Sunday, May 15, 2011

February Cometh At Last!

 Grow old with me!  The best is yet to be.  ~Robert Browning
     February third finally arrived! Les called me at one a.m. his time, waiting in the chilled dark of his daughter in law's home for a cab to arrive to whisk him off to Heathrow Airport.
     "I cannot wait to hold you in my arms." Dear Sir's voice was low and husky with emotion, tinged with tiredness at waiting--for the cab and for three and half months to pass so we could be together.
     "Oh Les--I cannot wait to be in your arms."
     Twelve hours later at Pullman's tiny regional airport I watched Dear Sir's plane land and waited excitedly for him to walk off the aircraft. 
     Suddenly there he was--carry-on in hand. We slid into each other's arms and kissed gently, softly, holding on to each other tightly. I inhaled Les' scent and smiled with joy; to me he smells of home and love and heart's desire. People moved past and around us, seeking the baggage claim counter.
     We loaded Les' luggage into the trunk and headed to Dissmores for a latte and a caramel machiatto. The weather shaped up to mild winter sunshine--no snow--just for his arrival. He always seemed to bring fine weather with him!
   At home Dear Sir unpacked his cases on the bed with the periwinkle sheets. I'd cleared out a shelf for his clothes in the walk-in closet and hung extra hangars on the left side for him. 
     Les pulled a small blue box out of his luggage and handed it to me. The box was embossed with a dragonfly! I love dragonflies. I've collected them for more than twenty years. Inside was a lovely silver heart shaped locket with a gold dragonfly mounted over the front. 
     The back of the heart was engraved with three words: strength, courage & happiness. Dear Sir had been window shopping at a local cancer charity and the locket caught his eye. He slipped it on me and hooked the clasp in place, kissing me gently on the back of my neck. 
     We talked about this and that and I started fixing dinner--I don't even remember what we ate! I only remember how euphorically happy I was to watch Les settle in as though it were our home; to feel his presence expand to fill the empty spaces created when he left last October.  
     A pastel frosted dusk fell over the palouse crisping the air outside. Dear Sir sat watching me move about the house. I lit the pellet stove; as I rose up from the hearth, he took my hand and walked me to the bedroom. Cupping my face in his hands, Les kissed me long and deep, sweet and gentle....three days later we decided to venture out to face the world.
     In the interim we laughed and talked, slept, showered, drank tea and ate biscuits, and etc. etc. etc! The second night as we lay in each other's arms Les asked me to marry him. I said yes, and we fell asleep snuggled into each other like spoons, his strong arm wrapped around me just below my heart, which overflowed with joy.
     We visited several jewelry stores in Pullman and Moscow, looking for rings. I tried on traditional diamond engagements sets and if I had wanted one, Les would have given it to me. They had the lure of status but in the end they weren't me. 
     "That is the kind of bling Cinderella wears. I am more Cinder the ash girl. I would never be comfortable with that much bling on my hand. I want a ring that doesn't stick up so it won't get caught in the boat ropes."
Home Depot © LBiggs, 2010
     We visited a Home Depot store so Les could compare it with a British B & Q outlet, and went to the Movie theater to see a Jason Statham film, holding hands like young kids in love. 
     Les spent a day hanging out with my friend Jerry Curtis, who was recuperating from a double hip replacement surgery. Jerry's wife works with me at WSU and is my heart sister. 
     We arrived home in the evening to find the men making bets on how long it would take us to beat a path to the door! Dinner was Cheri's world class meat loaf stuffed with mushrooms and cheese, and mashed potatoes loaded with sour cream, cream cheese, and butter. Mmmmm!
     Cheri watched me closely throughout the evening. She was looking for signs that I had altered my conduct for Les' benefit. She watched intently so see if I behaved differently with Les around...if I constrained myself in any way, censored my talk. To her relief I was my usual self and Cheri knew then that Les and I were meant to be together because I could be myself in his presence and he loved and accepted me as I was.
     Days spun by all too quickly. We headed into Spokane to dine with the Wednesday Women. And who are they, you might well ask?
     In the fall of nineteen ninety five the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane offered a thirteen week course called "Rise Up and Call Her Name: Dark Goddesses of the Mediterranean, Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
     The course brought together a distinctive group of women. Some were new to the idea of a female God. Others were practicing witches, and all were feminists to the core; every one of us hungry to learn more about the power of the sacred feminine as an ideology which reflected women and God as female, powerful, and sacred--the beliefs of a world before it was overwhelmed by patriarchy. At the end of the course a core group of women wanted to stay connected to one another.
     Kialynn is a divorced mother of four who raised her family while putting herself through university to earn an advanced degree in Mathematics. She teaches at the local community college. Children grown now, Kialynn travels throughout the summer and is involved in a long term relationship with a gentleman who lives in an earth sheltered home. 
     A fabulous cook, She has a wonderful soaring laugh, a thoughtfully precise way of speaking, and a bullshit detecter that rivals anything Homeland Security could devise. A long, unhappy marriage and years of hard work to gain her independence meant Kialynn would love again--but she chose to live in her own home and maintain her own life.
     Lisa was married to an Economics professor with two young daughters when our group coalesced. A sweet, quiet soul, the WW helped her to uncover and revel in her talents: artist, writer, poet, teacher; Lisa is a licensed poetry therapist who teaches writing at Spokane Falls Community College. She is a featured poet in the Anthology Poetry Diner and her papier mache pieces are displayed in regional galleries.
     Eventually Lisa too left an unhappy marriage, regained her independence, and fell in love again with a deep hearted man who appreciates her wry sense of humor, her quietly thoughtful way of delving into a subject and challenging others about ideas, and the grace of her amazing love. Lisa has two daughters who have grown into exceptional women--like their mother.
