going to be the hardest part.
     I just want to give my whole self over to you--to share everything with you. Relationships can not be successful if done piecemeal, and i don't and wont' have any secrets from you.
     The wind is blowing like mad, the sky is ready to dump it`s tears at anytime, but typing this i feel a warmth inside that the weather will never penetrate, nothing will ever swamp my inner self with cold because all i have to do is think of is you and i glow...i am so attracted to you, and i love you lots.
     Plenty of boats going by but that`s the way Braunston is with the choice of routes being London, Rugby, Oxford and Warwick and as i sit here i am not sure which to take as none of them will lead me to you. I can at least be content that i can choose either and take you with me because where my heart goes so do you.
     Now 5.15pm and the afternoon has vanished, Andy (Tina) has texted me to say they will collect me next w`end to go to an out of town market set up on an old dis-used airfield so that will be a nice little jaunt with 2 people i regard as good friends.
Napton Marina November 2010 © L. Biggs
     Saturday i will go into Daventry--just 10 mins on the bus to get a bit of shopping. Last night i made a sausage casserole, so tonight`s meal will be the second part of that with some spuds added.
     Clocks go forward Saturday night so the darkness will close in earlier eating away the day. Boat priorities are to re-fuel and get some coal and hopefully find some fallen trees to cut up for cheap winter warmth. Just looked out and the sky has started to cry.
      Tonight l will try to do some more of the video editing and free up some space on the camera cards, i just have to make sure all is copied to disc before i delete anything.
View from NB Valerie, near Braunston © L. Biggs
     Attached are some photo`s: first is the marina where NB Valerie is moored on the towpath on the left ready to depart having been moored next to the boats on the right while her captain was away visiting America. Next is the field i moored opposite. Keep your chin up and look after those lips for me. All my un-questionable love and devotion is yours.

From: Jaqueline Almdale
To: Les Biggs
Subject: Missing You
Date: Fri 10/29/2010 10:29 PM in Pullman WA (Sat 6:29 AM in England)
Dear Les,
     It’s fine to shorten my name to Jaq—everyone does it and I am comfortable with it. I ask only that you not call me Jackie. My family called me that growing up, and it’s not my name. My given name is Jaqueline, and Jaq is the nickname I chose for myself. I’ve been known by Jaq to most of the Uni for years. Folks are sometimes surprised to meet me, and find out “Jaq” (Jack) is a woman.
      The politico’s automatic phone dialing schemes are in full swing. I arrived home tonight to find five messages on my phone--all auto dialed within the space of an hour and a half. One was a voice recording of Barrack Obama, another was from the Loyal Order of the Police asking me to vote Republican; the third was from some polling group and so was the fourth and fifth; as I sit here typing the phone rings yet again and it’s another polling group—this time for the Republicans.
     If a person—or an answering machine--picks up the call, then the automated machine drones on to the end of the message even if the answering machine cuts off or the person hangs up. It’s a damn nuisance.
     We vote nationally on November 2nd, hence all this political craziness. After Tuesday it will all be over for another two years.
     Oh Les! When I told you to use my phone to call home I meant just pick up my land line and dial direct. Surely it would be cheaper than using the mobile. $95.00! Jesus wept--that’s intercontinental telecommunications robbery.
     If Skype works for you then we could set up a pre-arranged time say, twice a week to talk with each other—once when you are up in the wee small hours and once when I am up at the wee small hours. Fair is fair my love. And hearing your voice is my lifeline to reality and sanity about this whole amazing experience in which we find ourselves.
     You’ve been here before, with Val, but I’ve never been here before with anyone. I know what you mean about being wound up. I go from being utterly euphoric to being completely terrified. This feeling is so much bigger than anything I’ve ever experienced Les. In order to trust this is real I need for us to take things slowly.
     I hope you will understand. I get why I feel the way I do about you—it is because of the way you treated me when we were together and about who you are—the person who’s company I experienced; but I am struggling with the intensity of your feelings for me—so suddenly. I don’t lack self esteem—believe me, I like myself for who I am and I enjoy my own company.
