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Happy Birthday Ted

Happy birthday Ted. I know it is a bit crazy that I want to celebrate your birthday this year when we seldom celebrated birthdays when you were alive.

Remember when we went to San Diego for your 40th birthday and I forgot the entire time we were there that we were to be celebrating it and you never once mentioned that I was oblivious? I like to blame that lapse on the fact that we had a toddler in tow that took up most of the focus of the weekend and that was my excuse.

I guess every special day is now heavy on my radar. Truth be told, even regular days can be big days to feel through without you in them.

I can’t even remember if we did anything on your birthday last year or if you went to Denny’s and got your free birthday meal. I never did get your infatuation with going to a Denny’s. I’d gladly take you this year if you were here.

So today, I’ll get you a filled donut and put a candle in it. Do you know that even after ten months of you being gone, that I still walk through the bakery department in every store looking for what sweets would make you happy that week? It is a habit I’ve yet to break and I still don’t realize I’m even doing it until it sinks in for the thousandth time that you are not home for me to take the donuts or other confections home to.

I don’t expect you to be at home anymore like I did for months and months. It finally sunk in that I don’t have to filter every decision through the lens of partnership and how it will affect you or our next dinner discussion. I will admit that the shift to knowing it is all just me and not “us” is a big one. It is both freeing and frightening at the same time. I mean, I still absolutely think what your opinion would be on my way of doing your standard duties in the house, gardens, and business, but I now feel like I just have to do it my way and you are backing me up in the unseen background.

Tonight I may sit at your beautiful bar and pour a finger or two of whiskey in one of your special glasses, hug your ashes and toast your birthday.

I miss you Ted. Happy Birthday.

Love, Sal

The phone calls you know are not good

Yesterday was to be my day of cutting wood and home made Indian cooking for Devin and I.

The chain saw is again having fits – as it did last year – in stopping after about a 30 second start. I fear the carburetor is again messed up inside as I have already changed out the hoses – no thanks to the YouTube dude who had me hooking them back up backwards and causing me to take it all apart twice. I’ll borrow the neighbors chain saw until I can get the carb cleaned out or replaced.

In lieu of cutting , Devin and I split a few logs that were already cut and seasoned and I located the pallet and backstop we use by the house for storing wood to burn – but take down each year for space to sit by the waterfall feature. Devin then said that he was going to go skateboard for a bit while I did my thing.

I got some of the plants together that will need to be brought in soon and then headed indoors. Most of my houseplants go outside for the summer and thus need to be brought in again in the fall.

I figured that Devin would be ready to eat when he finished skateboarding, so I decided to start the dough for the Naan I wanted to make.

I had the masala chicken already marinating in the fridge from prep the night before and had just finished up mixing the dough for some home made naan and was putting it in the oven to rise when the phone rang and it was Devin. (Trick I learned years ago: turn your oven on for two minutes and then turn it off. The temperature in the oven is now just about perfect for dough rising and is consistent in time to complete as well).

Devin said Hi and asked if I could come pick him up. I immediately knew that this was a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that he was calling and lucid. The bad news is that he would NEVER have me come get him if he could get home on his own. He relayed that he had hurt his ankle and yes it was bad enough that he could not drive.

I changed my clothes from the wood cutting dirty set I was currently wearing and into something clean. I was preparing that if it was as bad as I expected, then I wouldn’t have time to come home and change.

When I arrived at the parking lot for the skate park, Devin was in his car with his shoe and sock off and in obvious pain. He could move his toes and rotate his ankle a bit, but it was already swelling and had a bump on the side of his leg where there shouldn’t be one. We headed home to figure out how bad it really was and to make a plan on where to go.

It became evident very quickly over every bump in the road that sent Dev into a howl of pain that this was not a case of “ice and rest” today and go to work tomorrow, After a check of where to go for medical coverage that wouldn’t break the bank, we made an online appt and headed down the hill.

He joked that he hoped that they would give him a wheel chair when we got down to urgent care, and to his delight, they did. I was half expecting that he would have a secondary injury as he raced around the waiting room and practicing wheelies in the wheel chair as we waited.

