One Year Later – A Shelter For My Heart

First wedding anniversaries are traditionally paper, but I have something a bit longer lasting for John than my words here today. Tucked in the corner near the edge of the new addition is a lasting reminder of how grateful I am for the love and life I have with him. It seemed a perfect way to express how I feel and the words that came to mind when he first told me that he wanted to build a space for me, a room of my own to do whatever I wished … a quiet place to find my words and rest.

A shelter for my heart was what I thought that day … he’s building me a shelter for my heart!

As lovely as the idea of a quiet place of creativity and retreat is to me, the reality of how safe I feel in this relationship is even more important. Safe, respected, and well loved … in his gentle way John provides a shelter for my heart everyday, by loving me as I am which is a gift far greater than one built of bricks and stone.

Last July when the rock walls were going up on the exterior of my new studio space, I took a small stone heart that I had found on one of our walks and pressed it into the still wet cement bordering the cornish stone on the extension. I hoped John wouldn’t see it until today so I could use it to illustrate just how much he means to me using this tiny bit of rock as a symbol and marker for our story.

Standing outside yesterday as I took the picture above, I thought about who might see the heart shaped stone years from now and if they would wonder how it came to be placed there. I could almost see them, younger than we are, but full of the hope that comes with new love, happy for the chance to create a story of their own in this space … a place with a permanent heart shaped reminder, that love that once lived here.

If you would like to see some pictures from our wedding day and read a bit more about our love story, I have few links you can follow below. One year ago today, John and I made a very public declaration of a lasting kind. It was a lovely day filled with family and friends and unexpected surprises like this one found here. With no fears and no doubts, we said I will and I do, making legal the commitment we had made earlier while standing here, alone, on a bridge built to last forever.

When It’s Not Just A Turkey Sandwich

John made a soup the other day using some of the leftover bits from our Christmas dinner. He hates to waste anything and decided to dump a good many things into the big soup pot. He made soup instead of a curry because I don’t really care for curries in the same way he does. He thought he was being nice and thinking about me and in a very sincere way, he was but … isn’t funny how there’s a but here … so when he announced that he’d made a nice soup with the turkey leftovers I assumed for a half second that he had used the bones and the bits of turkey left on them. What I quickly discovered was that all the turkey in the house was now in little pieces floating in a mixture that I was not going to eat.  At least not in a turkey sandwich which I was looking forward to having for lunch that day.

To say that I handled it well would be a stretch. As I went sulking off to my unfinished studio space grumbling to myself about how important that sandwich was to me and how could he use all of the turkey up and never ask me and how I was really looking forward it and why did he think I bought the white bread which I never eat except with turkey sandwiches and why couldn’t he have asked me and on and on and on …

Poor John was left there thinking … it’s only a turkey sandwich!

Right! Only a turkey sandwich is what I tried to tell myself too. We normally get along so well and I imagine no woman ever felt more loved and respected than I do so why was this turning into Turkey-Gate 2009?  As I went off to think, I thought about what was it that made the loss of a simple thing like the sandwich so important. Frankly, I’m not even that fond of turkey and tend to think of it more as an accessory item for Christmas dinner than a necessary piece.

It turns out it wasn’t about the turkey sandwich, but rather the ritual of eating it with my family back home. Traditionally, it is almost like putting a period at the end of the sentence and closes out the family Christmas festivities each year. Missing my daughter and the rest of my family and friends back in America made it more painful in a way not to finish things up as we do there. After I had thought for a little while, I came out to talk with John who bless his heart listened quietly, hugged me while I had a little tear, and acknowledged my feelings without being the slightest bit dismissive.

I thought it was all behind us after that until yesterday when we went into town to pick up a few things at the grocery store. As is our way, we split up in the store with each going off in different directions to pick up the items on our lists with a plan to meet at the checkout line. Imagine my surprise to see him standing in a place he never goes, at the deli counter buying something he never buys, sliced deli meat. I knew immediately what he was doing … he was buying a few slices of turkey so I could put some closure on my Christmas in the way I would in America. I was so touched that I almost had a little cry right in front of everybody.

So you can see now why sometimes it’s not just a turkey sandwich, but instead a little gift of the heart.

As well as the best turkey sandwich I ever had.

