Archive for April, 2012

Jay, Dan, and Cat: Together

Posted in Uncategorized on April 30, 2012 by drycreekherbs

What to say? Len and I went to Dallas for Jay’s Memorial. From the get-go, Jay would have made much ado over it all. As we drove into Dallas, I noted how easy it is to spot a funeral home. Not just the exterior with a portico and columns but usually a two part name. For example Porter Loring, Sunset Ridge, Fair Lawn, Harper-Talesek, Peel and Sons, etc. Len and I discussed this and about that time I saw a big sign that said Casket Store…it was what it said. Then I suggested to Len how you never hear of a funeral home called Duke’s or Buck’s…and I can’t even imagine one with a woman’s name…Hmmm. I will have to mull this over. At any rate, Len and I got tickled at this and we just knew that Jay would have loved the conversation.

I am just thinking about that conversation we had with Jay and Dan at Gershwin’s Bistro those many years ago. Seems like we were always talking about our funerals….that may have a been when Jfay told us to wrap him in a sheet and leave him at a rest stop…I say that because it seems we began elaborating on the theme. Jay saying that no one liked him enough to come to his funeral. I think that’s when the idea evolved for the five of us to go in separate cars…No HOV lane for us. We also talked about paid mourners. It was such a memorable conversation that we have replayed it over the years. Well, here it was finally happening.

The memorial started at 5:00 PM on Friday. The funeral home really was in a strip shopping center. I kind of think it is for families who really don’t want a regular service. When we arrived we were first, of course. Minutes later I thought Cathy arrived but it turns out it was Trish. I was sort of surprised at her noncommittal attitude but once I realized it wasn’t Cathy after all, it made more sense. The service was in a room with 21 chairs and about 6 arm chairs in the back. I think there were about 30 people there…mostly friends of the ‘kids.’ No spouses or grandchildren in attendance. Jay’s friend Marilyn was there with a friend, Jody and Jim, and a woman from the early market days whose name I can’t remember….she didn’t know any of us so I think she was from the very early years or the very later years. The preacher did a nice job…he made reference to how Jay was not a religious person, had a difficult childhood, loved his family, had become ‘testy’ in his old age, his friendship with Dan, his pets, AND his creative years in San Antonio with his dear friends Lee, Betty, Susan and Len! We were the only friends mentioned and mentioned twice! That made me cry. So, Jay’s interred so to speak in Dan’s box….along with Cat.

It was very brief and to my knowledge no ‘wake’ or reception. Kelley read a letter that her daughter wrote to Jay in heaven. Stevie did his best to make some comments but it was too difficult to proceed.

I asked Pam if I could take a photo of the little brass plaques on the box. She said, “Sure!” It was all very informal. Very. I don’t know if you can read the engraving….It says on one, “Dan, friend and father,” another says “Dad, One of a Kind,” the last Kitty Kat. I am so glad they put Kat with them. IMG_2410.jpg

All in all it was pretty much the way Jay expected. The ‘kids’ told us they had already taken care of everything. He had all the household packed and in boxes for the movers so they disposed of the boxes…I imagine keeping some things, surely. Stevie was up helping his Dad move, he said the first time he had been in Dallas in a year. He went to run to the bank and got a call that Jay had collapsed. Steve said he was there in about 3 minutes and when he arrived EMS was already there and working on him. There is a fire station just a block away from Jay’s old apt. He was DOA and a blessing for Jay.

I think this seems like a pretty cold description…it was as he wanted it and it was very sad but respectful. Steve said they would scatter ashes at a later date.This is the AF photo that was next to the box and it is also the obituary from the paper. They did have the wonderful photo of Jay and Dan at Kelly’s wedding…you all remember it…both in tuxedos, Dan with his arms crossed in front of him, and Jay with his elbow resting on Dan’s shoulder. I loved that photo of them. You could tell, Jay was being charming and glib in that picture.

This is the obituary that was in the paper.1335037432TouchstoneJay.jpg

Jesse “J” Touchstone passed away on April 18, 2012. He is survived by his children, Kelly Touchstone Loring, Kathy Touchstone Mullen, Pamela Touchstone Osborne, Patricia Touchstone and Stephen Touchstone, daughter-in-law Aimee’ Touchstone, sons-in-law Jim Loring, Peter Mullen and Tom Osborne, and grandchildren Stephen Touchstone, Leah Touchstone, Grace Touchstone, Nathaniel Loring and Geniefer Loring. He was one of a kind, dearly loved and will be missed. Memorial contributions may be made in his name to the Scleroderma Foundation, Attn: Donations, 300 Rosewood Drive, Suite 105, Danvers, MA 01923.