Xrays showed that the outer bone of his ankle was fractured, but not broken. Think of it as a crack where both sides are still attached but there is no clean break instead of a complete break were it is definitely in two pieces. Still very painful and in need of 8 weeks of healing, but in no apparent need of surgery or rods or other supplementary healing devices besides a walking boot (currently on order since the Dr said it was much cheaper to order than to get from them).

We picked up crutches on the way home from some friends, then got back to the house as hungry as bears. I threw the chicken on the grill, started the curried veggies, the rice and got back to making the naan. I have to say, it was a meal worth waiting for. It made us both feel better after an unscripted afternoon.

Devin is expected to not put any weight on the foot for 7-10 days and then can wear the boot. Note sure if work will allow him to work in the boot or not just yet. He is in pain, but in good humor.

Today we watch football and stay out of trouble.

Love Sally

Down but Not Out

A big elk trudged on by just below the yard fence as I made my way onto the deck for my morning tea this morning. His antlers were broken on one side and his gait reflected that of a fighter who had lost the last round. He was alone since he had been fought and I paused and wondered if his spirit had also taken a beating in the apparent loss. My question was almost immediately answered as he began a long strong bugle – his call to the cows in the herd that he is strong and a good candidate for them to mate with. It is also the confident call that realizes the main bull of the herd could also come and challenge him once more if his harem starts to wander the challenger’s way.

I had to smile at his cavalier attitude and determination. It was a nice take away from a cool autumn feeling morning.

This is a picture of one of the bulls traipsing about the neighborhood recently. Could be him, could be one of five or so others that hang around the herd.

Just thought I’d share.


A Big Birthday

Thank you to everyone who sent out birthday wishes for me. I had a great day(s) and felt well loved.

As many of you know, my family doesn’t make a big deal out of birthdays. Growing up, we would get our favored dessert – elderberry pie for me – but that was mostly the extent of the celebration. Never wanting to be the center of attention (or scrutiny), it was fine in my book to not have a party.

Maybe because we never dwelled on birthdays, the number on each one never gave me any pause. I didn’t say crap when I turned thirty, and forty didn’t seem much different. Fifty came and went and I felt like I was at the perfect age to hang out with the older eighty-year-old friends and still my younger set in their twenties and thirties. The number of years since birth just seemed like the speed limit signs as you drove out of town. Like your age, the 20mph was in the school zone and flashing – a warning that the zone is temporary and extra caution against severe stupidity should be exercised. Then, you enter into the housing areas where the speed increases much like the decades – in ten mph increments.

So while those other “zero” birthdays that moved us in number from one decade to another, were never scrutinized, this 60 mph marker looked like a billboard as it approached. It could be: because my dear mother never even made it to that marker, or I’ve let myself go completely grey over the last several years and so the mirror no longer plays along with my inner view that I am still this much younger dark haired gal, or maybe because life throws curveballs and suddenly you are spending hours on the phone with social security office – something the older generation was supposed to be dealing with and not me, or it could be the reminder of this would be my first birthday without Ted in 35 years, but for whatever reason, this one loomed large for me.

It was fortunate then, that at the last moments, a distraction of a plan hatched for a quick trip to the east coast to see friends who actually have been with me through all of those previous decades and life changes. Buddy passes from her sister were provided and they have the condo on Topsail Island in NC, – so cost didn’t factor in. An added bonus was that we had several birthdays to celebrate as both husbands of my gal pals have birthdays just before mine (and they have a few years on me, so I still got to be the baby of the group – one wasn’t with us in person, but we kept him in spirit with us).

We took beach walks and jet skied the intercoastal waterway to check out other islands along the coast – sometimes at breakneck speeds faster than the age that was approaching as we raced to and fro. We ate some great fish and some really yummy oyster shooters on more than one occasion. We engaged in some people watching everywhere we went as it is a fun pastime in any locale. We laughed till our bellies hurt and made great memories of our current time together as we regaled those of the past as well.

It was a beautiful and fun diversion that made me feel like I was rolling back the years instead of adding onto them.

I guess we only had the camera’s out when we were in establishments. 🙂

Thanks for the memories.