    Rhea is an artist and peacemaker. Married for twenty six years to Jim--a sweet, funny, delicious man who moves through the world in disguise by day as a federal letter carrier, Rhea traveled to countries around the world with American teenagers to visit places in conflict with the U.S. She hoped to foment peace by bringing children from both sides together to share stories, experiences, and realize their common humanity. 
     Rhea's artistic medium is papier mache, and her story bowls sell for high commissions. Having branched out to other ideas, her home is a bright, lively place filled with cats, color, and a workshop with pieces in various phases of completion. Her work is shown in galleries across the Pacific Northwest. 
     Gina is the epitome of every small child's dream of a real fairy godmother. Soft spoken, gentle spirited, Gina is gifted with vision that allows her to view and understand the unseen wonders in the world and the human heart. 
     Mother and grandmother, she is married to a handsome hippy-turned-federal letter carrier; her husband Steve is gentle and kind with a rowdy sweetness to his soul that allows him to seek joy from life like a bear seeking honey.
     One of the most memorable Wiccan rituals I've ever participated in took place at their home in the woods of North Idaho. After an intense ritual experience, fabulous feast, and drumming around the bonfire, the assembled forty sang us witches home to the tune of "good night ladies."
     Retired now from the Federal Post office, Gina has begun to live a fully fruitful second stage of life; she just finished her college degree and is learning to be a professional chef. 
     Rosemarie is a tiny slip of a woman made of fine steel wire and Yankee determination. Red headed, with a fiery spirit, she is a nurse anesthetist, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and the mother of two gown children. Rosemarie's laughter is rich, nuanced, and laced with sensuality. She patented the call-it-as-I-see-it attitude. Hers' is a passionate, no holes barred, take no prisoners outlook on life. Rosemarie traveled all over the U.S. and the world connecting to good friends from her Air Force days and leaving a trail of broken hearts along the way.
     She volunteered her time to travel to third world countries with other Spokane medical professionals setting up hospitals and clinics providing free health care to people in dire need. 
     Now that Rosemarie is retired from the military and medicine she nurtures plants, homeless teenagers, and orphaned kittens. She rescues homeless mothers and their children, providing a space for them in her basement efficiency apartment to get on their feet and find their way back into the world. 
     Rosemarie jokes about her plain, black eye glass frames offered by the military base optometrist calling them her "birth control" glasses.
     Adelina is one of my oldest friends. We met at University--both of us single mothers and older returning students with hungry minds. One of nine children, she was the oldest girl upon whom too much responsibility was thrust too young. Adelina rebelled against the gender constraints forced upon her by her family, seeking an education and life experiences that carried her into the broader world filled with travel.
     Married and divorced, she raised four children while earning a business degree from Eastern Washington University. Adelina was elected the University student body president and was the first single parent, female, and Latina president in the school's one hundred and twenty four year history.
     She works for an international union organizing medical workers and fighting for the rights of working people. She embodies the saying by Delia Shapon-Devin: "Your heart is an organ the size of your fist. Keep loving, keep fighting.
     Adelina is a priestess of the Goddess with many arcane gifts, and a rich, round laugh that wraps around a person like a hug on a cold day. She left the group when she moved away and has recently returned.
Marian courtesy NW History and Art Museum
     Marian is our matriarch. Divorced as well after many years as a farmer's wife, Marian has always been an advocate for women's rights. She is a long standing member of the League of Women Voters, fought for the Equal Rights Amendment, and began the first feminist bookstore in Eastern Washington. 
     Marian is also a member of the Spokane Museum of Arts and Cultures and has worked on many of their exhibits over the years, finding herself honored recently in an exhibition titled "Women's Votes, Women's Voices: Washington Women's Suffrage Centennial Exhibit." Amazingly energetic, she traveled to China in her 80's!
     Together we became the Wednesday Women. Each Wednesday we took turns hosting dinner at our homes for the other women who showed up at six and left by eight.
     Every Wednesday I knew as did we all, that I had a standing dinner reservation in the company of people who loved me, accepted me, and cherished my friendship and contributions. No matter how bad my day went I knew there was always a place at the table for me in the presence of love. 
     We did not miss a Wednesday for five years
     We leaned on one another and supported each other though poverty, single parenthood, divorces, marriages, ill children, jobs lost and gained, degrees earned, deaths, births, witch camp, travels to far flung locales, love affairs begun and ended, graduations, illness, retirement and amazing personal growth. 
     I received more intellectual stimulation from one evening with the Wednesday Women than I have had in a decade of living in a college town and working for the University. These women are shakers and movers. They are my sisters and my collective heart; and I had to gain permission from all of them to bring a man to dinner!
     Not intimidated in the least by their intellect and sass, Les held his own with wit and keen observation. Marian knocked his socks off. At eighty nine years of age she can match wits with anyone and carry on a conversation that leaves many reeling in surprise.
     Marian took to Les right off and the feeling was mutual. She is generally the hard nut to crack but Les gathered her in with his genuine charm.  
     The WW had concerns for my well being: did Dear Sir bring to the table more than what I had in hand? After all I can afford to eat at McDonald's on my own. The answer was yes. 
     Was he accepting of me as a person in my own right and willing to allow me personal, intellectual, and religious freedom? Unequivocally yes.
     And did he please me in our personal relationship? Absolutely!! Dear Sir is an affectionate, talented, generous lover on every level. We both delight in one another's presence.
     Did he appreciate my talents and abilities and offer to nurture them? 
     Alice Walker once said, "The nature of this flower is to bloom." Flowers bloom best when tended by appreciative, attentive gardeners. With Les' loving care a deep core of living green came to life inside me. He is my muse and my patron.
The Monroe St. bridge  on the Spokane River © Lbiggs

