Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Days in the Sun

"Days in the Sun will return
We must believe as lovers do
that days in the sun
will come shining through...."

My mom passed away unexpectedly five months ago.  She didn't suffer from what I could tell and for that I feel a subtle peace.  Many have said, with consoling words, it was good that way.  I have seen friends who have struggled as their loved ones have passed away slowly and it is a lingering pain for all.  I am glad we did not go through that.  And yet for us there has been the lingering slow denouement of her life.  The final scene is next week when we close on her house.  There is a paradox of relief balanced with the sadness that this is a part of our life that is now concluding.

Preparing for this has been the main aspect of my life these past five months.  I've not seen much of the gym or Sandee; certainly no Ashley Madison (probably a good thing) and very little time to blog.  Rather, each day the words of that song chime in my head as I remember the peace that her home has given me over the past several years.  I move a sleeper sofa and I remember the night we were snowed in and I watched Ella Enchanted with my girls and ate popcorn in front of the TV on that very spot.  I move the grill and remember all the peaceful Sunday afternoons I spent cooking out, sipping on a Yingling, and keeping track of the NASCAR race or perhaps the Redskin's game just inside.

The last five months have had stressful hurdles to move past, the neighborhood memorial where our local friends stopped by to tell us how much they enjoyed her as a neighbor.  It was tough getting the house ready for guests in addition to our own life close by.  We prepared her shrimp creole and in the end had a wonderful time, surprised at how much impact she had had on this community though she only lived her this last decade.  Then there was the memorial back home to plan.  I drove down two days ahead and completed final arrangements.  Again, stress then alleviated by the joy of seeing so many friends.  As we moved past winter the house had to be made ready for sale.  Much cleaning and organizing, a yard sale, moving treasured family items to others and to our home.  Then finding an agent and arriving on price and ultimately negotiating with potential buyers.

Through it all she has seemed alive and certainly a presence in our life.  At first it was the cats who had to be fed and taken care of daily; mail that needed to be gathered.  Often it was the flour we didn't need to buy because she had a bag at her house; oh, we don't need to buy Windex she has plenty.  The neighbor needs sheets for their daughter going to college, she has an extra set we can give them.  The tasks so mundane and yet pleasant that her house and yes she was still in our life in some small way.

When her older cat died it was sad but a relief.  The cat who she fed and then took into her home was very happy every time we came down to visit.  He slowly latched onto my daughter and then one day we were able to get him to our house.  Though we already knew him he is now becoming part of our home.

Her best friend came up to pick up some furniture for her son.  We decided to have a final cookout and dinner at her house.  I remembered during the meal to look around the table and take a mental picture for my mind's photo album.  There was happiness and joy around the table and it was good to savior that last hospitable moment in the house.

I moved much of the last furniture a few days ago.  Funny, it reconnected me with Alecia.  One of the families she helps is moving to a new place and has nothing.  I took over two rooms worth of furniture and a kitchen worth of supplies.  It feels good that a new family will sit on that couch in front of that TV and sleep on that bed and keep their clothes in that dresser.

But as I continue to hear that song I realize the melancholy lyrics and chords amplify the loss I feel of her and in the life that is moving on for all of us, the life that my daughters led partially growing up in that house, the meals we had on those Sunday afternoon and holidays, the peaceful times watching Big State U on that big HD TV.  I miss her and I am anxious at how this event has so clearly defined the line of demarcation to this next phase of our life.  I can't believe both of my daughters will be in high school next year and that we are starting to plan for college.  These are exciting times but also pensive and certainly leave me longing (as the song lyrics say) for easier days gone by.  I can't help feel the lifeline of my family's childhood slowly fading as we clear out the final belongings.

I guess in the end, beyond the pictures and the quilts her lingering presence will be a happy cat purring on a bench in front of the upstairs window.  I think she would be happy with that.

"I can't go back into my childhood, one that my (mother) made secure.  I can feel a change in me.  I'm stronger now, but still not free....."

Friday, April 28, 2017

Esto Hay Que Tomarlo Sin Ningun Apuro

Varios Pensamientos, Despacito

Despacito is a beautiful Latin song that has achieved swift worldwide fame thus far in 2017.  It is delicately and deliciously sexual and speaks of that unwavering gravity one feels when you find someone who draws you in passionately.  It reminds me of how I've felt several times in and around Ashley Madison.  Though it has been a hot single for some months in Latin countries it is just now getting major airplay in mainstream US markets.  We were just in Miami and we heard the song, the fam reminded ourselves that they heard this song when it was first out the last time we were in Miami.