Love Sally

July 2 Memorial Details

The plan as it stands right now for the July 2 Memorial gathering is: We will be at the pond starting at 2:00pm, meat will be off the grill around 6:00 pm and fireworks will commence at dark. Yes, I hope to put a bit of Ted in one of those mortars and let him sparkle in brilliance one more time.

Many are bringing a side or dessert, so if you can’t manage or don’t have time, don’t fret about it. No one has ever starved at the pond – or at any friend and family gathering for that point.

Sunset at the pond

There will be tables and chairs at the pond, but if you are one to like your own comfy camp chair to hang out around the fire and with friends and family, then do please bring it with you.

Young and old alike are welcome to swim and play in the pond, but please bring a life vest if the swimmer is not certified as a proficient swimmer. There will be no life guard on duty.

On the chance that the weather is a downpour (not forecasted), or if you cannot make it on the 2nd but do want to stop by at some point, we will also have more festivities on the 3rd as well (Ian has a memorable July 4th shindig every year) and truth be told, we will be celebrating time together on the 1st at the pond too. So, long story short, the memorial is on the 2nd, but come when you can. We would love to see you.

If you are now asking where is this amazing pond that you speak of, the farmhouse is at 5817 Mcclintocksburg Rd. Ravenna, Ohio. If you first locate the farmhouse at said address – picture for reference below, then the pond is 1/2 mile (or so) south of there on the East side of the road. I am told there is now a nice driveway back to the pond.

Come for a moment, an hour or all day. We would just love to see you and be in the playful atmosphere that Ted loved most. I hope to see you there.

Love, Sally

And Then it was Summer

Spring flew by in a flash. Yesterday, I realized that it was likely the first day since I had stepped away from my job that I didn’t have a list as long as my arm that needed to be done the same day, nor were there people stopping by to help out with something. It was a quiet day. I worked on getting some of the calls to companies that I knew would take hours to complete – still didn’t get the task accomplished, but at least I’m a few more hours closer to the goal. I did some mowing, and some dusting (the pine pollen had formed a layer onto every surface previously recently cleaned), and took a nap. Not a bad way to begin the summer.

In the rear view mirror and off the list of “firsts” to be experienced was Ted’s June Memorial and Corn Hole Tournament. I’m glad to say that I would classify it more as a joy-filled event, than a sorrowful one. Not that tears were not spilled, but it was so full of Ted, that it was easy to be comforted in the fact that he was indeed there within the friends, colleagues, and a sprinkling of the family (we will have much more family at the July memorial in Ohio).

While we didn’t have a formal ceremony at anytime within the day, it was still filled with the expected stories shared between attendees as folks from different circles got to know one another and relay how they knew Mike/Ted. Photos were laughed at and sometimes cried at. Friends from the Carolinas to Seattle and many parts in between had come and so friends old and newer got to meet and tell each other their version of Ted all the while creating new stories to be remembered an told down the road.

Ted would have been pleased with the house and yard. the bright orange poppies were beginning to bloom as were many of the iris around the yard. Yes, this would be much later than anyone reading this who is not at our altitude, but you must remember that we were still receiving heavy snow up until the end of May.

A huge Thank-You to all who helped get the yard, gardens, waterfalls, and house in order. Santa’s got nothing on me for awesome helpers. If ever I had thought that I would be alone in this world without Ted, the support that has flowed in and over me has put that to rest.

The food was amazing – as are all who put the time and effort into so many of the great sides and desserts. Ted loved desserts best, so he would have been in heaven if he wasn’t already there.

A special Thank You to Gayle and Joe and all the helpers for roasting the pig to perfection and Galen and Ciara for the all-night dedication to the awesome smoked brisket.

The cornhole tournament was won by the team of Rich and Cutter who overcame an early loss to come back and win it all. Congratulations guys. Ted would have loved to play against you.

Thanks for all who came from near and far and played and cheered and shared your love for our Mike Ted Fill.

Love Sally

Grief Blooms in Spring

For the first time I can remember, the spring season has been an emotional struggle for me. Who would have thought that grief also blooms in spring?