Starting off early on Thursday morning, we had our usual Irish cream latte and a caramel Machiatto. We walked all over Spokane's Riverfront district and I shared my favorite places with Les: my old haunts and homes where I used to live.
     In the Flour Mill I took him to Wonders of the World and we found our engagement rings. While I was looking at Claddagh rings Les spotted a band with four green stones mounted in silver with ten tiny diamonds. The green gems are Alexandrite--a very rare Russian stone which changes its color under bright incandescent light and flashes purple.     
     The meaning of Alexandrite is joy! The ring fit my nature and taste perfectly but it was a size too small for my finger.
Our rings © LBiggs, 2010
     Les found a silver band with a Celtic endless lover's knot carved out of it. Across the hall was a jeweler who offered to size my ring and engrave Les' band while we had a cup of coffee. All he wanted in return was a twenty pound note. He collected monies from all over the world but had no British currency. 
    Dear Sir handed him a crisp new note and the deal was struck. Thirty minutes later my ring fit my finger and Les' was engraved with the words, "You are my joy." We drove home tired and happy, filled with the rich broth of good memories.
     Many years ago Les had given Val a weekend to do whatever she wanted. She asked him to spend it with her doing a bit of shopping and taking in the movie Evita. 
     Les agreed because he loved Val, it was her weekend and that is what she wanted to do. He didn't expect to enjoy the movie. They were both enthralled by it and that weekend was one of his favorite memories.
    Dear Sir wondered if I had ever seen the movie. I had not so we rented the DVD and watched it curled around each other on the couch. I deeply appreciated sharing in that sweet memory with Les. 
     Back in December Les made me promise to make reservations for dinner at Swilly's on Valentine's Day.
     I arrived home from work on February 14th to find a dark blue Swarovski jewelry bag on the kitchen counter along with a card--my very first Valentine's day card from a man!
One of "those" oblong boxes!
     Inside the bag was a long slender midnight blue box and inside the box was a gorgeous silver and crystal bracelet with links shaped like waves! It was a delicate, shimmering, artistically beautiful piece created with much thought and care and chosen with the same attention to detail. 
     Les knew me well and he knew what I liked: silver jewelry and simple, small pieces--nothing large or flashy. In one week's time I had received more bling from Dear Sir than I had ever been given in my entire life.
Valetnine's Day bracelet from Les
     We drove to dinner through the snow spangled night, under a dark blue sky the color of a Swarovski jewelry box, stars twinkling overhead like crystals. 
     At Swill's we ordered New York steaks with a Port wine reduction sauce, mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, Haricot verts in a butter glaze, baby salad greens with the house dressing and Sparkling Shiraz. 
     Les and I toasted each other and spent two hours eating, talking, and gazing into each other's eyes. I raised my glass to Val and Dear Sir quietly thanked me for that. I felt her there with us in the joy of that moment so it only seemed right. 
     After a dessert of Molten chocolate cake and coffee we bundled up, headed home and sank into bed under the warmth of the goose down comforter, wrapped in the bliss of each other's arms.
     Dear Sir and I moved through our daily routine together now: biscuits and tea first thing in the morning with lots of conversation and laughter; a hot shower, and me off to work and home again at night to be greeted by Les with something new to show me or tell me about his day. 
     Les built a brick path in the garden. He did dishes, laundry, and cleaned house without being asked and without my expecting it.
     "I even oovered."
     "You what?"
     "Oovered--you know--did the oovering."
     "I'm sorry darling but I don't know what that is. Say again???" (To me it sounded like he was saying Oeuf as in the French word for eggs. I was hard pressed to connect eggs with housekeeping!)
     "You know with the vaccum--I done the vacumming."
     "OHH! Hoovering. We don't call it hoovering over here; call it that and Yanks will think you mean 'hovering'."
     "Huv-a- ring--what's that then?"
     "You know--when you hang about over someone."
     "OHH! You mean haahvering." We laughed ourselves silly at our cultural differences and it was pointedly brought home to me that I am the one with the accent.
     The last week of Les' visit also brought snow--and lots of it. With the snow came Sparky to meet "the man who would take her mum away to England." 
     She had been having difficulties with her personal life and she needed to come home and immerse herself in mother love and ritual. Spark was reluctant to meet Les. She wanted me all to herself and she most certainly didn't want to like the bastard who was stealing her mother. 
     Les was sensitive to Sparky's feelings while being true to himself. I had to work each day which gave them two and a half days in which bonding might--or might not occur. 
     Dear Sir won Spark over with his easy going personality and frank thoughtfulness--they are alike in that way; but even more importantly Les won Spark's acceptance because of the way he treated me. 
  He was no different in her presence than when it was just the two of us; Les was loving, considerate, and affectionate. His eyes were filled with appreciation and desire whenever  he looked at me.
     Spark noted it.
"I've never seen you this happy Mama. You obviously love each other and you are good together. You make each other happy, and that's a rare thing." Les in turn thought Spark was wonderful--an apple that didn't fall too far from the tree!
The lane in front of Cloudhouse
     Our three weeks were gone, slipped away as quickly as grains of sand in an hour glass. As if in answer to the sadness in my soul at his leaving, the skies opened up and dumped a load of snow which had us driving from Pullman to Lewiston to Spokane, covering nearly two thirds the length of Washington State in less than twenty four hours in order to get Dear Sir on a plane back to England.
     Before we parted we finalized plans for my trip abroad in May and our wedding in June. We had to be apart one more time. When we met again, it would be on his turf.


