Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Time to be Born...

"To every thing turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn, and a time to every purpose under heaven..." ~from the Book of Ecclesiastes; song by Pete Seeger.
Michael, Jesse, Ben and Matthew
       In the deepest dark of winter 2010 my favorite oldest daughter was large with her third child and nearing her time. Jesse and her husband Ben have two wonderful sons, Michael Tyrone, and Matthew Boyd, ages eleven and six. The boys are extremely smart, creative, engaging, funny, kind hearted children, and they awaited the arrival of their newest sibling with excitement.
We all have our genotype and our phenotype. Genotype is the word for all those genes we inherit from our parents, their parents, etc. Our phenotype refers to the genes which are expressed physically in each of us. Children are a curious and wonderful mixture of genes--some expressed, and some not--of all who have come before on both sides of the family tree. The limitless mixture of inherited traits resulting in our children is a genetic crap shoot. I always tell people that I do not engage in games of chance and gambling--I've had two children and that is gamble enough for me.
Jesse's root Beer eyes
     To look at my favorite oldest and favorite youngest daughters standing side by side, one would really never conclude they are sisters. Jesse is the spitting physical image of her father--huge, dark eyes with long lashes, dark auburn hair, with a light golden brown undertone to her skin. He is part American Indian--Apache and Cherokee.
      Shiery is a throw back to an earlier set of family genes belonging to her great grandparents on my side.
Jesse and Shiery's father
      Black Norwegian, my paternal grandfather was a handsome man with black hair and piercing blue eyes. He stood six foot two and had fair skin. Sparky resembles her great grandfather in her phenotype: she is five feet ten inches tall (very tall by the standards expressed in my family), and very fair skinned. She has her Welsh maternal great grandmother's chocolate chip brown, close-set, piercing eyes.
     Jesse does not resemble me much at all other than in height. There is no doubt who Spark's mother is--we not only look alike we sound alike and are often mistaken for one another on the phone.
      Ben's family is German; Michael and Matthew express their German genes with their blonde hair, lovely blue eyes, and extremely pale, fair skin. They look like their daddy. Jesse's phenotype expresses a mixture of delicious dark genes inherited from both of her parents.