It's funny how towns come in and out of your life as do people.  Miami is a town I had just driven through through the first 45 years of my life but over the past three years it has come to be our go to destination for a variety of reasons.  Places like Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans have come and gone through my life but now Miami is where we go for the peace of mind that comes from a Puerto Sagua Cuban dish or a slow walk and people watching adventure along Lincoln Road.  I love the warmth of the area and the exquisite blend of cultures.  And OMG the Latin women, do they ever age?!

But I do think of the people and events of my life over the past seven years, was it really spring of 2010 that I signed up for Ashley Madison.  The interesting people that have flowed through my life, it's fun to remember.

Alecia was the first woman I met on Ashley Madison.  We had sex, fantastic sex!  She orgasm-ed multiple times and then I think it went on too long.  I was so nervous that at the point of ecstasy I actually could not finish as it were.  I guess the nervous got me up but couldn't take me back down.  Alecia seemed offended that I did not orgasm.  It caused some conflict.  After two such meetings she vanished and then returned a few years later.  We still talk.  She has a daughter in college and she sometimes asks for advice or simply vents about worries.  I've helped her in her work a few times.  I'm glad we are still in touch.

Sandra was such a joy to meet and to know.  She made me feel so good about myself.  The sex was great!  The other funny thing I remember is how tall she was.  I've always dated the petite girl, usually around maybe 5'4" to 5'6."  Sandra is every bit of 5'10" and was usually in heels, the only time I've ever been out with a women that is taller than me (I'm 6' even).  One thing I love is to get into the shower after sex, Sandra was always happy to oblige.  One time after being in the shower for some time we were ready for more sex.  We stepped out of the shower and I was now behind her in front of the mirror.  I reached around her and pressed my finger into her.  She sighed and instinctively bent forward.  I then moved my dick between her legs to *uck her from behind and in front of the mirror.  It was going to be great.  But then reality set in, her female hips set high on her 5'10" were a considerable strain to penetrate with my male hips on my 6' frame.  On tippy toes I plunged into her.  For a time it was fun but then we laughed and retreated back to the bed to finish.  Thankfully she was the type to laugh with you!

Keeley was a really interesting person, perhaps the most interesting and intriguing for several reasons.  I enjoyed meeting her but that experience taught me that sometimes life just gets in the way and that one way to make sure life doesn't get in the way is to not overdo it.  I think I lost myself in that point but if you read my Keeley stories maybe you'll get it.  I think the main thing on AM is to take it one lady (or gent) at a time.  Volume causes complexity issues that make the whole thing un-fun and fun is why we are doing it in the first place, right!  I think I get it now.

Sandee, wow so many memories and such a lovely person.  I'll always remember the great plunge I took into the Potomac River!  How did she ever tolerate my goofy-ness!  How did any of them.  But God Bless them for doing so, it's been a fun ride!

So I've been on Ash Mad for 7 years, blogged about it for 6+.  This will be my 482 post.  I've almost gotten to 400,000 hits.  There was a time where I averaged over 5,000/month of real hits (not bots).  I've gotten to know a lot of other bloggers and readers as well.  It's been fun, really fun!  But I'm not sure how much more I have to say.  I'd like to get to 500 posts and at my current slow pace it will take me another year.  Given that, I hope to write my last intentional post one year from now.  Beyond that, who knows.  I still get the itch from time to time but for me I have to define boundaries.  I've never gone a month NOT  blogging (at least once) and will continue that until I get to 500 (aspirationally, but then we live in the era of Trump so what do boast mean now anyway).  After that I can excuse myself and move on.

I know I've got 20 credits on my Ash Mad account so I'm already thinking about my last letter post.  I wonder which unlucky lady will get that message!

Shannon and I talk of moving to Florida.  Maybe I can retire and open a Cuban restaurant somewhere and run off with a Latina hotty!  :)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Whatever Gets You through the Night

"Whatever gets you through the night" was a John Lennon #1 US single released in 1974, at the time his first as a solo artist.  It's a very snappy happy song with a talk show theme melody and very deep sounding lyrics and yet it really was just Lennon's ode to late night TV and something a tel-evangelist said as Lennon channel surfed through one particular night.  I always find the back story so intriguing, particularly when it's so subtle next to the much more assumed substance.

You know Ashley Madison is kind of like channel surfing to us aimless, fidgety, and restless souls in unresolved circumstances.  And Ashley Madison has certainly gotten me through many nights.

