Friday, February 27, 2015

"Colorado Babe"

I’m sitting in one of my favorite little coffee spots in downtown Denver, the Market on Larimer Square.  I’m just doing a little people watching and remembering all of the different people I’ve sat here with in all of the different phases of life.

Really, I’m thrilled just to be out of the house.  I’ve had the crud for the last two weeks. Solid.  I’ve been disgusting.  You know how it is, pink, drippy nose and low, almost-sexy-voice-but-not-really-who-am-I-kidding?, because of a deep cough.  And though my sleep numbers on my “misfit” (read that- poor man’s fitbit- it tracks sleep and number of steps) are AWESOME right now, my steps seem to be sadly lacking (yesterday was the first time I’d hit my goal in the whole of the last 14 days).  What I’m trying to say is, cabin fever had truly set in, so when I had the opportunity to join my Big Strong Man downtown while he went to a meeting, sit in a coffee shop and then join him for lunch, I jumped at it!

It’s been snowing for the last several days, it’s as though Denver finally remembered that it’s winter.  I’ve loved our weather this winter.  It’s been pretty mild, with lots of 60 and 70-degree days, and a few actual winter days sprinkled in, (you know, with snow and cold).  I love it when it gets cold; it gives me a chance to dress in what I call my “Colorado Babe get-up”.  I have Sorrell boots for the first time this year, and a Patagonia down sweater parka, a cute wool scarf and gloves that my sisters picked for me on a trip to New Zealand, and two super cute beanies that were literally custom made for me by a client.  What could be better?

It also gives me a chance to make lots of yummy soups.  In the last two weeks I’ve made a Potato Soup, a Beef Stew, Cajun Red Beans and Rice, and Homemade Chicken and Dumplings.  I’m cooking again, or maybe this is the first time in my life?  I don’t really remember, but the kitchen in the Pinkhouse is actually getting used and I’m not afraid of using Sawan’s kitchen stuff (that was a problem for awhile) and I’m really, really enjoying it.  I love how cozy my little house feels when I’ve had soup bubbling on the stove all day. 

Standing on the platform in 15 degree weather to ride the lightrail downtown.  Burr.
So overall, even though I’ve been slightly yucky feeling and gross, I’m loving life and I’m happy.  Just thought I’d check in and let you all know.

Monday, February 16, 2015


I wrote this last week and forgot to post....

This week, for the first time in my life, I shoplifted.  Yep.  I did.  It was premeditated.  I stole. 

I use Tide laundry detergent, and even though I’m a single woman, I buy the big ass container at Costco.  Somehow, I either lost the little plastic cup to measure the detergent, or never got one.  So when I was at Costco this week I went down that aisle just to steal a plastic cup.  I looked around to see if anyone was looking, and when no one was, I stuck the little cup in my purse.

Now, I’m the kind of person that if I realize that I didn’t pay for the soda on the bottom rack of my cart at Target, I go back in to pay for it.  I’m over-the-top honest about stuff like that.

But, for some reason, I’m annoyed at Tide or Costco that I haven’t been able to properly do laundry for the last several months, and so I feel that they owe me a plastic cup.  Plus, if I knew how to buy just the plastic cup then I would have done so already. 

So, laundry today felt like sweet success.  No more eyeballing it for me, I stole what I needed, and I didn’t get caught. I’m not feeling even the least bit guilty about it. 

It’s been a slow week around here, when all I have to tell you about is stealing a laundry measuring cup….

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

2014 in Six Words

I think I’ll take a quick minute to fill you in on what I’ve been up to for the last year or so.

2014 was a pretty great year. 

Winter highlights:

I got out of town twice.  The first trip was to Arizona to watch my dad participate in Colorado Rockies Fantasy Camp.  It’s always so much fun to watch him play baseball, to enjoy the awesome weather, and to meet some of the old players.  Would you guess that Ryan Spillbourghs, (read that, Noey’s pretend Rockies Boyfriend after Matt Holliday) is actually kind of shy? 

Ellie and I watching a game
Dad in catching the game

shade, a book and a dirty monkey=heaven
The second trip was Mexico, baby!  I try to go once a year, and it used to be a “Girls Trip” but this time my dad wanted to crash and so we decided to let him.  Even though I was 35 years old, he was still Protective Dad and didn’t want to let me run on the beach by myself (I was regretting deciding to let him join us on our trip) but, the compromise was that he would either workout in the workout room with me or go for a run on the beach with me, and that ended up being one of the biggest highlights of the vacation for me.  I wasn’t much of an athlete until about oh, four years ago (ok, still not an athlete, just pretend like I am with a 45 minute run 5 days a week), and he was not in the best of shape for most of my adult life, but started working out regularly about two years ago, so if you had told me five years ago that the highlight of my Mexico vacation would be working out with my dad, I think I would have fallen over laughing at how preposterous that was for both of us.


If I had any spare time in the spring or summer of 2014, it was either spent watching the Rockies lose, or in the yard at the Pinkhouse.
Rockies game with one of my favorite parts of 2014, my new friend Mary Kate.  She's ducking down in this photo.  In real life she's 6'1" of awesomeness.