Shiery (Sparky)
       I am one fourth Puerto Rican on my maternal grandfather's side. He was mestizo--part European and part American Indian. In Louis Fay Echeveria's blood line is the very story of the America's: Spanish explorer meets Taino Indian and subdues the tribes until they no longer exist as a separate cultural entity--except in our genes.     
     The enforced importation of African slaves to the Caribbean is also there in my genotype, enriching my family in unknown ways--for sadly we have no means of ascertaining where in Africa--or from what tribes--they came. I know only that the blood of survivors flows in my veins and expresses tell tale clues in my phenotype. 
     Pictures tell me that my mother inherited her father Louis' nose--distinctive in its shape. Our nose is short, triangular, with wide nostrils. I have my mother's nose; Jesse has my nose. Where did our nose come from?
Green eyes & a hidden
Puerto Rican Heritage
Pictures of Taino Indians living today in Puerto Rico tell the tale for they--and we--have the same nose profile. Who will Jesse's third child resemble? What distinct characteristics will express themselves in my soon to arrive grandson? What history will present itself to the world as told in the bloodlines of this child?
     Michael and Matthew resemble Ben. Jesse wishes for one child that looks like her--dark eyed, dark haired, golden skinned. 
     Winter Solstice comes and goes; Christmas passes and still no baby. Huge drifts of snow block highway 27 out of Fairfield, Washington. Jesse is huge, ungainly--and sick and tired of being pregnant. If the baby arrives before midnight December 31st, Jesse and Ben can claim it on this year's tax return and receive a bonus amount back from the government.
     The Cailleach comes now--the Winter Hag--sweeping down from Canada and in from the Pacific ocean, bringing numbing cold temperatures and unusual amounts of snow in huge, violent storms. Her winter rags touch the earth and human activity slows to a trickle in the bone piercing cold.
     On Wednesday, December 29th 2010 a gigantic arctic front sweeps down from the North moving swiftly, colliding with a warm, moisture laden air mass streaming up from  the coast of California; the Cailleach is riding the jet stream now, bearing down on Washington State. 
     Twenty four inches of snow pour out of the sky accompanied by roaring winds of fifty miles an hour as She keens and howls on her ride Eastward bringing death and destruction in Her wake. Portland, Oregon is at a total standstill; Seattle streets are empty of traffic after a previous evening of bumper cars totalling one another.
Pullman Albion Rd. courtesy L. Biggs
     In Pullman, we are dismissed from work by one o'clock in the afternoon by order of the University President.
     A white-out has obscured the world. Slowly we make our way home.
     The Palouse hills are covered in summer with pasturage. In winter, with nothing to stop the relentless winds, snow drifts in dangerous piles across roads, yards, and buildings. In a strong storm a road can become un-passable in minutes.
     Having made it home I do what I always do in such weather: fill things with water in case the electricity goes out, light the pellet stove, start a pot of rich, brothy soup, shovel the front porch, back deck, and paths around the yard. I log in to work using my remote desktop and complete my day's business when the phone rings at ten till five in the evening.
     Ben's quiet voice tells me, "Jesse went into labor an hour ago. We got a break in the weather just in time for the county snow plow to make a pass through Fairfield and open the road. We're at Deaconess Medical Center."
     "I'm on my way!" Hanging up, I move immediately into crisis mode due to the weather. What Ben doesn't know is that this white-out storm, having passed through Pullman, is now headed north towards Fairfield and Spokane. I  will be driving into the very teeth of it in the dark, in order to reach Spokane and my daughter in time to witness this birth.
     My children were delivered by Cesarean section--Jesse by an emergency surgery after twenty hours of labor and Shiery by a planned C-section. I have never seen a child born and I refuse to let the Winter Hag stop me from participating in my grandson's arrival.
     With emergency supplies in the trunk of my car, I head out for Spokane--a woman on a mission who will not be deterred by snow drifted roads, cars in the ditch, or emergency vehicles flashing their strobe lights in the woolly darkness.
Night time blizzard on
 the Palouse; L. Biggs
     Passing semi trucks crawling along the highway at twenty miles an hour, I am thankful I was raised--and taught to drive--in Alaskan winters. My hands are steady on the wheel as I lean forward, peering out the windshield, overtaking the storm.
     The Cailleach and I are traveling north together now. Stopping several times I use a hand full of snow to wipe away the wet, heavy flakes bogging down my wipers, sticking to my car windows.
      Crossing into Spokane County I catch up to an enormous yellow snow plow and follow it the rest of the way into town. Spokane is besieged by the storm--the third to dump snow on the city in ten days. Snow plows cannot keep up with it and giant berms of snow four feet high are piled into the middle lanes of downtown streets. Finding a parking place opposite the hospital entry I arrive cold, wet, and exhilarated, wearing a powder coat of snow.
     In Jesse's room all is quiet and muffled from the chaos of the weather. The roads from Fairfield are snowed shut again. This means that the 200 people in a town of 400 who are related to Ben will not make their usual appearance at the hospital to watch the birth.
     They have all seen babies born including my grandson Michael; I have not and this is my daughter. I want to share the experience with Jesse and Ben alone. The Cailleach grants me my wish.
     Jesse was given an epidural. It is seven pm and we settle in for the wait.
     She chose to be attended by a midwife, who comes to check on her progress at intervals, while a nurse comes in and out, preparing the baby's staging area. I watch with awe as a machine records Jesse's contractions, remembering my own birth pains thirty years ago which brought her into the world.
     After a long night of hard work, finally it is time.
     Ben braces Jesse's left foot and leg, and I take her right one. We work together, the five of us; Ben and I push towards her, Jesse bears down. The nurse supports Jesse from behind, the midwife eases my grandson's passage with warmed olive oil.
     After three serious contractions his head crowns, the midwife counts down, the next contraction hits and she grasps his head and pulls him loose from his mother. Out slips my grandson into the world and the waiting arms of the midwife. Connor Earl Kiddoo, eight pounds, thirteen ounces and twenty two and a half inches long has arrived!
     He is bright eyed and alert. He does not cry but breathes deeply and stares at us intently. Connor's birth was unlike anything I expected. It was quiet and calm, measured, and well paced.
     It is the celebration of an unbroken line of women in my blood, in my daughter's genes, who gave birth to each succeeding generation, from the time millions of years ago when our first human ancestors labored to bring forth the next generation through the eons to the present moment. Those women all sing in my blood--my bones; the genes of the men they mated with provide the bass line and that rhythm beats in my chest and Jesse's; it is Connor's soul song filling the room and our hearts... 
      Ben cut the umbilical cord of his new son, and the nurse wrapped Connor in a blanket and handed him to his dad. Affection poured across the face of my son-in-law and tears formed in the corners of his eyes. The nurse took Ben's arm directing him toward the staging area where Connor was weighed, measured, and bathed.
     I stayed with Jesse while she continued to labor and deliver the placenta. I was in awe of my favorite oldest daughter. She has done this three times with total concentration and unwavering determination. She and Ben make the most beautiful babies!
     While Jesse got cleaned up, Ben handed Connor over to me and we stared into each other's eyes for the first time. They say newborns cannot smile but he did--Connor smiled at me! I searched his features for the signs of the ancestors--who's chin, who's eyes, who's fingers and toes?
     After Jesse and Connor settled in to their hospital room, I drove to the Rocket Bakery on First Avenue to pick up some breakfast. In the 5 am velvet dark, my footsteps crunched on the night's snow fall as I inhaled crisp, clean, snow scented air. The bakery was softly lit and quiet, a few intrepid regulars seated at tables with their lattes, pastries, and morning papers.
Mim, Connor, and Jesse minutes after his birth
     Returning to the hospital, Jesse, Ben and I ate together in amiable quiet. None of us had slept and we were filled with a good tiredness. Connor watched us in turn, his curious gaze melting our hearts.
     Kissing my family, I headed out again into the winter dark morning for the long drive back home and another day at work.
     Toiling through the night, snow plows managed to clear 2694 miles of roads in Spokane County and 1900 miles of roads in Whitman County.
     The Cailleach had moved on. Across the West and the Midwest the storm raged onward. Twenty five foot waves poured over the retaining walls of Lake Michigan, and 700 motorists in Chicago, Illinois abandoned their vehicles on three lanes of the Interstate, snow covering them over.
     I drove eighty six miles in time to shower, dress quickly, and make it to work by 8 am, filled with amazement, gratitude, and joy.
           Connor, age three months
 And who does Connor resemble? He has my eyebrows and my eyes, but they are his mother's dark brown color!! Connor's expressions are his dad's; he shares Ben's cheeks and chin and my smile...and his mother's dark hair and golden skin. I have finally witnessed a child being born, and participated in the miracle of birth. I can cross another item off my bucket list.
Jesseca, age 9 months