So, "trust me, darlin', come on, listen to me, come on...."

This blog has really been a way for me to express my experiences through musical lyrics.  Mostly the stories drove the narrative and the music illuminated itself to me.  Sometimes I have remembered lyrics that I knew I needed to find a story to match.  On a few occasions that song so intimately married to the story that it truly affected me and created a new relationship for me with that song.

So what follows is not necessarily the posts I feel are the best or even the songs I love best but these are the posts whose song lyrics melted together with the story for me and now have left an indelible mark on my psyche.

1.     Alone Again Or - the Damned:

On two occasions I have written posts on five consecutive days.  This was one of those times.  This was a tantalizingly frustrating tale of my first "non-meeting" with Sandee, the women who would eventually be my penultimate Ashley Madison lady.  Thankfully, four years later, she is still my dear friend.  As I contemplated writing these posts I heard the song Alone Again Or on Richard Blade's First Wave show and knew it was right for the story.  As always I became more intrigued by the song the more I read.  I also found out that there is an even better version by Calexico!  A funny thing, some time later I was playing putt putt with the fam and heard Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kije Suite which was supposedly an influence for the melody written for Alone Again Or.  Shannon was taken by the melody and said "I like that music."  In response, I blurted out "oh that's Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kije Suite."  Shannon was a little startled as I generally only know things about Lynyrd Skynyrd in her mind.  Oh well, that's the problem when you try to be all intellectual in the wrong moment.

Anyway, here are the other parts of the story:

        part II
        part III
        part IV
        part V

2.     I Hate These Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke

But even though I said this was not really a "best of" post I do believe this is one of the best post I ever wrote.  I think this comes the closest to what one truly feels when you are in an illicit affair amid an unhappy marriage that one feels compelled to hold onto due to social graces.  I remember writing a guest post for another blog and that blogger, who is a professional writer, really challenged me to use my words to create imagery for the reader to really see the environment I was writing about.  I think I did that fairly well in this post.  And though I never really get a lot of comments I got some really heartfelt meaningful comments in response to this post.

I know it's hard to draw deep meaning from a song with the lyrics "What do they make dreams for when you got them jeans on."  But in the environment that night this song was a perfect backdrop.

3.     Me & Honey - REM
        also the ending

These are my first and supposedly last "baker's dozen" Shannon's story post.  I kind of did the Shannon's story posts as therapeutic recreation for some fun and just to see if I could revisit our life through her eyes (or at least how I thought her eyes would see it).  It did end up being very therapeutic and those posts always got the most comments.  I guess all of you must be siding with Shannon and probably agree I'm as ass!   :)

I did end up doing more Shannon posts included pre-quels and post-quels and other various analysis.  Anything for a comment you know!

There are a few posts that as I later read them bring me to tears.  The last Shannon story post "It's Not as though I Really Need You" does exactly that.  I'm not sure if it's a source of some pride or simply feeling the tranquility Shannon must have felt at that moment of such great achievement for someone whose life had originally been set for a fairly common trajectory. 

I love Jimmy Buffet music, I love basketball, and I love Carolina girls and this post has it all.  Oh, I also love a good coming of age story and I tried to weave basketball, women, music, and a coming of age story I once saw into a two (and later a third) part post about life on Tobacco Road in the early 90's.  God I love that song, so peaceful.  And I still wonder whatever happened to that White Polo jacket of mine.

"Ia Ora Te natura!"

5.     You're the Lucky One - Allison Krauss & Union Station

If it's not good enough to write a blog about your past life then take that same past life and mold it into a children's tale you steal from a beloved story.  I have always loved the story of the Velveteen Rabbit.  The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a somewhat updated version of the Velveteen Rabbit and seemed to fit my life.  I have certainly had my days as a somewhat haughty self-important person as I progress through my early adult years.  A few things pinned my ears back and led me to the life that led me to the blog.  This was a good way to show myself how I got here.  And of course this Allison Krauss song provided a great musical backdrop that perfectly echos my thoughts.  I have certainly in my life been a "Jack of all trades and a master of none..."  But always lucky and I do like to look at life with a smiling eye!

I'm just hoping I end with a great final chapter as I still owe you that part!

        part II
        part III
        part IV

In fall 2010 I was juggling four relationships: a rocky relationship with Shannon, a gentle sweet relationship with Sandra, a tantalizingly new potential relationship with Keely, and an even more seductive relationship that was a blog I was starting to write based off some ideas I got from reading another blog called Ashley and Me written by the great Riff Dog of days gone by.  What had started as a curious adventure had sent me on many chases.  But now I felt chased and this song felt oh so right.