Ted died at the beginning of winter, so it was natural to curl up mentally and physically. That nothing was growing, no leaves on the trees, fewer animals about as they all hunkered down in winter – felt right. It was nature painting that of what you have when all is done and dormant. That view was where I was and it was somehow comforting to be encased in it.

But then, as it always does, spring opens its window and lets in its warmth and new songs in the air. I mean, truly, the air has a different song in the spring than in winter. Not just the birds who are back from their winter migration and chirping as if they have months of catching up to do. The actual breezes have a different song. I swear to you that if you sit by your wind chimes outside in winter and again in spring, you hear different notes. It is as if Winter has a different set of mallets used to play the chimes than Spring does. Winter plays with a harder more crisp beat and tone than that of spring, who brings out the brushes instead of the mallets and plays with a lighter touch. Even the gusts sound different. Winter gusts sound commanding and of a warning tone and in spring, well, the gusts feel like it isn’t about you. Springs gusts are a symphony of dance that wants to be frenetic and free – without the restriction of direction or rhythm.

For me, grief intensified once spring hit. I had thought that once we made it through Galen and Ciara’s wedding, that grief would ease. We not only made it through the wedding, but it was also amazing and joyful and it felt like Ted was with us and I thought spring would then be as grand as it always is.

I was right, but I was horrifically wrong too. Emotions are like weeds and flowers. Some come up easily and some are deep in the ground and take seemingly forever to come up. Then once they do arise, they are unrecognizable. You can’t tell what it is until it has filled the space and bloomed. And then, those deep deep rooted ones are hard to get out once you do know that they don’t need to stay.

I underestimated how much Ted’s presence would be missed when the switch was flipped from winter to spring. In winter, Ted would be in his mad scientist room and conjuring up new projects. He was maybe less visible in winter except for when he would come up to eat or watch some television and rub my feet. He always rubbed my feet and legs as we watched TV. That and a good back scratch are two of the things that I still miss daily.

In spring, he was outside figuring out where he was moving his shrubs around, how he would change the garden, undoing parts of his waterfall to redo again. He could never leave things alone. He always had to tinker and make it better, or change it or move it. I would get exasperated at how many times a shrub would be moved in our yard. One space would become too small for it when it grew or it wasn’t growing fast enough for him and so he would move it. Sometimes it grew and it just wasn’t how he envisioned the space to be, so he would move it elsewhere. This would happen with so many different annuals and shrubs. It use to drive me nuts sometimes. “Why are you making more work for yourself?” I would complain. But in the end, he was usually right and the much moved vegetation would be best where he finally left it.

I’ve had alot of help this spring with clearing up the yard, projects around the house and general repairs, but that too made me miss Ted. It just showed me how many people it will take to assist to handle the things that Ted has always done and I took mostly for granted.

Spring is a season of newness, hope, and promise of things to come, and honestly, the embodiment of moving on. It is hard for the boys and me to want to move on too quickly though. I can feel my heart opening up to spring and her beauty of new grasses, flowers, and buds everywhere. To the playfulness of the robins again finding nesting spots around our porches and eves and the new bunnies in the yard. We are not sure if Peter found a mate, or if these are from some of his friends or relatives. But while my heart opens to all of the newness, it also breaks as it reopens.

Spring makes me feel like it is forcing me to open up and take a new look at my surroundings. But that opening up feels like a protective shell cracking and under the shell, it is so new and fragile. It makes me realize that Ted was my protective shell. He made it easier for me to just be me and not worry about getting enough water to the right areas and the water storage monitored. He took care of so much of the indoor and outdoor space. All I had to do was feed him and he was the energizer bunny who was always busy with something. I mean, I did help obviously, but I could get out of much of it just in the time it would take to make three full meals a day for us.

I realized as I listened to an interview this week, that my cooking skills may have been honed by the avoidance of some other duties. In the interview, the host was asking the gal how it was that she mastered the piano. The gal admitted that she had never washed dishes growing up. She explained that as dishes were being cleared from their table, she would begin to help clear the table, but then find herself at the piano and would practice and sing the latest song that they were all interested in, and in doing so, she was entertaining the ones who ended up washing the dishes. They liked it, so they let her continue on the piano as they washed, dried and put away. She got better at the piano and also never ended up washing a dish in many years.