Thursday, April 14, 2011

We Haven't Even Snogged

"Soul meets soul on lovers' lips." ~Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Unbound

     One evening Dear Sir said thoughtfully, "I cannot believe we have never snogged! I feel so close to you, and I love you so much Jaq. It doesn't seem possible to know someone so well when we haven't even kissed."
     I am so GLAD I know what snogging is; because if I didn’t I’m not sure I’d want to do it! What a word for kissing. It sounds like something to do with kilts, clogs, and holiday grogs. It also tickles me no end to have someone use it in reference to me!
From: les biggs
To: Jaqueline Almdale
Sent: Saturday, November 27, 2010 6:04 PM (10 AM in Pullman)
Subject: Love
Hi there light of my life,
     Just gonna ramble on because i'm trying to get my head around the way l feel. I've been Googling the words Love, What is Love and also love poems and came up with these: 

"Love me without fear / Trust me without questioning / Need me without demanding / Want me without restrictions / Accept me without change / Desire me without inhibitions." 
- Dick Sutphen

If I could have just one wish,
I would wish to wake up everyday
to the sound of your breath on my neck,
the warmth of your lips on my cheek,
the touch of your fingers on my skin,
and the feel of your heart beating with mine...
Knowing that I could never find that feeling
with anyone other than you.
- Courtney Kuchta

     Also been searching through the WSU site putting your name in the site search box --nominated by student for advisor of the year and came out on top, checked out the MySpace site along with FaceBook, reading your profile and posts; read through a few more of the past e mails you sent...can't seem to sort my photos on the laptop, a job i've been meaning to do for weeks. I sit down to do it but you distract me........why?........simple really....i know the answer so why do i ask the question. Yep i sure am in love with you Jaq.
      I just want to absorb you but it's hard to when you're not next to me telling me what i keep reading, as all this won't sink in fully. Google helps find things: Wiccan/Gerson Diet/Priestess of the Goddess/Green Witch. I've read so much but still know so little of you, but none of that matters a jot. 
     Well i do know a lot but not of these things and all the other bits can just come along for the ride--they are just an arm of you--the things i know....strange that i want to see your name all the time....i can't think what i need to say, not need to say but am trying to say................................................not going to read this back as i'm just hitting the keys fast saying how i feel...rambling on but what the hell....Jaq i love you so much this is daft but if you stop to think we haven't even kissed and yet we are so in love not that i doubt my love...i know i love you but just cant get what makes people function this you know i feel like getting on a plane now, coming back to you and talking our way into the Guinness book of World Records for the longest talk.
   OH MY GOD. I'm back in normal mode Peach and have just read this back and have decided to send it as it came out of my head. I think you get the idea and can translate the ramble into some kind of sense and understand this comes from a guy that absolutely worships you and wants you for the rest of his life. 
It's 2am here so i am off to bed. I will phone you Sunday.

From: Jaqueline Almdale
To: Les Biggs
Sent: Sat 11/27/2010 9:09 PM (Sun, 5 AM in England)
Subject: Love Returned
Wild nights! Wild nights!
Were I with thee,
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile the winds
To a heart in port, --
Done with the compass.
Done with the chart!