     It’s extremely hard, after all these years of dealing with men who didn’t quite ever see what was special about me—or didn’t quite get me--or who did and found themselves absolutely terrified by the depth of the relationship that might ensue, because it would mean they might have to work at something instead of having it handed to them, to believe you find me so amazing, attractive, and lovely—and yet that is absolutely how you make me feel.
     I am baffled and awed in turns. I didn’t do anything but be myself. I cannot think of anything I’ve done that warrants such deep devotion, desire, and love so quickly.
     I recall our conversation on Thursday evening after W&W. You shared with me your consideration of a life with someone else and the attendant pro’s and cons. I appreciated your willingness to trust me and speak so openly and candidly. You also said you would never marry again.
     If I were an heiress I’d be suspicious but I can safely cross that off my list! I will always be honest with you as well. It’s the only way I can be. Please understand that my terror isn’t of you—or us—it’s about how quickly this has grown between us. 
     I am overwhelmed with love and gratitude that you would say those two words to me. If/when the time comes and you do say them I want them to be for the right reason: because you want me in that way, so I can say yes. And as we both agreed, a piece of paper does not a relationship make. Neither of us needs it to prove we love the other. I believe too that relationships cannot be done piecemeal. We have to give ourselves wholly to the process or not at all. We just have to make sure the process allows us both time to work through things in a manner that allows growth and surety about the outcome.
     London, Rugby, Oxford, or Warwick—that’s a tough list of choices mate! :) I appreciate that none of them will bring you closer to me, but you are right--I travel with you now. Rest assured my heart goes where you go too.
     I’m so glad you will be going with Tina and Andy to get out and do something fun. I worry about you. I am here, surrounded by my friends. They are the family I made for myself. They love me, support me, and are happy for us both.
     You are out there alone, cruising the cut, kept company by your own thoughts and this crazy intensity of emotion. Please, please take care of yourself. I think the only thing that is going to get either of us through the next few months is attempting to live a normal pace of life, getting caught up in trivial everyday things. Otherwise, I don’t know about you but I could well lose my mind. I will Google Daventry.
     I will also be buttoning up the yard and porches for the advent of winter. Tomorrow I’ll put up the deck chairs, the umbrella, and sweep everything down carefully. Next weekend the car goes in to swap the summer tires for the studded winter tires. Remember driving up into Snoqualmie pass, into the mountains as we left Seattle? The pass has snow on it now.
     Cheri Curtis is coming over to dinner and a movie tomorrow night. We'll have home made beef stew, fresh bread, and my signature Green & Black hot cocoa with cognac and watch Leap Year with Amy Adams and Matthew Goode.
     Thanks for the pics! Please keep them coming so I know where we are. I’ve added them to my computer photo album. How incredibly lovely your home is Les, so very lovely… My chin is up. Keep yours up too.
Love Jaq

     I was out of my depth now and everything seemed out of focus and slightly blurry; unable to sleep, I paced the house like a lioness in a cage. I was totally distracted at work when I should have been thinking about my students; I had no appetite. I put on my coat and took off my pants. If my car hadn’t known the way to work and back home again I’d have been parked out in the toolies in the middle of a damn wheat field trying to figure out how I got there. 
     I glowed when I thought of Les. Part of my restlessness came from feeling as though I had the sun, the moon, and stars inside me now. People told me I looked seventeen years younger; my walk and the way I held myself was completely different. I was no longer shuffling grimly through each day with my teeth clenched and my head down, in survival mode.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I can't Get You Out of My Head

"Meeting you was fate, becoming your friend was a choice, falling in love with you was beyond my control!" ~unknown

From: les biggs
To: Jaqueline Almdale
Sent: Wednesday 10/27/2010 4:57 pm (8:57 AM in Pullman, WA)
Subject: I Want to See You I Want to Hold You
Jaqueline my darling,
     I can`t get you out of my head and l don`t want to, l feel sure we are made for each other and by hook or by crook we will be together until one of us stops breathing. Not since Val have l had these feelings and l just love the way l feel.