I guess what I am saying is that spring has shown me that my audience is gone and that I now need to do all of those other things that I so willingly avoided while Ted was here to do them. I’m also realizing that I had the better end of our deal and it is a bit overwhelming to have to fill in Ted’s shoes.

So overwhelmed by the thoughts of all that needs to be done at home, for Ted’s business, and in getting ready for Ted’s memorials, I have decided to step away from my job for the summer to figure things out and give myself some time. It has been so very busy with work and visitors and the wedding and getting Ted’s projects figured out, that I just felt like time was the one thing that I was craving the most. Yes, it will come at a cost of loss of salary for a while, but it’s never been about money for me. I need time. Time to spend with friends and family and not have to worry about getting to work the next day. To be with the boys and help Galen out with Ted’s business for a bit. To sit on the deck and take notes on how nature carries on. Nature is after all, a wonderful teacher.

I wish I had more time with Ted, but I don’t, so I’ll not kill myself working too many hours with not enough time to focus on what it is I need right now. The job will either be there for me when I hope to go back in the fall, or it won’t and I’ll move on to something else. Spring is here to show that life changes quickly sometimes and if you want to enjoy it, you just might need to slow down and stop and just watch to see what is growing around you.

This quote came up in my feed recently, and felt it was speaking to me.

My living wants to include travel, new places, learning the unicycle, seeing friends and family and making and keeping connections with those that I meet along the way. And Hugs, lots and lots of hugs.

And as if Spring did not want me expect all steps to be forward and not to have a step backward in there from time to time, after a week of very warm weather in the 80’s and 90’s in Denver, she sent a bit of winter back for a visit.

This was our yard yesterday.

Proof that life can be all over the place, but there is beauty in it all.

Love Sally

Oh, and if you think you are coming to one of the memorials, go back to yesterday’s post and fill in the rsvp form for the one you are coming to. ❤

RSVP for Memorials

Learning something new today and testing an RSVP add on so that organizers for Ted’s Memorials can get a grasp on the number of people attending so that we have food for all. Meat will be provided, along with water and some snacks, but we are hoping that some attendees will bring a side dish to go along. Not required and we would rather have you here with open arms than full arms, so, if you are crunched for time, visiting from farther away or just don’t feel like it, don’t think another minute about it. Just come. We have never had a gathering where people went hungry, so just come. Oh, but do bring a camp chair if you have one. We will have extras at both places, but having your own will ensure you have a spot to sit.

I’m not yet claiming myself as an organizer as I have no clue what I am doing (and that doesn’t just include the memorials). I hope this works, but if it doesn’t, maybe you can send a text, email or smoke signal and let us know which one you might attend. There should be two rsvp’s on this page – one for Colorado and one for Ohio. I hope to see and give lots of hugs to those who have been holding us up in thoughts and prayers through this rocky road.

None of your information will be shared and I promise you will not end up on some email list in the future.

First form is for the Colorado get together.

And now the one for Ohio to be had at the Tomlinson Pond

Five Excellent Ingredients.

You know, they say with five excellent ingredients, you can create a masterpiece. I can attest to this.

I was blessed to go to a show this weekend. It was billed as ROBERTA GAMBARINI/HOUSTON PERSON/ERIC GUNNISON/CHUCK BERGHOFER/LEWIS NASH

My friends had seen Roberta Gamarini recently and have been following Eric Gunnison at venues in Denver for years, so when they invited me to the supper club of Dazzle to see the performance, I easily agreed to go.

I won’t claim to know much about Jazz and had never seen or heard these musicians before, but I can tell you my experience.

The show started with Roberta singing a solo a cappella. She showed her brilliant voice and range and soulful delivery and if music was a meal, this would have been a bite to satisfy and make you think you didn’t need any other ingredients.

This musical performance by all masters of their trade, did make me feel like I was having a meal for the soul.