Rowing in Eden!
Ah! The Sea!
Might I but moor 
Tonight in thee!
--Emily Dickinson

The Whole that is Made of Wanting
Naked dancing among cacti and brambles
Barefoot over hot razor blades on skittish feet,
How often I threw myself to love 
Like a piece of meat dropped in a shark tank.
Trust is a flowering, fragrant, fragile. 

Andante: the bud unclenches and the satin 
of the peony opens with a languid rustle 
till the trembling pollen is bared.
The doors of the spine swing on their squeaky 
Hinges. The belly opens its single eye to blink. 
The hands loosen, water lilies on their pads. 
The feet present themselves like hungry puppies. 

Eat, drink I am your daily bread 
And you are mine made every morning fresh. 
In the oven of the bed we rise and bake 
Yeasty, dark, full of raisins and seeds. 

Rock on, my bed of trust feathered 
With our hopes, a quilt worked of care 
A patch at a time of all our old half-lives 
Velvet and burlap, denim and fur. 
In a daily sunrise miracle we join our 
dreams. When two hands come together 
They grasp, they hold on, and at last 
They close on what they are meant to find. 
--Marge Piercy

     Oh Les I feel the same way. I am wandering in some lost place, some purgatory of waiting to be with you again, and I am filled with wonder that it is possible to feel this way at all after only one week spent with you. It’s true, we've never kissed, or touched intimately or made love to one another, or even slept in the same bed.
     But those things I believe are best reserved only for those who deserve them of one anther in the name of love. We spent that week together doing the important things for two strangers: finding out if we liked each other, if we are truly friends, comfortable in each other’s presence.
     Too often in these jaundiced and jaded days of the twenty first century we are urged to skip ahead of the dance and fling ourselves into intimacy’s embrace before we even know the color of one another’s eyes, or whether or not one could truly give all of one’s self--heart and soul--to the person in our bed or our body. 
     I have had my one night stands and tissue phase (where I went through men like a box of tissues) in my tender youth. Those events are equivalent to eating night after night at McDonalds and wondering why we are still starving and malnourished. 
     I don’t regret those assignations because they taught me about myself. I chose to be celibate—to save the core of my most intimate being all these years because I know my woman’s heart: I cannot be truly intimate with someone I do not love, and for me anything less is not worth the risk or the effort.
     Men and women differ in that respect, so we are told, but I think not. A man can have sex with a woman he doesn’t love, true enough, but he will always withhold some vital part of himself from her. Even at the moment of climax there will be a subtle wall between them. 
     Some women don’t know this, some don’t want to, and some are willing to settle for whatever a man is willing to offer—even if it is not the tenderest and most vulnerable part of him. For some women, something is better than nothing at all. A woman who denies the knowledge of these things is someone who chooses not to---or does not know how to be--in touch with her own reality.
     I knew all I needed to know about you at the end of that week: You are patient and the soul of calmness. You notice EVERYTHING—nothing escapes your keen perceptions and you take the time to truly consider that which you notice. You are very intelligent and can keep up with me intellectually; you have an extremely curious nature, which feeds your intellect. You don’t just ask why something is or isn’t—you follow on to seek answers. You are a thinker, like me. You know how to think on your feet, which makes you good in a crisis.
     You are the soul of gentleness which tells me you are also a soul of great strength. Cruel people are weak; it takes great strength to be gentle. I also know that you don’t suffer fools gladly. You might ignore them in general but if someone were to seriously threaten you and yours your temper would offer itself up and you would defend yourself, your position, and those you love. You have a long, slow fuse on your temper, but you know when a situation is worth the effort of true anger. This tells me you had a good relationship with your father. You loved him and he loved you, and showed you he loved you; he taught you how to be a good man.
     You laugh from your belly; you laugh with your whole being, and you can give yourself over to laughter. You aren’t afraid to be silly. This tells me you are a person who knows the value of wit. You have a great sense of humor and impeccable comic timing. You see humor as I do—in small things and large—and you laugh at life’s absurdities. You know how to make me laugh which is a tremendous turn on for me. 
     You find joy in the little things, and life’s greatest gifts do not pass unnoticed by you. You know how to love and be loved and you understand what joy is. You know how to be happy, and you know what makes you happy. You are comfortable in silence. Most importantly, you know who you are, and you are comfortable in your own skin.
     You are a gentleman in an age that has forgotten what a gentleman is, and the importance of conducting one’s self with responsibility to self and others. You have impeccable manners. You placed your concern for me before your own desires. That more than anything speaks volumes: it tells me you are not a selfish bastard.
     You know your heart and you know how to listen to it and heed your heart’s desires. You don’t deny your emotions. Love doesn’t scare you. 
     You genuinely like women as people. You appreciate us and what we as people have to offer and not just in relation to what might selfishly feed your ego. This tells me you had a good relationship with your mother. You loved her, she loved you and she raised you well, and taught you how to genuinely love women.
     While you love women, you are not a cad. You could have fed your ego seven fold on the attention of the women you met the week you were here. You didn’t need to. You have a healthy enough ego to recognize your own self worth realistically. But your ego doesn’t run your life, your dick, or enter the room ahead of you.
     The only way I could know all this about you at the end of seven days is because you let me know it. You were your authentic self—no pretenses, no bullshit. This tells me you are an honorable person. You say what you mean, and mean what you say. You walk your talk. 
     You are the man I didn’t believe existed. You found me, you “get” me, and you love me. For all of these things and the man you are, I am on my knees weeping in gratitude and thanksgiving.