Literally a $hit-ton.  Free compost.
Let’s talk about the part of that last sentence that’s more fun than sad.  I completely re-landscaped my front and back yards.  We’re talkin’, I completely tilled up all of the weeds and grass, laid sod and a sprinkler system, and xerescaped the front so that it’s now xeric flowering plants.  I did it all by myself.  Not really.  I had lots of help from my Mom, both in the design department and in practical help.  My brother pretty much did the sprinkler and sod, and then random friends (even my baby sister who never likes to help came more than one day and participated!) helped out both in practical ways (tilling, digging, laying out sod) and just in encouragement (stopping by with me filthy from head to toe and enjoying turkey burgers and beer post-workday).  It was such a huge project though, that it had already snowed once before I got the final tarp with the materials moved from the front of my house.  In my vanity I have to admit that my favorite part of the Pinkhouse’s makeover was the makeover to my bod- everyone was asking what I was doing to get the muscle tone in my arms.  I told them manual labor (hauling gravel around is heav-y!).

Before.  Weeds.
After.  Gabe watering the sod.


In September I half-ass quit smoking.  It was just time to say goodbye, I had decided.  But I kept smoking every four or five days.  You know, just for fun and to make myself completely crazy.  I quit for real in November (as in, I haven’t had a cigarette since November…*sigh*).  I miss it.  It was one of my favorite things, like one of my best friends.  It was surprisingly linked to comfort in grief.  I find that since I’m not taking that few minutes for myself, especially at the end of the day, I’m not talking to Sawan like I used to.  I miss that, too.  I would always talk to him with the last cigarette of the day.  But, I don’t know, maybe it was time to say goodbye to that as well.

Also in November, I met a man.  Well, I meet lots of men, but this seems remarkable because I found one that for now I want to spend quite a bit of quality time with.

And that pretty much hits the major points.  My year in a nutshell.  I could have done it in fewer words:  Mexico, Baseball, Yard, Quit Smoking, Dating. 

Ta-Da!  Not a bad list of words right there.

Now that I’ve caught you up on what’s been going on in my life in 6 words, I’m not really sure what I’m going to write about next….

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Good Grief (But can we ix-nay the WIDOW part?)

I know I left you guys a bit high and dry.

Here’s the thing.  Or maybe not the thing but part of the thing.  I’m doing really, really well.   I realized, about this time last year that I was no longer actively grieving.  When I wrote, especially for the book, it churned stuff up inside me and facilitated active grieving that I just didn’t feel was necessary at the time.  So I decided to take a break from writing the book.  I fully intended to keep writing the blog.  But, for some reason, the break ended up extending to the blog, too. 

I feel like even the title of my blog has widow in it, and I just no longer really identify myself as such.  Well, that’s not true.  I definitely still identify as a widow.  I still, five and a half years in, do not leave my house without waterproof mascara and packin’ a cute mini Kleenex pack.  When I hand one over to someone that I’m’ chatting with, and get teased for being a girl scout, I shrug and explain I’m not a girl scout, I’m a widow.  I will never not be a widow.  Widowness got in there and changed my DNA.  I don’t have the luxury of living the carefree life of not considering the “What ifs” because one of the craziest “What ifs” actually happened to me.  But, all that being said, it’s no longer at the forefront of my brain.  I don’t walk into a room and think that it’s the first thing that people should know about me.  I’m not only a widow.  I’m much, much more.

So now what do I do with the blog?  How do I write about musings now?  How do I include what’s going on in my life when most of what I’m processing is about people who are living?  I have to consider feelings being hurt and relationships and crap like that.  It’s complicated.  It was simpler when the object of most of my writing was dead.

But I feel like writing was really good for me.  And, when I started this whole thing, the point of it for me was to help other widows.  To help them by showing them my grief journey, and I feel like it might be helpful to them to know that for me there was real life to be lived and enjoyed again eventually.  Eventually I got to quit actively grieving!

I remember in my first few months as a widow, I would be finally getting out of the house and my mom would tell me, “Have fun.”  And I would tell her, “I don’t have fun.”  I knew that I was a drag to be around and that I was literally incapable at the time of having fun.  But that changed.  Now, I have fun.  I also remember meeting new people and thinking, “I wish they could have met me before.  I was funny.”  But, I’m funny again.  I think people like to be around me.  Life returned to a new normal.  It took a long, long time, but it happened.  I want new widows to know that.

So, if you’re still around and you want to join me as I figure out how to write Good Grief about a young widow (that doesn’t feel that young anymore, holy cow, I just turned 36!) who doesn’t identify so much as a widow anymore, than I’d love to have you!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Missed Opportunity

You know those “Ferrari” style soda machines that are popping up at the casual dining restaurants these days?  I love them.  You hit a button, and can choose a million different soda options.  They almost always have Coke Zero, my favorite, and I do a “suicide” combination with mostly plain coke zero, but add a little of the flavored ones, like vanilla coke zero, as well (sometimes raspberry, too, if I’m feeling frisky).