Unexpectedly Sad

 Flowers From Our Garden & Empty Chairs

Flowers From Our Garden & Empty Chairs

This weekend has ended much differently than it began and I don’t quite know what to say except I may be away for a few days. John and I are safe, but someone very near to him is not. Yesterday, after staying behind to make sure everything would be ready for a family gathering and a barbecue at home, I received a call from John letting me know what little he knew and that he was on his way to the emergency room at a local hospital. He had so little information initially that it seemed as if everything might be all right so I stayed calm and continued on with the preparations holding on to the idea that it would all turn out to be just an exciting story told around the dinner table later that evening.

Once he saw the doctor it became clear that everything had changed. As the family gathered at the hospital and later the bedside, I lit the charcoal fire and carried on. The rain that had been threatening our garden party and outdoor supper seemed suddenly unimportant as it rolled in soaking the area I’d worked on earlier to make functional and welcoming.

At home alone with no car, I did what I’ve seen women in my family do in these situations, I cooked. I had piles of food waiting to be grilled for our supper so I rummaged in the garage looking everywhere for the charcoal briquettes John had mentioned were there only to find them sitting in plain sight and right in front of me overlooked by my distracted mind.

Moving the grill to the outside edge of the garage, I cooked under the overhang of the garage door so the rain wouldn’t wet the fire that I struggled to create. My little fire flamed and gave off a good bit of smoke as I stood moving the sausages and burgers around the grill… alone in the rain. I thought of John at the hospital waiting and when bits of smoke hit me full in the face, I teared up until I couldn’t tell if it was from smoke or sadness. All I could think of was love and loss and how the lyrics to “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” would forever have a new meaning for me.

Our dinner party guests arrived with John late in the evening… minus one.  As they sat down to the food I’d kept warming in the oven, they ate and talked carefully around some things such as next steps and “how long” while openly laughing at some of stories they shared …stories that connect them through their common history and blood ties.  New to this family… I could only listen and serve…glad to have an activity to take my mind off how differently the day had begun and the “what ifs”  that I’d been trying to push away all afternoon as I struggled to make sense of the events of the day.

There is little now we can do but wait.  The doctors have given no hope of recovery and have said it’s just a matter of time. While the staff at the hospital focus on a painless transition for this much loved family member, I’ll focus on the care and comfort of those who are now a part my family.

I may be away for a few days, but I’ll be back.

Flower Delivery For Abelard & Heloise Still There

If you’ve been reading my blog, you may have read about my gift for Abelard and Heloise.  If you haven’t, you might want to go back and take a look at yesterday’s post so this one will make sense to you now. Kim, a blogging friend in Paris took a little stroll up to Père Lachaise cemetery yesterday after reading my post to see what I left behind. She sent me word in the comment section of yesterday’s post that my wedding bouquet was still there.

Today, she very kindly sent me an email with a photograph she took of my bouquet at the grave. In the picture, you can see someone else has tossed a flower tribute as well. I left mine there on February 4th and it looks suprising good for being out there slightly more than three weeks. If you consider that I made my bouquet on February 1st, I’d say those flowers were a good buy.

Big thanks to Kim for sending this picture for me to share.  She’s added a new chapter to an already sweet memory.

Wedding Bouquet - 3 Weeks Later February 26, 2009

Wedding Bouquet - 3 Weeks Later February 26, 2009

A Gift For Abelard & Heloise


Carolyn guessed correctly that I was taking my bouquet to Père Lachaise cemetery, the burial place of many people famous in their day and in their death. Many know that Jim Morrison of The Doors fame is buried there, but some may not know that Moliere, Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Isadora Duncan, Edith Piaf, Camille Pissaro, Richard Wright and Gertrude Stein and her partner Alice B. Toklas rest there as well along with too many others to name here.  While many of these grave sites would have been a good place to leave my flowers, I had a different location in mind.

As you can see from the title, I took my bouquet to the shared grave of the famous lovers, Abelard & Heloise who while separated by horrible circumstances in life, now lie together in death. I’ll leave you to read the stories that tell the tale of love, separation, and the loss that accompanies their doomed love affair. Much has been written and I’ve long been interested in the letters they left behind in The Letters of Abelard and Heloise (Penguin Classics). I’ve owned a copy for longer than I can remember and still take it off the shelf from time to time to reread parts of it.

They were secretly wed in real life and I thought it a sweet gesture to leave my wedding bouquet where modern day lovers or those who are loveless have left their own letters for years. If you know the story of Abelard & Heloise, it may seem odd to leave a happy token of our special day in a place where one might see only the sorrow of lovers separated in life, but I tossed my flowers over the iron fence that surrounds their grave for Heloise who never wished to be the bride of Abelard (because of her love for him and her fear of the consequences) or of Christ, but seemingly followed the wishes of the man she loved to the end of her days. It’s a romantic gesture of hope for lovers who wish for deep and abiding love.  