Pam told me that Jay had lots of photos of us and the kids from the early years….all in that rectangular box that sat on the coffee table. All the kids were very, very welcoming and appreciative. I find that I am much more saddened than I expected. I am so glad he didn’t have any long term suffering but I am so sad he won’t be around to tell me how much he hates my hair….do you remember how right in the middle of a conversation he would say, “Susan, I hate your hair.” I wish he could have seen it as it is now! I have got to find that happy snap of Jay and Dan!

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Jay Died.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 26, 2012 by drycreekherbs

I am having a hard time thinking of Jay in the past tense. There is nothing about losing a friend that you learn easily or ever, maybe. So here is the story. It is about both Jay and Dan. These two were really my Mom’s friends. I have been blessed to be able to count some of Mom’s friends as my own friends. Lou Ann, Jay & Dan, and Betty.

While I was newly married, living in Germany, Mom would write letters….she was NEVER a good letter writer and it is a credit to her love for me that letters were ever written and sent. Anyway, in these letters she started writing about Jay and Dan…two male decorators that were helping Mom and Betty with Normandy Terrace Nursing Home….in these few letters from 1970-74 there were more and more Jay and Dan references. Who were these men and how could my mother ever know interior decorators? I was excited to get in on this. Well, when we came back to the States I had a chance to meet them and I was soooo excited. They were on the edge as far as any people I knew…and certainly any people Len knew. Dan was rock solid, could do any kind of manual fix-it, and maybe the sweetest, soft-spoken, man on earth. Jay was crazy funny, sassy, and sooooo theatrical. I was captivated. I asked Jay at the end of our first meeting if I could go to Market….without a minute of hesitancy he said, “Honey, you too poh.”–(as in poor). He meant it. True, I was poh. So, I couldn’t go to Market and get pretty things for my house.

Well, then on New Years Eve 1975, the Lubbock, TX, warehouse with everything we owned in it, burned to the ground. Thank God for insurance! Voila, we had money. As a favor to Mom, they took us to market for two days to buy a house full of furniture. The first day, Jay learned what a pain in the butt I am. Dan liked me. They both liked Len. They walked us all over the market and although I thought I had died and gone to heaven, I was teetotallly overwhelmed. The second morning was the same. Len and I couldn’t agree on anything. Jay kept showing us one more thing. I was insane. We went to lunch. Len, Jay, and Dan drank martinis. I got everything I wanted that afternoon. And in away we all loved each other. They were our friends separately and together with Mom. Len, loved Jay and Dan and would have engaged in a fist fight with anyone who made rude references to their lifestyle.

On their lifestyle: Jay was married the entire 50+ years he was with Dan. Jay and his wife had 5 young children when he met Dan. Jay and Dan supported D. and the five children throughout the 50 years. The ‘kids’ went to private schools and had all the financial perks….that is not to say that they probably didn’t have hurtles. Not exactly the Brady Bunch, but then sort of. I believe the kids adored Dan; who couldn’t? J and D were great fathers. Jay was, as the obituary said, “…one of a kind…” Dan died unexpectedly 4 years ago. We all were sure Jay would die first. Let’s just say that Jay did the best he could without Dan. But he was miserable. He wasn’t prepared. Dan was about 8 years younger. Jay was in bad health, Dan was in great health. Cancer is mean.

I am clearly jumping around thanks to prosecco. Jay’s youngest daughter called me Saturday to tell me that Jay had a massive heart attack while moving to a ‘better’ apartment. A place he believed he could have people over for drinks and have some kind of social life. Jay and Dan moved over 75 times during their life together…fixing up houses so they were fabulous…what is now called flipping houses.