Yesterday, I went to Noodles and Company with a girlfriend for lunch, and had already filled my soda from the Ferrari machine and was fitting it with a lid and straw while the handsome man in line after me took his turn at the soda machine.  He stared at the options for a long time.  I gave him a sideways glance, and said, “So. many. choices.”

He said, “I know.  It’s like online dating.” 

I giggled.  And clammed up.  That’s all there is to this story.

I tell you that because I think that I have a reputation for a quick wit and always knowing what to say in these situations.  I didn’t.  He was totally flirting with me, but all I did was put my lid on and went back to my table.  Sometimes I don’t have the right thing to say.  And he was so cute.  Dangit.

Friday, February 21, 2014

My Poor Neglected Little Blog...

Ah, my poor neglected little blog.

I spent my whole month of January doing another major renovation at the Pink House.  It was only slightly dramatic, because how could it be my life if it wasn’t dramatic?

The project was simple enough, but as with anything I do, it snowballed.  In my house that was built in 1900, I have plaster walls.  There were a few holes in the plaster in the stairwell.  But the stairwell and the upstairs hall are connected, and between those walls and ceilings I had at least five different mismatched textures.  So, as long as I was having the plaster repaired, I might as well have the texture smoothed out as well.  And as long as we were doing it in the entryway and stairwell, I might as well do it on the whole downstairs level, since those were a mess, too.  And as long as we were doing the walls, I might as well have them scrape the popcorn ceilings and smooth that, too, right?  (Whoever decided to put popcorn ceilings in a Victorian 1900 house should be horsewhipped, but I’m sure their 1980’s brains were thinking, “Oh, our house looks so modern now!”)  And then I had someone working in my house for the entire month of January.

I had a 24 hour period where, in true Noel-the-Drama-Queen fashion, I was sure that I had exposed myself, my dog, the guy working, and anyone who would ever come to my house in the future to asbestos and we were all going to die.  I made a late-night phone call to a friend of a friend who owns an asbestos abatement company.  He totally talked me out of a tree and sent his guys over to test first thing the next morning and when he called me with the good news that my house was free of asbestos, he teased by telling me, “Good news.  You’re gonna live.”

The great thing about the guy that I had do the work on the walls is that he would let me work with him, which saved me some coin, plus I learned a lot, but it kept me super busy.  I cleaned up plaster dust, I painted, I cleaned, I painted, I cleaned up plaster dust, I shopped for light fixtures, I cleaned up plaster dust, and then I cleaned up plaster dust some more.  And now I’m done with projects for a very long time.

Thanks for not giving up on me.  I neglected all writing for the last two months, so it feels good to flex that muscle!  Love to all of you!
A quick shot of my smooth living room walls and ceiling.  I haven't put any art back up yet, I'm just enjoying the smoothness!  Plus, isn't my gray just lovely?

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Wow, here we are at the end of another year. 

2013 was a year full of the duality that makes widowhood such an adventure.  It was full of a growing sense of contentment, and a serious sense of loneliness and longing.  As we pull it all to a close, I can’t say that I’m sad to see it go, but mostly it’s because I’m looking forward with hope to what’s next.

As I look back over the year, some really cool stuff happened.

I got a brand new car.  I’ve never done that before.

I took my first college course (Creative Non-fiction).  I got an A.  It was so much fun, and I think that even though it didn’t help me generate much material for my book, like I was hoping, it helped me to be a better writer, so it was definitely not a waste of time.  I loved it.

I did a major home improvement project and I lived to tell about it.  I love my new bathroom and finally got moved in to the “new” master bedroom!  My brother and dad helped me build a closet and it’s pretty amazing!  I’m getting ready to start a new project, wow, am I a glutton for punishment or what?

You know my furniture-painting obsession?  I refinished eight pieces of furniture this year.   Here’s the really cool, easy to miss, widowhood bravery piece of that story: I live alone.  Furniture is heavy.  I work out every day to make it possible to carry that stuff all by myself, and I have the strength to do it. 

This year, for the first time, I got out my old Christmas stuff.  This felt like a huge accomplishment.  The last time it was put in those boxes, Sawan and I put it in there together, and I just couldn’t bear to unwrap the stuff.  But, I felt ready this year.  I felt ready to greet my old things and face that sadness.  I had a friend come over to help, and I was surprised by how it made me feel.  I was prepared to sort things into a box of “things I’m not ready to get rid of but don’t want to see again for a long time” and instead, I hung those ornaments (like our “Just Married”) on my tree.  Sometimes I shock even myself.

The biggest changes of the year are the subtle ones that are hard to quantify.  At some point, I think that I really started to choose life this year.  At some point, the memories of Sawan became something that I enjoyed again.  It was no longer too painful to remember even the sweetness of him.  Now I can enjoy the sweetness, and the enjoyment, even though it carries the sting of his absence, is worth it.  The sadness that I feel now is the sadness of missing him, the loss of what we had and the loss of all of my dreams for our future, but it also carries with it a sense of longing for what’s to come.

And so, I say, bring it 2014.  I’m ready.

Love to all of you, thank you for reading my words, for being with me for another year.  I wish you all the best in the New Year!