My images are not quite as I would have wished…the grave site had scaffolding around it as repairs were being made to to the aging monument and it was difficult to get a clear shot without the barriers.


Two Heads Side By Side On Pillows Of Stone




Angling For A Good Landing Spot

Angling For A Good Landing Spot

My Overhanded Toss Of The Bouquet Captured By John

My Overhanded Toss Of The Bouquet Captured By John

Perfect Landing!

Perfect Landing!


Abelard & Heloise

A Gift For Abelard & Heloise

Will You Stay With Me, Will You Be My Love

Will You Stay With Me, Will You Be My Love....

Will You Stay With Me, Will You Be My Love

Today is the anniversary of the day I first stepped off a plane in England and into John’s arms. We’d spent the previous six weeks first emailing and later talking on Skype so we’d seen each other online for quite some time, but had never touched. Very quickly, I developed a huge crush on the darling Englishman who is now my husband. That we met for the first time in person on Valentine’s Day was more because it suited my work and travel arrangements than by romantic design. Because I had so many frequent flyer miles and a keen interest in seeing John in his own space, I suggested the idea that I come to him. I came with an open mind and a tender heart, but no expectations beyond the idea of getting to know him as only one can when actually in the same physical space.

As I write this, I have just been reminded by John that one year ago today, exactly 30 minutes from now, my plane touched down in a tiny airport in Newquay.  It is a vivid memory for us both and it’s funny now to look back and remember the thoughts and feelings I was having as I walked down the steps of the commuter flight across the tarmac and into his warm embrace that morning.

Any of you who’ve been reading my old blog ( ) for long are aware of how this first meeting progressed from friendship and mutual attraction to the sweet ceremony we went through not quite two weeks ago. It seems appropriate to share our buttercup story and why these tiny yellow flowers have such meaning for me now.

When I arrived on that chilly day February 14, John asked me if I felt up to a little walk along the ocean on the coast path at a place called Bedruthen Steps. It was on the way back to the tiny village where he made his home and he was exited to show me a bit of the Cornish coast that he’d been telling me about for weeks. Despite having been too excited to sleep on the plane, I was definitely interested in seeing any of the places I had heard him refer to during the hours of talks we’d had using Skype.

We gradually worked our way back to the village and after putting on wellies we took a walk though a beautiful wood that opened into what I now refer to as the buttercup field. Of course, in February there were no buttercups, but I was intrigued as John described how by May the field would be covered in gold as the buttercups competed  with the constant green of the grassy space. As he told me this I thought how lovely that would be, but it was only after having spent the better part of two weeks with him that I knew with absolute certainty that I needed to come back to this field and stand in the middle of the buttercups that he said would come with the month of May.

Jumping ahead here and skipping over the activities that happened in order to bring me back, I arrived  back in England on May 13th. As I got closer to my travel date, I kept asking John, “ Have the buttercups bloomed yet? “ I was so worried that I would miss them.

Below are some of the images from the day I arrived in May last year. Few things in life are just as we imagine they will be, but this day was special and it was better than I could have imagined.  When I first saw the field of gold, I could almost hear Eva Cassidy’s voice singing in my head providing a romantic soundtrack to accompany the images that filled my eyes.  The song I heard was Fields Of Gold and I now think of this as our song. Take a minute and listen to it here.

I love the part of the song where she sings, ” Will you stay with me, will you be my love…”  These words were embroidered on a special linen tablecloth by my new friend Tina to use on our table for our wedding reception. The flowers you see are the two buttercups I picked that day in May. I tucked them in a pocket on the side of my pants and played in the buttercup field with them where they stayed until we returned  home. I forgot they were there and when I noticed them again, I took them out and pressed them in a book. They dried twined together having fallen into the position that you see in the picture. I took a photograph of them and Tina created a sketch from it and the tablecloth design is a now a lasting memory of the day I came back to John and saw the buttercups for the first time.

I’m off now to climb Bedruthen Steps with John as we go back to the place we walked one year ago today. Today we’ll celebrate old memories and look forward to making new ones…and soon we’ll be walking in fields of gold again.

Fields of Gold - Buttercups

Fields of Gold - Buttercups



The Two Buttercups

The Two Buttercups

Here’s a last photo for today from where retraced our path along Bedruthen Steps.

John & Elizabeth, The Return

John & Elizabeth, The Return