     I want to come back before Christmas to talk in depth with you about how we can be together so please let me know how things are in regard to your vacation allowance because for sure l need to be with you real soon. If l only come for a week l don`t care as long as l can be with you and just get to know each other and this can be to any limit you set. As l type this your face is leaping out of the screen, your eyes are shining and that smile...............l never thought l would ever feel this way about anyone ever again. The warmth that emulates from you melts me into a helpless goo but l have no fear, only trust which--together with the love i feel--must be the most important ingredients for a loving relationship.
     I've just read this back to myself and can`t believe what i`m reading but it`s true, only the length of time since l felt this way makes it seem daft but l really feel so at ease with you, so safe, so loved. We can make each other so happy, l just feel it.
     Let me know how you feel about me coming back, can you get time off or would that eat into your vacation time that you might be wanting to use next year. Christmas is fast approaching, does the Uni shut down? The kids just want me to live for myself so an American Christmas is fine by all.
     This evening l took Andy & Tina to the local pub for a meal as a thank you for organising the boat mooring and checking all was well on board while l was away. As we sat in the bar after the meal l just yearned for the love they had between them; l feel i`ve found that.
      I`m not daft and realise 6.5 days is a short time but l also know how l feel and will go to any length to make things work between us. It will work Jaq if we want it to.
love and hugs,
Versailles © Jean-Marc 2007
      I had much the same feelings: giddy, euphoric, and lit up like Versailles during the social season. The cheeks of my heart hurt from smiling; my feet didn't seem to touch the ground when I walked. 
     I thought back to November 6th 2009 when this story began: "Who Knew? Really, not me. I was the most cynical of all cynics when it came to true love. I told my daughters, "Love is a disease that makes you deaf, dumb, and blind.  Your brain goes right out the window and your body starts thinking with parts totally unsuited for major life decisions...."  
     I couldn't blame this on hormones because the cancer staging surgery removed my uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.  I felt as though I would float away if I didn't tether myself to some ordinary piece of reality.
View from the kitchen, Cloudhouse, Pullman, WA

     I was still amazed at Dear Sir's courage. It takes tremendous trust to fly five thousand miles to another country to stay in the home of someone one has never actually met. I told Les so on Tuesday morning of his visit as I made breakfast. I stood in my kitchen with an apron on, poaching eggs.   
     "What would you have done if you had got here and discovered I was a right bitch?"
      " I knew you weren't--especially after we spoke on the phone." He chuckled, sipped his tea, and said, "My girls back home asked me the same question!" So Bev and Jo had some concerns too. It reassured me to know they loved Les enough to bring up the issue for consideration.
     "And??? Les you are five thousand miles away from everyone you know--a stranger in a strange land. You took a huge chance flying over here without ever having met me. What would you have done if things had soured between us and I turned out to be a nasty piece of work?" I stared at Les frankly, curiosity locking my gaze with his. He peered back soberly, a dead serious look in his eyes. 
     "I'm an adult Jaqueline; and a gentleman. I wouldn't have been mean or rude. I would have said 'sorry but this isn't going to work out,' thanked you for your hospitality, packed my bag--walked into town if necessary--and taken a hotel. Life is too short to spend time with someone who makes me miserable. I won't do it."
     Our talk turned to other topics but I mulled over Les' answer. I was impressed by his honesty and need to be true to himself. It was the same answer I would have given if the table had been turned. 

From: Jaqueline Almdale
 To: Les Biggs
Sent: Wednesday 10/27/2010 9:02 PM (5:02 AM in England)
Subject: RE: I Want to See You I Want to Hold You
Hello love, 
     I have every belief this will work Les. I am a realistic optimist and I don’t go into big things in life without looking at every side of an issue. 
     I am chuckling to myself because I was thinking of enlisting Bev and Jo’s help in surprising you at Christmas! Great minds run in the same direction. Unfortunately December and the first half of January are the crazy busiest times for WSU Online and I will not be allowed any time off other than the holidays.
     Fall semester ends December 17th and final grades post December 22nd. Once final grades post we have to review all of our business majors to see whose grades from fall 2010 allow them to certify into their major. These students cannot register for spring 2011 courses until they are certified.