We all go through high school, college, dating, marriage.  We learn how to break up and be broken up with.  There are the old tenets, "your a nice guy but....,"  "let's hit the pause button, we can still be friends."  It becomes almost like a menu.  But nobody ever tells you how to act in an affair and thus nobody tells you how to end an affair.  Often it ends and we just don't know it until we realize it's over and you realize you just moved on and nobody is the worse off.  Sandra is a wonderful person and I truly enjoyed the time with her.  She made me feel great.  We moved on, I hope she is happy; she deserves it.  I am happy for knowing her.

8.     Where to Now St. Peter - Elton John

When I wrote this post I truly thought things were over with Sandee and that I may never see her again.  Our relationship was such a part of me and I was not sure how to feel.  Sadness?  Perhaps, but really just wondering what comes next, much like the mood of this song.  Her presence on the blog had become ubiquitous and the joy I had in writing about our relationship took my blog to new levels.  Thusly, writing this post seemed like I was killing that main character.  I was sad and it perplexed me that I was not sure how much I was sad for the lost relationship or the lost character.  As is often the case the blog forced me to look critically inward into who I really was.  Thankfully Sandee came back to me and continues to be my friend.  And of course the blog continues to meander though on a somewhat uncertain path, as does my relationship with both Sandee and Shannon.  So I kick the can down the road for my stories and perhaps the discovery of who I am, the person who mourns a lost friend or a lost character.  It will be interesting to find that resolution, or perhaps not.

*     The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway - Idina Menzel (from the Frozen soundtrack)

This is probably that other post that always brings me to tears.  It's also, in my opinion, the post I'm most proud of.  From a sexy perspective Blurred Lines probably better connects with readers but from an introspective point of view (albeit in this case Shannon's introspection) this is more cerebral and emotionally deeper.  I did do a lot of soul searching and put a lot of thought behind this post.  Writing this did help me better understand Shannon.  I do feel that the concept of Johari's window is what makes marriage so difficult and Ashley Madison so appealing.  Making a marriage successful requires that you go to the blind spots of your partner's comfort zone that are perhaps new to you.  Success in marriage will require that you navigate and master these blind spots.  Unfortunately many never do and many relationships then fail.  With Ashley Madison you invite people into your facade.  They either oblige you or they don't.  But those that do necessarily welcome, accept, and endorse your facade.  In fact your facade may be their temporary facade.  The result is that temporary satisfaction that comes from being oneself for a moment with no commitment to being something you are not for the sake of another.  It's not reality but it does satisfy for a moment which is exactly why it's so hypnotic and seductive.

*     Arthur's Theme - Christopher Cross

Nothing like night-time kayaking on the Potomac for some romance.  For sex I think this was my best post.  "Her long hair cascading down into my face had that sweet floral aroma I have so come to enjoy.  Those floral accents augmented the salty beads of perspiration that now formed gilded island across her breasts."  Yeah, I think that could go into a romance novel!  Why say more.  Oops I'm back to being haughty and self-important now.

I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane, I enjoyed the memories as well.

Anyway, "whatever gets you through your life.  It's all right, it's all right.  Do it wrong, or do it right; it's all right, it's all right..."

Monday, February 27, 2017

Mumbo Jumbo Gooey Gumbo

It's Mardi Gras Time!
Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler!

No the title above does not actually contain lyrics from an actual song.  That is the fictitious song title Dick Van Dyke's character was going to have Conrad Birdie sing at the start of the movie Bye Bye Birdie.

But sometimes necessity is the mother of invention. 

I was thinking about a lyric title for today's post last night whilst the fam and I were watching Bye Bye Birdie and it seemed to fit.  You know for a guy like Ryan, it is a blessing having daughters.  I have come to enjoy Friday nights watching Bye Bye Birdie, Oklahoma, White Christmas, and other un-manly chick-flick type entertainment.  Heck, I was delighted the other day to find out Downton Abbey may be coming back as a prequel!  Believe me, college Ryan and single Ryan would never have been caught dead watching a musical on a weekend night.  Its amazing how life channels you into new joys and traditions.

In fact, food was never really a big part of my life until I started waiting tables and later became a restaurant manager back in my Big State U days.  I was a pretty finicky eater my whole life but at the Conference Center we only had one meal for a banquet and that's what you got to eat after dinner was served.  If you didn't like it you went hungry.  So I began trying weird stuff like Gazpacho and Spaghetti Squash, and Caviar and Roasted Red Pepper over Angle Hair Pasta (for some reason that was one of our top appetizers). 

