mindful living

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.)

There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole.

There is a balm in Gilead
To soothe a sin-sick soul.  

Those lines in my favorite spiritual are running through my head tonight because I sang them Sunday morning at the early service at the Episcopal Church.


Last Thursday, Red and I hit the road promptly at eight-thirty am, and I envisioned clear roads for the 490-mile drive to Denver, where I was scheduled to speak at ProGreen Expo on Friday and the Landscaping with Colorado Native Plants Conference on Saturday.


I am writing this from my new desk in my newly painted, trimmed, and book-shelf-lined office. My desk, a sheet of melamine counter material that Jeff, my contractor, cut to fit and trimmed with nice wood edging, is perched it on two clean sawhorses in the window bay with a view of one of the huge old spruce trees in my backyard.

I am writing this post from the breakfast nook off the vintage kitchen of my new old house in Cody, in the northwest corner of Wyoming. Late-afternoon sun pours in through windows that are gray with at least a decade of grime, but no matter.

My house looks like a home for wayward boxes. There are boxes everywhere: Boxes form a half-wall between the living room and the kitchen in the "great room," boxes hide under the built-in desk in my office and stack up to the lowermost bookshelves; boxes are tucked under the workbench in the workshop and fill the pantry.

Every year around Winter Solstice, I remind myself of the word I've chosen for the year, consider what it meant and how it was expressed in the way I lived my days, and then ask myself what next year's word will be. Sometimes I hear the answer right away; other times it takes a while. 

For the winter holidays, I like to spread light and love in the form of hand-created food. In particular, two rich and delicious treats I never make any other time of year.

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. 

I'm pretty sure that Red sighed with relief when I backed her into the garage late Thursday afternoon, home again after going 4,680 miles in the previous three weeks. (And five of those days we didn't drive anywhere. That's an average of 275 miles per driving day, which doesn't sound too bad until you add it all up!) 

The drive home from my working weekend in New Mexico was a little more exciting than my windshield time usually is, in part because of long stretches of road construction and drivers who behaved like they had never seen orange barrels before and either drove VERY slowly down the middle of the two-lane highway so to avoid those scary edges, or drove VERY fast, weaving around the other traffic. 

As Red's tires hummed a steady road-song on the long drive home yesterday afternoon, I found myself thinking about life as a pilgrimage, a journey undertaken for inspiration or enrichment. As a deliberate spiritual practice. 

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. 

One of my rituals between Winter Solstice and New Year's Day is to "listen" for the word that will serve as my intention for the coming year. I don't consciously think of a word; I tune in to my inner voice for what word presents itself. This year's word, "abundance," came to me as I was journaling one December morning.  

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. 

At the end of January, I started a process I've needed to do for months and dreaded because I don't understand how it works: moving my email and domain name (the URL for this website, susanjtweit.com) to a new computer host. 

For the New Year, I gave myself the gift of ten days away on a personal writing retreat. I holed up in a comfy motel in a town far enough from home that I was out of reach, but not so far that getting there required a lot of time or money. 

It was great.

This afternoon, I called my 87-year-old dad to check in, something I do every Sunday. While he told me about the morning's church service, which seems to have featured as much Christmas music as the two pastors could fit in, complete with choir, organ, classical accompaniment, soloists, and the whole shebang, I busied myself with starting my annual batch of Solstice eggnog.