This aching, this wanting you: your voice, your touch, 
all the idiosyncratic things that make you up. 
Your name echoes through my head all day 
and sings me through every night’s restless slumber, 
until something in me cries out at your absence 
and I wake up and reach for you, sinking back 
into the pillows with longing for you 
so intense my skin burns with it. My mind is 
dumb to all other considerations.

In this absence one from another, I am 
discovering spaces and vacancies previously 
unknown. The spaces between my fingers where 
yours fit perfectly. The vacancy in the house 
where the faintest trail of your scent still 
lingers. The vacancy in my bed, though you have 
yet to lie there; I feel your strong arms around me 
and your warm belly and thigh outlined against my back, 
my thighs. The only places in my whole damn world 
that are not vacant of your presence are my head and my heart. 
--JM Almdale
November 27, 2011 
P.S. When we are together in February you can ask me anything—anything you want to know about me and I will gladly tell you. In the meantime, think back through the week we spent together and see if you can recall what my behavior and actions told you about me. Perhaps it will help, if only for a little while. Thank you for the beautiful poetry—strong, clean words that point straight to the heart of things—like you.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thanksgiving for Valentine's Day

     As Thanksgiving Day approached Sparky decided it was time to plan a visit home. I suspected she was coming back to run a check on her mother's sanity; after all her area of expertise is working with developmentally disabled adults, and what appeared to her like a sudden foray into the fields of love after years of warning her off that beaten path made her worry that I might have misplaced my marbles. She chose the last week in February as her ETA. Les was looking into booking a flight back to me in mid January...
     During one particularly long phone call Les said thoughtfully, "Listen Jaq, I don't want to be away from you one more day than is really necessary but I've been thinking it might work better if I came back closer to the beginning of February and stayed through ohh, probably the 22nd of February. What do you think darling--will that work out all right for you?"
   Oh-My-Goddess!! My mind spun immediately to a February calendar and that one date that jumps out like a sore thumb for anyone not involved in a relationship--February 14th--the day for lovers......there is nothing like a universal day of hearts and flowers to remind all those single by chance or choice just how single and alone they really are. But Les wanted to move his return date to the the 22nd, a week past Valentine's Day. My heart leaped in my chest.
   "Oh Les! Oh Les!!" My voice rose half an octave in excitement.
   "What darling? What is it?"
   "OHH LES!"
   "What is it Jaq--tell me sweetheart--you can tell me anything. What's the matter darling?"
   "Valentine's Day!!!"
   "Oh you clever girl, you figured it out.
   "Oh Les! You are so romantic. I am pinching myself now--really I am--I cannot believe this is happening to me. You will be here for Valentine's Day--You want to be here for Valentine's Day! Can we go out to dinner?" I feel like a child meeting Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, and the tooth Fairy all rolled in to one for the first time.
   "Of course we can darling. We can do anything you like--go out--stay in; whatever you want Jaq."
I can tell by the puzzled tone of his voice that Les is pleased but a little confused by my overwhelming response. I am dazzled and dizzy, and totally twitterpated all over again.  Every time I come back down to everyday reality, Dear Sir does or says something kind, affectionate, funny, or utterly romantic, and my heart, soul, and brain all take wing once more. If this keeps up I am going to have enroll in flight school and learn how to navigate at 30,000 feet.