But it always connects to something.  My mom was not a great fan of cooking but Shrimp Creole was always one of her favorites and a recipe handed down to her from her mom who grew up near NOLA and all that Creole cuisine.

So really those new habits always tend to spring from something that was already inside of you.

So the love of food was always in me and just needed the right path to find its way into my life.  I guess chick-flicks were always inside me or maybe what's inside me is the happiness I have when the ladies in my life are happy.

Anyway this is my 7th Mardi Gras food post and it was hard finding more music to use, it seems like I've used it all.  Given that maybe Mumbo Jumbo Gooey Gumbo is appropriate.

Btw, here are my other Mardi Gras Food Posts:

So for this year I admit I am stealing a recipe from one of my favorite sources - Garden & Gun Magazine.  I know Garden & Gun doesn't sound like Ryan but it is really the Bible of the true Southern Hipster mixing sports, culture, food, music, and art into a delightful monthly periodical. Created in 2004 as somewhat of a "latter day" Southern Living Magazine, it truly is an instructional guide on how to best enjoy the delights of the South!


2.25 tsp     Yeast
0.25 Cup    Water
1 tsp          Sugar
0.25 Cup    Sugar
2 Cup        Flour
1 tsp         Salt
0.5 tsp      Nutmeg
0.5 tsp      Lemon Zest
0.25 Cup   Warm Milk
3                Egg Yolks
3 oz           Melted Butter

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling:
8 oz           Cream Cheese
0.5 Cup     Brown Sugar
1 tsp         Cinnamon

Lemon-Sugar Icing:
1.5 Cup     Powdered Sugar
2 Tbs         Milk
1 Tbs         Lemon Juice


*     Combine yeast, water, and all sugar in a bowl.  Whisk until yeast and sugar are completely dissolved, then let rest until the yeast is foamy, bubbly, active, and looks like its in the process of having an orgasm (about 5 - 10 minutes)!
*     Combine flour, salt, sugar/yeast mixture, nutmeg, and lemon zest in the bowl of a mixer.  Fit mixer with dough hook, mix on low speed, and very slowly add milk, egg yolks, and melted butter until all ingredients are combined.  Continue mixing for 10 minutes.  If dough does not form into tight, sticky ball add pinches of flour until dough tightens.  Kind of like if your partner needs one more squirt of massage oil to get really revved up!
*     Scrape down bowl and mix for another 10 minutes.
*     Turn dough out onto oiled surface and knead into ball over 5 minutes.  Be gentle here, that dough is naked and feeling shy, it's needs special care for it to begin rising!
*     Place dough in oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until it doubles in size (about 1.5 hours).  Place dough on food prep surface and stretch into a long rectangle.
*     Combine filling ingredients and spread mixture onto the surface of the dough rectangle.  And don't go spurting all over the place, make sure you have a nice even then layer across that soft moist dough.  Roll dough into a roulade and slice into 15 medallions.
*     Place medallions flat side down in lined cupcake tines.  Cover, set aside.  Let rise again to double.
*     Bake at 325 degrees for 12 - 15 minutes, or until deep golden brown.
*     Combine icing ingredients in mixing bowl and mix until desired consistency, add liquid as need if too thick.
*     Glaze after cupcakes have cooled.  Decorate with Mardi Gras beads, and purple, gold, and green sprinkles as desired.  Add King Cake Baby or a jelly bean to make it complete!

Since there is no actual video of Conrad Birdie performing Mumbo Jumbo Gooey Gumbo I'll leave you with these delightful images of a beautiful and talented Ann Margaret showing how to true show passion and desire!

The King Cake helps to celebrate Mardi Gras which is the end of the Carnival season starting at Epiphany and just before Lent.  The cake is adorned in the Mardi Gras colors of green, purple, and gold as symbols of the gold, frankincense, and myrrh the wise men gave to Jesus.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

It's All I Can Do to Keep Waiting on You

Or the Tenth Good Thing About Sallie

Walking through her house the last few weeks I've come across a certain book left on a desk.  It was not odd to see children's books throughout her home, she was a reading teacher and had the equivalent of a small town library in her house.  But why was this one out, I thought for a moment as I speculated about the theme based on the title.  I finally sat down and read the story and it was as I thought:

"My cat Barney died last Friday.
I was very sad.

I cried, and I didn't watch television.
I cried, and I didn't eat my chicken even the chocolate pudding.
I went to bed, and I cried.