All this time, they would take me to market, when market was great. In the later years, Jay told me you could do as well at Dillards! OK. Here’s what I want to say. I learned more from Jay about decorating than I did in 4 years of college. He was my mentor as I wrote my Master’s thesis….he was also mean as a snake some times. I mean he insulted me more times than I can remember. BUT, he also loved me dearly and I adored him when I wasn’t plotting ways to give him physical and mental pain. Jay taught me words like ennui. We always kept a dictionary handy when we were together. He often told me that I was incredibly uneducated to have so many degrees. He couldn’t believe I didn’t relish biographies of movie stars. He always thought I had his Kathryn Hepburn biography even though I gave it back 15 years ago. The biggest fight we ever had was over Ode to Joy /Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. He made me watch some crooner whose last name I think was Hirsch. I hated it. Jay loved it. We watched Miss America together, fighting over every aspect. Always with too much drink. We named their Tea House in historic Sherman, Tx–Upstairs, Downstairs– after hours of drinking and hysterical laughing. We both liked the looks of the same boys–J of Terrell, for one! Len and Dan drank together and rolled their eyes at Jay and me. They were/are the nice two of the four of us. One time Jay and I were loaded to the gills and Jay called Mother and told her I was the ‘Bad Seed.” That went over big. Mom immediately asked to put me on the phone. She grilled me and told me to stop drinking with Jay and go to bed! Jay loved a good tid bit…secrets. I wish I had told some and made some up. He would have just loved them, I think. Over the past you r years I would go to Dallas to see Jay. Frequently he would tell me not to come. Jay was complicated, some times mean, often loving.

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I am so sad that he is gone but so glad he might be with Dan. I loved them both. THis photo is of us at Dan’s farewell ‘party.’ This is when Jay started wanting to die.

I don’t know how you quit being part of a 30+ year relationship. It makes me weird. Jay always said, usually after a lot of cocktails, that at his death, he wanted to be wrapped up in a sheet and left at a rest stop. That’s how funny he was.   

We are going to Dallas Friday for the service. It will be small. Thank you J & D for being a very big part of my/our life and for this….an Ode to Joy.   

San Miguel is Still Magical and Still Safe

Posted in Uncategorized on April 16, 2012 by drycreekherbs

I am home safe and sound. I am also overwhelmed which is how I stay most of the time these days. What ever happened to my brain during chemo has not come undone at this point or it may be any other medication…who knows?

So, no banditos or any other of the media sensationalized events were encountered. San Miguel has fewer criminal deaths than San Antonio on any given weekend. I just love the place. And amazingly, Len likes it. I don’t know that he loves it but that’s ok. He had a great time and plans to return….but I made it abundantly clear he is not invited for Day of the Dead. That is a girl friend outing, plain and simple. He says he will go again but wants to stay on the golf course…he said that yesterday, but today after playing golf on his 69th birthday eve, he tells me he doesn’t know if he will be able to play golf much longer. Gads, I hope this is temporary. His back is just wearing out….all that body torquing gets to a person after awhile.

I am always saying San Miguel is magical…I met three strangers there–two from Mexico City and one Canadian…in each of our conversations they said, “San Miguel is magic.” So I am not alone.   

Camie and/or Larry had arranged for a driver to pick us up and he was there when we disembarked. Ok, digressing a moment. About 3 or 4 years ago, when we got off the plane there were Mexican Federales with automatic weapons and their faces covered with ski masks all around the tarmac, plane, and customs. Now there are only American Airlines employees. This is a good sign, I think. I feel very safe there…but then I don’t go into neighborhoods where I ought not to go. Same for San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, or New York.

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Camie arranged for us to stay with Leslie Von Jaeger…we stayed in a casita behind her home in a beautiful garden loaded with hummingbirds. It was very private and very comfortable. I’ve actually been to Leslie’s home before a few years ago when she hosted some of the St Paul’s Day of the Dead welcome dinners. It is a gorgeous setting. Since the last time I was there, Leslie’s husband died so now she is on her own except for THE most charming adopted, street dog, Hector. He is beautiful and brilliant and knows how to work a crowd. Leslie has family in the US but she says she is perfectly happy in San Miguel and plans to stay forever.

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IMG_2297.jpgNow the highlights: We had a great dinner with Larry and Camie at Socialite the first night. Len getting his ‘sea legs’ with the altitude and meeting friends I adore. Next day we went to a cooking class at Sazon right off the Jardin. This is the very first ever, time Len has done anything like this. Gads, he astonished me. He was busy and happy. Who knew? There were only four people in the class…the other two young women from Mexico City. We did a tour of the market where we bought fresh everything then came back and cooked! We cooked, literally. Back to the food. We made fresh corn and poblano strips soup; sopecitos; tortillas; salsa verde; guacamole; salsa ranchera; and churros. We used a molcajete, a wooden tortilla press, and a cool pan for roasting peppers. We also bought fresh rotisserie chickens and other goodies that we ate too. The food was delicious and bountiful.

Hmmmm. I am loosing track of days. I guess it doesn’t matter if I remember what happened when–just if I can remember at all. Consider this: Altitude and alcohol. Now it is coming back.