From: Jaqueline Almdale
To: Les Biggs
Subject: February flight plans
Date: Mon 11/22/2010 8:32 PM (Tues 4:32 AM in England)
Hello love,
     I am so touched that you thought of being here for Valentine’s Day Les. I’ve never so much as received a card, candy—anything--for Valentine’s Day from man or boy before.
     I might have to work the second week you are here and a couple days while Sparky is here, but those few days won’t be too bad. And you will be here the first two days of her visit which gives Spark a chance to meet you and time for the three of us to spend together.
     I woke up to four inches of snow blanketing everything this morning and a calm windless sky shedding its lining like goose down. We are under a blizzard warning here since 2 pm and the University let folks leave early.
     Currently we have 8 inches of snow on the ground and rising, with high winds from the north drifting snow dangerously across the road. I arrived home just in time. Snow had drifted up the walk and obscured the first three step of the porch. I cannot lift a shovel because of my back but—a witch always has a broom handy!
     I swept out the driveway, the walkway, and the porch in order to get inside. That is the way of things on the Palouse where there are no trees and tall embankments to stop the wind from blowing and drifting the snow.
     This warning lasts through 10 am tomorrow morning so I will no doubt be unable to get out of the park much less get down the drift-closed road. That’s fine—me and Wee Man will be cozy. I’ll start a fire in the pellet stove, get a loaf of bread to rising, and make a pot of vegetable soup. I’ll sit in my jammies with my cuppa at the computer and remote into my work desktop and work from home.
All my love,

From: Les Biggs
To: Jaqueline Almdale
Subject: how long did we talk?
Date: Mon 11/22/2010 12:35 PM (4:35 PM in Pullman)
Hello gorgeous,
     Back on the boat Monday 2pm after a visit to the kids and a stop over to Amanda's to help her out with some interior redecorating work she needed doing.
     Fire lit first then a move back to Newbold for a meeting with myself to decide my next move. I feel so much to be part of you that i have to keep you informed of my every move, nice feeling, and any updates on OUR plans.
     WOW! did we really talk for 3.45hrs, it seemed like just an hour so easy is it to talk to you and that confirms how much we feel for each other. Gonna sign off now as it`s 8.30pm and i need to eat.
Love you always

From: Jaqueline Almdale
To: Les Biggs
Subject: RE:  how long did we talk?
Date: Tue 11/23/2010 6:16 AM (2:32 PM in England)
     Good afternoon Les,
     Yes we really did talk for over three hours! I am always amazed at how quickly it seems to go--unlike the rest of my days and nights without you.
     Attached are highway cam pictures of the blizzard’s aftermath. Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, Washongton and Portland, Oregon have snow and in Seattle that pretty much shuts everything down as you will see from the pictures which I captured early this morning. The snow out in the lane is up to mid-tire on all the cars and no sign of snow plow out on the county road leading in to town so I am happily ensconced at home, pellet stove alight, bread rising, soup started, cuppa on the desk and getting ready to start work.
I love you,

From: Les Biggs
To: Jaqueline Almdale
Subject: flights booked
Date: Wed 11/24/2010 4:52 AM (Tues 8:35 PM in Pullman)
Hi Peach,
    Got the pictures of the storm and all I can say is you keep it over there; England cannot handle it. We get a tiny bit of snow over here and everything comes to a halt. Flights to mail your discs now.
Love you lots and drive carefully in the snow.

From: Jaqueline Almdale
To: Les Biggs
Subject:RE: flights booked
Date: Wed 11/24/2010 1:19 PM (9:19 PM in England)
Hello Love,
     I am stuck home today working again as it dropped to -20 last night and my car is frozen solid like a block of meat. I have a magnetic block engine and oil pan heater plugged in and sitting on it now. Hopefully it will thaw before spring! I need to get to the store for groceries, and the bank, etc.
     I just checked prices to mail perishable to the UK with a three day delivery time and Wow! Is it expensive. $120.00 for a box of cookies and a cake. I am so bummed. I really wanted to send a holiday package of homemade treats for you, the kids and the grandkids. So I guess no goodies from me till February. Bummer. Maybe I can put a care package together of chocolate Kahlua Bundt cake, and Angel Bars and you could take them back with you on the plane.

From: Les Biggs
To: Jaqueline Almdale
Subject: Happy Thanksgiving
Date: Thu 11/25/2010 4:37 PM (8:37 AM in Pullman)
Hi there little miss glowing star,
     I wish you a happy Thanksgiving and take pleasure that you are with friends and not alone.
Thinking of what you said about sitting around the table and each person telling what they give thanks for has got me thinking and now l have made my mind up what i would say. I am sending it to you through cyberspace and perhaps you could speak at the table in my absence.
     I give thanks to my parents for bringing me up in a way that made me what i am today because without the manners they instilled in me i would not have politely answered all the e mails i get via my blog and therefore would not have met you and fallen so crazy in love with you. I know Mum & Dad`s input was just a foundation but from that good start i am what i am today so thanks to them.
     Enjoy your evening and l`ll speak to you real soon.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Love Changes Everything

     The daylight ebbed and the late autumn darkness greeted me at every turn. Dear Sir and I continued to email and call daily. We hungered for knowledge of each other, and with every conversation our feelings grew deeper...