My mother sat down on my bed, and she gave me a hug.
She said we could have a funeral for Barney in the morning.
She said I should think of ten good things about Barney so I could tell them at the funeral.

I thought, and I thought, and I thought of good things about Barney.
I thought of nine good things.  Then I fell asleep.

In the morning my mother wrapped Barney in a yellow scarf.
My father buried Barney in the ground by a tree in the yard.
Annie, my friend from next door, came over with flowers.
And I told good things about Barney.

Barney was brave, I said.
And smart, and funny, and clean.
Also cuddly and handsome, and he only once ate a bird.
It was sweet, I said, to hear him purr in my ear.
And sometimes he slept on my belly and kept me warm.

Those are all good things, said my mother, but I just count nine.
I said I would try to think of another one later....."  from the Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst

My mother passed away in her sleep over the holidays.  She left the world quietly, the way she lived it.  Over the coming days many people asked us how we were going to cope.  For though she was quiet her impact and presence in our life was ubiquitous.  She transported kids to practices and to and from school.  She managed school projects, mended clothes, took care of needed tasks such as picking up those birthday cake candles at the last moment when forgotten.  Her smile was always a comforting salve to a challenging day for not only myself but the entire family.  As Shannon stated we were not a family of four, we were a family of five and she was the bonding glue that held our every day existence.

In life she was a teacher for over 35 years and in her spare time (though in truth a parallel career) she was a gardener, a seamstress, and a lover of animals.  Yet, to be fair, lover of animals would be a severe understatement.  As her former principle stated at the memorial "I always said that if I ever came back in life, I wanted to come back as Sallie's dog."  Oh, to be the person who received the love and attention of Sallie has always certainly been divine.

As we spoke in the days after, we realized there were so many ways she made our lives whole.  Her impact was vast and yet the biggest impact was the accumulated collection of small things she did for us each and every day.

The book on her desk began to make sense to me.  The boy was struggling to find the tenth good thing about his cat and yet what he was really trying to figure out was the true meaning his cat, Barney, had on his life.

In the end the boy figures out his true feelings for Barney and what Barney's lasting impact will be for him.

"Barney was brave, I said.
And smart, and funny, and clean.
Also cuddly and handsome, and he only once ate a bird.
It was sweet, I said, to hear him purr in my ear.
And sometimes he slept on my belly and kept me warm.

Those are all good things, said my mother, but I still just count nine.

Yes, I said, I have another.

Barney is in the ground and he's helping grow flowers.
You know, I said, that's a pretty nice job for a cat."

From my perspective what the boy comes to realize is that more than anything Barney made him feel loved and supported and his greatest gift was helping the boy grow.

My mom's ending wishes were as simple as the life she led.  She wanted her ashes placed on the mountains she loved.  And per those wishes we endeavored to find just the right spot, though we soon knew there could only be one appropriate eternal spot.  We silently placed her ashes at the top of a trail above the pond, finding a good spot among a collection of young Rhododendrons. Below us snow flurries fell delicately to the ground and on the chilly pond while Canadian Geese honked unknown communications to one another, the only sound within our melancholy yet beautifully tranquil scene.  A few people walked around the pond across the way.  How many times had she walked those paths with her beloved furry friends.  Yes, this was the spot for her to rest.  As I walked away I wondered should I take a picture but I know the peaceful image of the day will be implanted on my mind in perpetuity as is the appreciation for the person we were there for.

As I thought about the tenth good thing about my mom I realized that there was only one good thing about her.  And that one good thing was that her impact was pervasive throughout our lives. All the good things she did collectively accumulated to create the foundation of everything we are today.  We are a function of her enabling and nurturing love.  My daughters, their joys and talents were because of her support.  My success in life and yes I must admit my adventures here, a result of her ability to hold down the fort at times in order for me to pursue passions.  Shannon's success, a result of her helping me get through the challenges of work-life balance while she traveled the country enjoying success.  But more importantly was her ability to provide that stabilizing fabric of support woven indelibly into our lives.

My mother is now with her friends the geese, the birds, the deer, the squirrels, and she lays among the Rhododendron and enjoys the peace of the snow and the sun and the breeze.  I hope that is OK for her, though I know if we missed the spot she would have just said "it's OK, this is fine."

We will come back to visit her for I want her to see the people we have become, the women my girls, who she helped raise will become.  I think we are going to be OK and a lot of that is due to her.  And that's a pretty nice thing to have accomplished in life.