I'm so pleased to have an article featured in the Better After 50 e-magazine. It's dedicated to all my magpie friends.


     My oldest son, Brent, and his South Texas Jazz Trio will be playing at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday, January 29. 
     I won't be there to hear him, but he has given me music to last a lifetime. Scales, and scales, and more scales; Chopsticks and Little Brown Jug; Christmas carols and church hymns; etudes, sonatas, and concertos mastered by hours 'sitting on a piano bench.'
     The black Kawai that he pounded the daylights out of for years, breaking so many strings that the company finally sent him a complete replacement set and told him not to contact them again, still sits in my home, mostly quiet now, reminding me of Zechariah 4:10 -

                    "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord                                                         rejoices to see the work begin..."                                        

     I will be praying for Brent and his wife, Jessica, as they travel from San Antonio to New York today and for a clear memory, sure and flying fingers, and tons of joy as he and his band wow Carnegie Hall on Wednesday evening.



     I muse about Eve from time to time. You know, Eve, mother of all humanity. Most of what I know about her comes from the Bible, which despite the naysayers,  I embrace down to its last jot and tittle. I know she walked with God, lived in paradise, and for a time, had the perfect husband, but the rest I surmise from our shared experience as women.  
     I imagine her on that first fallen morning as she rises to escape Adam's ungodly snoring, adjusts her fig leaves, and stumbles to the water's edge to wash a strange and bitter taste from her mouth. She tries to run her fingers through her once flawless hair, but they get snagged in a mass of tangles. Peering at her reflection, she wonders if those are ripples in the water or wrinkles on her forehead, and cursed with her newly-acquired sense of dissatisfaction, she oversteps her natural boundaries once again and declares, "I shalt create bangs." 
     And thus is born one of womankind's peskiest dilemmas from that age to this. Wispy or heavy? Layered or blunt? Should I grow them out or keep them? 
     Recently, I asked my hairdresser, Tena,  if she could  cut my hair in a way that would let me have bangs when I wanted them and not have them when I didn't. She looked at me as if I'd suffered a blow to the head since my last appointment. "You know that's not possible, right?" 
     Oh, Eve. I'll bet it was possible before the fall. 

     By Monday afternoon, we had our water back. By Monday evening, we had lost our heat. Early Christmas morning, I awoke to find that we had no water again, but - and this is a big but - I was able to prime the pump and get it flowing once more. Merry Christmas! 
     By Thursday morning, our hot water heater was no longer making hot water - something to do with the tank not being full enough to submerge the upper heating element. Luckily, we still get hot water from a separate tank out in our guest house, but it means trekking out there and back in the icy chill, sporting wet hair on the return trip. 
           Meanwhile, we keep our house barely above 60 degrees with a round the clock wood stove vigil. For the last 4 nights, I've slept on the couch so I can feed the fire every two hours, and that's where I'll stay until January when I have enough money to hire a handyman to come in and fix everything that can be fixed.