From: Jaqueline Almdale
To: Les Biggs
Subject: Hope the repairs are going well
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 2010 7:38 AM (3:38 PM in England)
     This is just a quick note on my way to work, to let you know I’m thinking of you. I hope the boat repairs are going off without a hitch. 
     Jesse is bringing the boys down today at 4:30 pm and they are staying the weekend with me. I’ll return them to Fairfield on Sunday afternoon.
     Although yesterday was a national holiday (Veteran's Day) I worked for 6 hours to accrue a bit of comp time so I can leave an hour early today.
I miss you more than words can convey, and I love you with all my brim heart, 

     "I love you with all my brim heart..." this is a family saying originated by Jesseca, my favorite oldest daughter, when she was two years old. It was another dark, cold night very long ago. Freshly bathed and lotioned, Jesse was cuddling between me and her daddy on the couch as we watched TV.
     A commercial came on for Brim instant coffee, and the spokesman said to the lady pouring out coffee into his cup, "Fill it to the rim with Brim." 
     Jesse pulled at my shirt sleeve. Brown eyes filled with affection, she climbed to her knees and declared "Mama, I love you with all my brim heart." She placed her chubby little hands on each of my cheeks and pressed her nose to mine.
Jesse age 2, 1981
          It was one of those existential moments when time slows down to a crawl because something so incredible has occurred that one becomes hyper aware of every thing: the soft, sweet smell of my daughter's lotioned hands warm on each of my cheeks as she looked into my eyes with complete love and trust; the pounding of my heart bursting with amazement over Jesse's intelligence and ability to reach such a deeply insightful conclusion on her own in the brief time it took a commercial to air; gratitude welling up inside me that her soul chose me to be her mother; shock that my body produced such a wondrous human being. "I love you with all my brim heart" is an emphatic declaration from a heart completely filled to the very brim with love.

From: Les Biggs
To: Jaqueline Almdale
Subject: Hope the repairs are going well
Date: Fri 11/12/2010 9:22 PM (1:22 PM in Pullman)
Darling Jaq,
      Repairs completed at 3.30pm Friday and have now moved a short distance to Newbold.
      Wow! the boys for the w`end sounds great, wish i were there to join in the fun i know you`ll have.
      I will phone on Saturday but if you go out with the boys don't worry as you must make the most of their stay.
     Love you so much, miss you loads.

From: Jaqueline Almdale
To: Les Biggs
Subject: Hope the repairs are going well
Date: Sat 11/13/2010 3:49 AM (11:49 AM in England) 
Hello love,
     It is 3:42 am here. The boys are fast asleep and Wee Man woke me up so he could go hunting. Writing, as I think if it, is the stolen profession—one having to grab for bits and pieces of time in between the other stuff of life.
     I am relieved to hear the repairs to the boat are done and she’s in good stead now. 
     Wish you were here too with me and the boys. I think that often as I go throughout my every day… not that I do anything spectacularly fascinating. It’s just now whatever I do, I want to do it with you. And I wish I were also there with you, on the boat, in Newbold, rain or shine.
Missing you Les, and I love you too. 

     I immersed myself in time with my grandsons. It is such a privilege to have the love and trust of children. After a weekend spent making bread and snow ice cream, laughing and cuddling, watching movies and enjoying leisurely breakfasts of poached egg on toast with mugs of good British tea, reading Olivia, and How Olivia Saved the Circus, and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's Farm, I finally returned them to Fairfield. 
     After dinner with my family, I drove home through the cold, black night. A huge wind storm pushed the car all over the road. Wind raged at the doors and whistled at the windows as I lit the pellet stove and made a cup of brandied hot cocoa. Wee Man jumped to my shoulder as I turned on the desk lamp in my office and checked my emails.

From: Les Biggs
To: Jaqueline Almdale
Subject: Just in the Mood
Date: Sun 11/14/2010 6:11 PM (10:11 AM in Pullman)
Attachment: WAV file: Love Changes Everything
who loves you baby
     ??? Attached to this brief, cryptic email was a WAV file. Clicking on it opened Windows Media Player and music issued forth with a flourish of trumpets. A powerful tenor voice sang, "Love, love changes everything, hands and faces, earth and sky. Love, love changes everything; how you live and how you, can make the summer fly, or a night seem like a lifetime. Yes love, love change everything; how I tremble at your name. Nothing in the world will ever be the same..."

I emailed Les back with a WAV file of my own:
From: Jaqueline Almdale
To: Les Biggs
Subject: RE: Just in the Mood
Attachment: WAV file: Ocean Sized Love
Date: Mon 11/15/2010 12:57 AM (Tues 8:57 AM in England)
     Ahhh, who knew you could send real hugs and kisses via the Internet?? you did!

