Richard Cabe

Back in March, I started two new projects: my running practice, and a total rewrite of Bless the Birds, the memoir I've been working on sporadically for the last, well, six years. 

The running's going well. I've settled into a routine of running two mornings a week, and I'm up to 3.7 miles now. I'm not fast, but I am running regularly, and that's what counts. 

Thursday, the hottest day this past week, was replace-the-dining-room windows day. That's the last in this batch of new windows for my wonderful but long-neglected house.  

We didn't pick the hottest day of the week on purpose. Thursday just happened to be when the stars aligned for my wonderful contractor, Jeff Durham, to have three helpers, plus the big forklift needed to move the 500-pound window-unit in place. Through my backyard. 

I didn't blog last weekend because I was in western Washington with my family. It's so rare that the whole Tweit clan can gather (only Molly was missing) that I wanted to soak up every moment. Even my middle niece, Sienna, and her husband and kids were there from Germany, where Matt is on detail with the Army Corps of Engineers. I haven't seen them in three years! 

Back when Molly was in middle school and high school, we lived in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in the Chihuahuan Desert just 35 miles north of the US-Mexico border. (There we are in the photo above in  grove of native Mexican elder trees in our backyard. My hair was still red and long then, Richard hadn't started shaving his head, and Molly had a cat named Hypoteneuse.)

Richard Cabe (1950-2011) ogling wildflowers

Five years ago today, at 11:07 am, Richard Cabe, the love of my life and the father of my beloved step-daughter, Molly, took his last gulping breaths. I still miss him acutely, though not every moment and not with the sharp pain of that initial parting.

After five years, the missing him is more like a dull, nagging ache, a bruise in the part of my heart our nearly 29 years together live. 


In Thornyhold, one of Mary Stewart's later novels, the heroine says that a message came to her "like a gift from the air." 



We arrived at Carpenter Ranch, our first stop on The Big Trip, the day after Labor Day. Betsy greeted us warmly. “The Bunkhouse is occupied, but you can take any room in the main house,” she said. “You can manage the stairs, can’t you?” she asked Richard.


Red and I left home almost a week ago, headed some 1,500 miles to our eventual destination, my brother and sister-in-law's house in Olympia, Washington. I gave myself four days for the trip, including two nights with friends Julie Weston and Garry Morrison in Hailey. 


This Tuesday afternoon, Red and I will head west on US Highway 50, bound for Olympia, Washington, for a family gathering over Labor Day weekend. It's a 1,450-mile-drive on the route I'm taking, and I don't like to drive more than 6 hours in a day, so it'll take me a few days. 


Molly drove home from San Francisco last week for her annual summer visit. She and her Heeler/Pit Bull, Roxy, loaded up "Little Red," Molly's new used car, a fire-engine-red 2003 Honda Civic, on Saturday noon and drove 1,300 miles, arriving in Salida on Sunday evening. 

Richard and me--in shadows--at Carpenter Ranch on The Big Trip, our last trip together

Back in May, I started on one last revision of my new memoir, Bless the Birds, after receiving comments from editors at good publishing houses that they loved the story, but... But it was just too personal, but it was just too intense, but it just wasn't quite right for them. 

It's Memorial Day, which reminds me especially to appreciate the two veterans in my life, one being the smiling 18-year-old in the photo above, Richard Cabe, fresh out of Coast Guard boot camp in 1968 during the war in Viet Nam. Like so many young men then, he didn't have much of a choice about his service. 


It was a rare slow night at Amicas, the wood-fired pizza restaurant in my neighborhood, which meant John, my favorite manager, had time to chat after I ordered my pizza to go. 


"How have you been?" he asked. I haven't been in for quite a while. Either I'm on the road, or home and feeling too vulnerable to be social--my loss, I know.


"Pretty good," I waggled my hand to indicate the ups and downs. 

For almost 29 years, I had the great gift of sharing this life with the man I loved almost more than life itself. Richard and I were as close as two humans could be--we held hands wherever we went, and we often completed each other's sentences, or knew what the other was going to say before the words came out. Our bodies knew each other as if we had been born twins, not six years and three states apart, on opposite sides of the North-South cultural/political divide and to very different family cultures as well. 


Tonight, as the sun set and the dusk gathered, I lit special candles and spent some time remembering those I love who feel so near at this time of year, even though their physical presence is gone.  



On weekends, I put the creative energy I use for writing into homework: projects around my little house and yard.


This weekend, I was determined to make more progress on the flagstone dining patio I'm laying on the east side of the garage/studio. I had laid the first four flagstones early this summer, when the ground was still moist and workable. 


Normally, I reserve my weekends for work around the house, or for creek and landscape restoration projects. This weekend, writing called me instead.

(The photo above shows Ditch Creek, my restoration project, right below my house. The shrub with the scarlet stems in the foreground was a seedling when Richard and I planted it 18 years ago. Now it shades the creek, nurturing aquatic insects and providing food for songbirds.)


I've been cranky around the edges for the past several weeks, less patient than usual, easily irritated and sometimes outright bitchy. I've embarrassed myself with my moods, and wondered more than once where the good-natured me went and who is this out-of-sorts woman currently inhabiting my skin.