     The other huge thing that occurs is that with the final posting of fall 2010 grades on December 22nd, those students who are deficient academically—whose GPA’s drop below a 2.00--will only have five working days between December 23rd and January 2nd to read the notification of deficiency, go online and fill out the reinstatement application, and submit their documentation. Deficient students and reinstatement boards suck up a huge amount of time. We work harder from the middle of December to the middle of January than any other time of the year.
     With four surgeries in four years I have used all my annual and sick leave. I managed to save aside enough for our week together combined with a bit of comp time but as of right now I have none saved at all.
     Can you hold out until January?
     There are no lengths to go through to make it work between us Les. You already do make me happy. Just hold on to the amazing lovely time we had together and know it can be that way for us every day—and better. We just have to figure out the logistics. I believe this with all my heart. I promise I won’t disappear, or melt away, or change my mind. I’m yours if you want me—and I believe you do. 
      Just know that what is important to me is being with you when we can make it happen in a space and time that allows us to enjoy being together. It would be a total bummer to have you here and have to send my lips—and the rest of me--off to work every day. 
     I would only want to be with you. I would resent having to go into work every day knowing you were here and I cannot afford to do that. I have to be present for my students the way I want and need to be present in every moment when you and I are together. 
     Anything less is disingenuous. Cancer taught me to truly be present in every moment of my life. Otherwise whether one’s life is short or long is irrelevant—that life is wasted. It is one of the many gifts I harvested from that dreadful disease. 
     This will give you time to settle back into life on the boat, sort your vacation pictures and post them to your blog and should you choose to—and I hope you will—pick up your blog again.
     I promise you Les I won’t change my mind about you—or us. My word is my bond.
     Thank you for being so understanding about the things from my past. I promise I will always be honest with you Les. The other reason I’ve not been intimate with anyone since my divorce is because I can only give that part of myself to someone who understands that just as my written word is my truest voice, my intimate self is my most vulnerable part of me. That part can only be accessed by a man who is willing to reach for it with strength and gentleness; with desire and real love for who I am. That is what I was referring to when I told you during your visit, I am awkward about male-female relationships. 
     I can want you with all my heart but you will have to make the first move for me Les. That awkwardness comes from my childhood. I can get over it but I cannot reach beyond it initially. That child is my guardian and she will not let go and allow the woman that I am, room to move forward into the moment until she knows I am in the hands of a man who will take care of me. It all sounds complex I know; just know if you reach for me I will be there.
     I am so grateful you answered my very first posting Les. From the depths of my heart. And so very happy you trusted me enough to begin our email friendship. And so blessed that you had the amazing courage to fly five thousand miles to stay with a stranger and believe it would be okay. 
     So I’ll end here for tonight with a true story to make you laugh:
     Not only do I glow like I am lit from within by the sun, I am distracted by my sudden good fortune in having you in my heart and life; by a sudden whiff of your aftershave in my car when it has sat in the sun and warmed up. I find myself replaying dozens of things you said and did while you were here. To put a fine point on it—I am distracted and dizzy, giddy, and gobsmacked. 
Moscow Food Co-op; ©
     So I went shopping after work last night to the Moscow Food Co-Op for some supplements and veg. I came home and unpacked the bag, took off my glasses and read the receipt while I put the groceries away. I changed out of my work clothes and fixed a cuppa. I checked my email and wrote to you. Then I floated off to bed and sleep about 11:30 or midnight in a cloud of bliss. 
     I woke up this morning, showered, dressed, and was gathering myself together. I couldn’t for the life of me find my glasses. Now I try to be habitual about putting them in the same place whenever I take them off because I cannot see them to find them—if you know what I mean. 
     After forty five fruitless minutes of looking in every conceivably logical place I gave up and looked in the fridge—and there they were on the shelf next to the orange juice! (Yeah it’s true—the fridge is the final place to look when all logical places have been searched.) I was late to work and had to explain why to the gathered multitudes at agenda check.       
     Those who met you on your visit gave me knowing smiles. Everyone else is looking at me very curiously. I have literally transformed before their eyes and they don’t know why. The loving care and kindness of a good man is what makes a woman feel beautiful. Thanks for making me beautiful Les. 
Love and hugs,