  1. Hi Peach
    not that i`m counting but it`s just 6 days till you fly into my arms forever. Just glad it`s now May and not still February.XXXXXX

  2. Your arms forever! Heaven--it exists for me on earth in your arms--forever.

  3. Awww shucks you two......I have been bitten by that pesky love bug too now, I am happier than I ever thought I would be again, how lucky are we?
    Only a few more sleeps Jaqueline and you will be in, "Dear Sir's" arms where you rightly belong.

    Debbie x

  4. Oh Debbie that is such wonderful news! I wish you every happiness. Was it your sweet bike that brought his eye to you--or that sassy pink wheel barrow!

    As they said in the movie Steel Magnolia's "It is our ability to acessorize that separates us from the lower animals!" ;)
    Big hugs!

  5. Wow, another great read with such perfectly chosen words...there must be a book in your soul somewhere?

    I like nice people and I like it when nice things happen to nice people. I hope to meet you and your soon to be husband on the canal at some point. I think it was on the Shroppie when I last hailed Les, I recall he commented he had been having a bad time, we should all take something from your story... life can be difficult but when it's good draw it in, savor it, and bathe in the pleasure...

    Take care

    Nev (NB Wasterlily)

  6. Thank you Jaqueline! It was actually the new man in my life that bought me the, "sassy" pink wheel barrow!! He too is a boater who has been a good friend for a few years, we are now an item and it's lovely! We had a good foundation to build our relationship on as we started out as friends, a bit like you and Les really! So onwards and upwards. Wishing you a safe journey to our wonderful waterways, I can't wait to hear what you think of it all, have fun!

    Debbie x

  7. Hi Nev,
    I hope there is a book in all this and it's very kind of you to say so. I;m looking forward to the day we see NB Waterlily coming our way on the cut! Cultivate Joy!