Update: January 13, 2014

Our furnace was 27 years old, which in furnace years turns out to be, well, dead. Thirty-five hundred dollars would have us back in heat and have me back upstairs in my bed instead of sleeping on the couch so I can feed the hungry fire all night, but short of my someone helping us out, or finding way more bottles and cans in the recycling container than I imagined, that isn't likely to happen. 
     My three kids, barely young adults, have taken it mostly in stride, There's been the occasional seethe and the amused wondering if someone has put a hex on our house, but all in all, they've been my heroes, and it breaks my heart to have them trapped in the chaos of my failure.       
     Ooh baby, it's cold outside! The temperature fell on Thursday night and so did the snow, blanketing our world outside with millions, billions, even trillions of one of a kind (so they say) snowflakes.  My three 18 year olds pulled out their ski clothes, bundled up, and along with several of their friends, entered the winter wonderland right outside our door. Until the sun set and even a few minutes longer, they sledded, built snow men, snow ladies, snow hockey players, and even snow polar bears. Reveling in the fun of it all, they tracked slush in and out and back into my house and left piles of damp clothing on my wood floors. Not finished yet, they struck out the next morning with renewed vigor to enjoy a freshly fallen layer of snow. 
     But, nothing being purely one thing or another, that cold-enough-to-snow weather turned dastardly, and sometime in the wee hours between Saturday and Sunday as the temperature plummeted to a measly 4 degrees, our pipes froze and the housing of our well pump cracked, leaving us without water. 
     Yes siree, 10 days without running water. But, thanks to the kindness of family and friends, we were able to shower every few days and to lug home bottles of water for drinking and brushing our teeth. Paper plates, pizzas, and pot pies kept us fed, if not satisfied, and we even managed to keep our Christmas tree from dying of thirst. Still, our spirits waned as the days wore on; the reality of 4 adults, 2 toilets, and an assortment of other numbers, was, well, you do the icky math.
     Hallelujah! One week before Christmas, the plumber arrived and fixed 4 burst pipes, restoring our water. That night, we bathed, we showered, we ran the dishwasher, washed the clothes, and gratefully used water in all the ways we had before taken for granted.
     Then, 24 hours later, it was gone, gushing from some busted pipe we couldn't see. 
     Now, we wait for our plumber with more anticipation than children wait for Santa Claus, hopeful that on Monday, 2 days before Christmas, we'll have the early gift of water.

     I fired my divorce attorney last week; I should have done it sooner. I hired him on advice from a counselor at church, but from the beginning there were red flags, starting with his 'modern chaos.' office decor. On my first visit, I saw boxes haphazardly stacked around the room and paintings leaned against walls as though he was just moving in, or maybe out. Trouble was, that never changed, but because I myself am a messy housekeeper, I didn't judge too harshly.  
    As the months drug on - eighteen of them, to be exact - his lack of housekeeping became the least of my worries. Days and sometimes weeks would pass without my phone calls being returned, and as my court date drew near, I began to feel desperate, irrelevant, and even invisible.   
     Finally, four days before we were due in court, with no case prepared that I was aware of, self-preservation made me pick up the phone and hire another attorney, one who I hope will be my advocate. The following morning, the judge granted a postponement of our court date.
     I am now living for January 3, 2014. 

Update: January 13, 2014
Another postponement. I am now living for February 11, 2014. 

Update April 13, 2014
Another postponement. I am now living for August 29, 2014   
     A friend once told me that money is coined life. Those words reverberated in my mind the day I learned how little the last 30 years of my life might be worth. As I drove home, I tried to console myself with the knowledge that having raised and schooled my seven children was its own reward, but the truth stung like my welling tears; I had traded my life for theirs, and there is little coin to be had in that bargain.      
     I can't say when I first began to suspect that I was invisible, only that I have no memory of not feeling so.  As a child, I was timid and self-conscious, fearful of embarrassing my parents or myself, so I stayed as quiet as possible and was relieved to go unnoticed.  By the time I was in my teenage years, I had become an attractive girl, fair of face and figure, and not being noticed was no longer an option,.  But while my physical-self received  attention to spare, my soul-self remained always in the shadows. 
     My boyfriend loved me, of that I was sure, but never more than he loved his own dreams. When I married my first husband, he saw only the girl he wanted me to be, choosing to believe that I was ready to be married, in spite of my words to the contrary.  Our brief relationship ended in divorce, but produced my first born son.  I remarried, and at once began to pay the price of what scripture calls, 'being unequally yoked.' God help us all.   
     Six children soon followed, and it became easier to believe that I was a woman of substance, not shadow.  Their interests became my interests, and their dreams, mine.  Through the years, I rode their coat tails into the future, pretending that I had a life of my own and had not merely co-opted theirs.  
     And now, after 30 long and lonely years, my lifeless marriage is mercifully coming to an end, and I realize I have never been more than wallpaper; wallpaper against which all things more important have been arranged.  My children, now grown, have moved on to more interesting backdrops, and my husband, well, he never did see the beauty of my pattern, and after years spent without protection from life's elements, it has all but faded away.    


KarenGrace Reflections of an Invisible Woman