The sax player was an older gentleman and when he played the saxophone, I could nearly swear that his notes had the words to them just as if he was singing alongside Roberta. I chuckled to myself when he first came upon the stage as his saxophone looked like it hadn’t been polished in years. I guess I’m so use to bright shiny instruments, that it caught my eye that it lacked the luster and shine of the normally seen on polished brass. But when I heard him play, it was as if he had allowed a bit of every note that had ever been produced in it to cling to part of it’s surface so that every following note had just a little more resonance from having come after previously played notes. As I sat there, it really did remind me of how they say that a good smoker/grill gets better the more it is used and that leaving some of the residue helps the next batch gain even more flavor.

The piano player used the piano like it was the backup singer who could have been the main star, but was content to play notes that sang along, and harmonizing beutifully with the main voice. His playing also created visions (at least for me) of a dancer, tapping and twirling off to the side while the singer sang.

The drummer, having those smaller and higher pitched drums than the rock sets, set the beat and accents to the tunes much as the piano player did. He would sometime lay down the beat with what felt like a caress of his drums and symbols and sometimes belting out his notes and showing the voice of his set had just as much range as anyone on the stage. Like the piano, his drumming would also allow me to think of him as another backup singer and dancer as his notes twirled and tapped on the opposite side of the stage.

And then there was the bassist – a gentleman who use to play with Frank Sinatra. Truth be told, they have all played with the greats and are greats on their own, but his years with Frank are the easiest for me to recall and relay. He knew how to let the star shine, but give them everything as a base to sing upon that brings it all together like a fine dish. I did keep coming back to the analogy of food when I listened to them all – together and individually. It wasn’t until the bassist had his first solo routine within a song, that it dawned on me, that in my food analogy, he was the amazing sauce that I smelled cooking throughout and didn’t overpower any bite, but brought it together so wonderfully.

Roberta Gambarini was not just the main attraction and was not just this singer whose amazing voice carried on the waves and flow of the notes the others layed down in accompaniment to her. She would lavish her clear full octave range singing upon us, and then suddenly, she would transform into another instrument on the stage. She would scat sing notes alongside all the other instruments that made for a fifth instrument that could again solo on its own.

It seems that Roberta travels and sings all over the world and picks up good musicians or already established jazz bands to accompany her wherever she goes, so this was one of those five-set shows, that came together with five incredible people that we were lucky enough to see on the fourth of the shows. This meant that they were five superb ingredients that in the food sense would each had been tasty on their own, but given the time to stew in the shows before us, we were served the masterpiece of a dish that had the time to cook and simmer and bubble until what we were served was perfect.

Such a good time and yes, all of those individuals will be playing individually or with different people in the coming days and weeks, but I feel so thankful to have gotten to enjoy them all together and will savor it.

Yes, we were only maybe 12 feet from the stage, so when I say it was an intimate concert experience, I mean it.

Thank you my pals for including me.

Happy Easter everyone. So much to be thankful for.

Love Sally


Poems are a funny thing. Not funny haha, altho some limericks come to mind that make me chuckle. Poems are words, sometimes set to rhyme and sometimes to a cadence and sometimes they just seem to just have words that the person penning it puts together in an abstract way.

I sometime will write a card to someone and make a poem out of it. Sometimes I will set to writing a poem and in that process of finding words and phrases that work, my mind digs into my heart and finds not what I set out to convey, but something else that flows out altogether differently than I had expected.

I have a poem somewhere inside of me for Ted, but I currently cannot even get it started. It feels like trying to pick up a grain of sand just as a dump truck has raised its bed and opened the gate. What you thought could be picked up is now buried under a massive pile.

The beauty of words and poems are that everyone has access to the same words and just through thoughts and ideas and creativity, these words can be put together in so many ways. That is why some days, we can read someone else’s words and you recognize them and identify with it and it feels familiar because if you could have, you might have done it the same way.

Well, that happened to me tonight as I read the following poem. It pulled the words out of my heart and put them in front of me to read and feel. So, while this isn’t my poem, it is very much one I say in my heart to Ted as I go to sleep.

I’ll still work on words of my own and who knows, I may even share it here.

Love Sally