     While I was still reeling from the absolute beauty of Andrew Lloyd Webber's music, another email appeared in my inbox with another WAV file attached:
From: Les Biggs
To: Jaqueline Almdale
Subject: Still in the Mood
Attachment: WAV file: Have I Told You Lately
Date: Sun 11/14/2010 6:57 PM (10:57 AM in Pullman)
     It was Rod Stewart singing, "Have I told you lately that I love you. Have I told you that there is no one else above you. You fill my heart with gladness, take away all my sadness; ease my troubles that's what you do..."  

     Completely undone, I sobbed into my hands, wasting nearly a half box of Kleenex blowing my nose and wiping at my eyes. I have NEVER been courted like this, NEVER been made to feel so special--loved so much--before in my life--EVER. I have never been anyone's baby before. I responded immediately:
From: Jaqueline Almdale
To: Les Biggs
Subject: RE: Still in the Mood
Date: Mon 11/15/2010 12:57 AM (Tues 8:57 AM in England)
Attached: WAV file: Aretha Franklin

     Later in the week after our phone conversation was summarily cut off by a particularly brutal thunder and lightening storm over the Palouse, I emailed Dear Sir another WAV file:
From: Jaqueline Almdale
To: Les Biggs
Subject: Stormy weather
Date: Wed 11/17/2010 12:34 AM (8:34 AM in England)
Attached: WAVE file: Vanilla Twilight
My darling Les,
     As I sit here writing I am of course thinking of you. It was lovely to chat although briefly on the phone last night/this morning. The storm was really severe. As I rang off with you that last time, the phone made a weird buzzing sound and went totally dead. About 60 people a year in the U.S. are killed by lightening strikes and one of those deaths occurs while talking on a land line phone. When the next lightening strike occurred all the phones in the house rang twice and then fell silent and there was no service even this morning when I left for work. It’s back now.
     The electric/heat/water didn’t come back on until 7:45 a.m. My neighbor lost part of his roof and another neighbor lost the skirting on his mobile home. 
     Driving into town, I was stopped at the first stop light as a very tall spruce tree had broken off and fallen all the way across the intersection. I had to wait for forty minutes while a road crew sawed it up and hauled it away. 
     The same thing happened all over campus. My usual route to work was blocked off by a giant fir tree which was totally uprooted and fell over across B street, crushing several cars. There were crews all over town clearing roads, insurance folks out looking at structural damage to peoples’ homes from fallen trees.
     I had never heard the song “Love Changes Everything,” or Rod Stewart’s version of “Have I told You Lately that I Love you.” I sat here at my computer with tears running down my cheeks. My heart was so full—and still is. Have I told you lately how amazed I still am that you love me and how grateful I am at our incredible good fortune that we found each other?
     I am making arrangements to keep busy through the holidays; life seems brighter and dimmer sometimes when I am experiencing something—even little insignificant things, because my first thought is, “I wish Les and I were sharing this.” Truly, the last thought I have before I fall asleep is of you, and my very first conscious thought when I awake is too.
     I am almost finished with Post #4—folks at work were clamoring for another one today. I worked on it last night before I called you and I am going to finish up now and post it.
All my love,

From: Les Biggs
To: Jaqueline Almdale
Subject: Thinking of you
Date: Wed 11/17/2010 4:48 PM (8:48 AM in Pullman)
Attached: WAV file: For the First Time
 Hello my lovely,
     Just sorting some music for the next CD Video for you and come across this one attached. It could be me saying it about the Tues/Wed of my visit.
     I really liked that song you sent me last. It's just how I feel about missing you. 
     Storms look to have been bad, so glad you are OK. Will phone you your time around 7pm Wednesday.
Love and hugs

 From: Jaqueline Almdale
To: Les Biggs
Subject: RE: Still in the Mood
Date: Wed 11/17/2010 6:23 PM (Thurs 2:23 AM in England)
Attached: WAV file: The Very Thought of You
     Oh Les—how blessed I am in your love. Still, I must pinch myself sometimes to believe this is all real, and happening to me!
     I am home early because North West Energy Efficiency Corporation were here checking the heating & cooling duct system under the house and all the vents. For leaks. They just left.
     The song attached is from the CD It Had to Be You: American Songbook. This is how I feel every time I think of you. 
     Do you realize we are creating the soundtrack for the movie that will eventually be made from this blog?! (Meryl Streep will play me and Robson Green will play you!) I am writing it, and it is my story at the start—but I think of it as our story--and your comments add your unique signature to things and of course, add to our story.
I love you with all my brim heart,