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Good Friday. Breakfast at Camie and Larry’s beautiful home. It is THE House I want to live in. Len agrees. We had breakfast before the first procession came right by their front door. The procession was dear. Camie says the neighborhood kids grow up doing this–the Virgin Mary is carried down one street and Christ another. The two met in front of La Sirena Gorda restaurant. I like this photo of the priest in white socks.

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Back on track…maybe. We also saw two more processions. I can’t do them justice with my words. This is a much more somber occasion than Day of the Dead as you would expect. Camie made reservations at two different restaurants wit balconies so we could see from above–very nice. The last procession involved over 1,000 people. I heard that or read it. Not sure. As in Through the Looking Glass, the Mad Hatter or some one said, “If I say it three times it is true.” So to the procession. The women wore black dresses, black stockings, black HIGH HEELS (this is big in San Miguel with their cobble stone streets), black mantillas, and white gloves. The men wore black suits. It was HOT. I was filled with admiration for their commitment. The photo of Christ in the glass coffin was memorable–best without the bank name in the photo.

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Two days later: What’s going on with me? I can’t get my ducks in a row at all. Although I am happy as a lark, I often feel overwhelmed with life list things like errands and chores that I used to love. I must focus and improve.

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So back to Mexico and Easter–we went to two church services. One at St. Paul’s Anglican Church where I have gone whenever I haver been in San Miguel. And the other service was at the San Miguel Community Church. Camie met us at St. Paul’s…it was nice to see buddies from previous years. Then we went to the new (3 years-old) non-denominational community church. There were lots of buddies from the past there too. They have visiting priests/preachers who come for an extended period. It was very interesting, a big congregation, and very inviting. I am skipping over so much because I am so tired. After church we went to Carol and Harold W.’s hacienda for a lovely buffet.IMG_2355.JPG

After a siesta for me, and Len watching the rest of the Masters, we met Camie and Larry, Camie’s parents, and Leslie for a drink on the rooftop bar of the new luxury hotel, The Rosewood. It was freeeezng up there but the view was spectacular…especially the sunset. We moved on for a delicious dinner at Hecho en Mexico. I have to have more of the Arranchera.

I am going to stick a few photos in here then go to bed. I am not even doing the trip description justice.

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IMG_2344.JPGLeslie’s house is just to the left of number 15 on the short street that goes to the left.

Spot on the Xray

Posted in Uncategorized on April 11, 2012 by drycreekherbs

Yahoo. Carol called and left a message on my phone. I received this message on the way to San Miguel. The bone scan came back clear. No problem. Whew. Double and triple whew. Is this what it is going to be like? Every body anomaly up for suspicion and fear. Sort of.

Event Cascade. I Love that Expression

Posted in Uncategorized on April 11, 2012 by drycreekherbs

As with the sinking of the Titanic, many of life’s disasters are caused by an ‘event cascade.’ I hope I can work this expression into a conversation. Some other expressions that have been useful during Mah Jongg or happy hour include: oxymoron, schadenfreüde, sucking the hind tit, verklemmt, and über anything,

Len had a Marginally Good Time

Posted in Uncategorized on April 1, 2012 by drycreekherbs

I had a great time today.

I hadn’t been to church in 7 weeks. I can’t exactly say why…partially my sleep patterns have been ripped-what with day light savings time, which I hate, and two trips to the east coast. Anyway, we went to church for Palm Sunday service. I love the palms, etc. and it was good to see people I haven’t seen in a while.

We came home to change clothes ASAP since Teresa was cleaning today…yes, on Palm Sunday. So, we headed to the bluebonnet patch for photos (my idea); Len wa s already showing signs of wear. The bluebonnets were pretty well trampled and lots of families, dogs, and photographers were roaming around. The highlight of the photo session was Len having to pull IMG_2187.JPG me up because I couldn’t get up!

Straight away, we headed for Georgetown so I could go to DSW, shoe warehouse extraordinaire, with a $10.00 off coupon burning a hole in my pocket. Len decided he would sit in the car. That was a bad call. I was only in there 45 minutes, which is the minimum legal allowed. I came out with 8 pair of foots and one pair of divine yellow box flip flops. I was so proud. Len was so cranky.

After a Mighty Fine burger and fries, he was at least smiling. By the time we stopped at the Mean Eyed Cat Bar for photos and a brewski, he was a lot better. I think he is re-thinking the Mexico outing. I think he is feeling pressure about my expectations.IMG_2188.JPG IMG_2196.jpg