August 1984 - March 1985
Age 25 & 26

"For the first time in my whole life, I believe that I am an integral part of
something, and this is what gives my life meaning

August 5, 1984
Sunday afternoon/evening

Hello, new journal!

I've been trying to find time all weekend to write something "introductory" here, but between taking care of two rambunctious toddlers and the constant flow of neighbors in and out of the house (Terry, Mike, Rick, Phyllis, Marcy), I haven't had two seconds to myself.

This has been a weekend of thunderstorms, hydroplane races on TV and potato soup brewing in the crockpot ... Ray getting down on all fours and chasing the girls around the living room ... watching "Mr. Mom" on Showtime three times, eating pizza on Saturday night and steak sandwiches on Sunday, going grocery-shopping on Friday while Terry babysat the girls.  Jamie invented a new cereal: Cocoa Krispies mixed with Smurf Cereal. She pooped her pants repeatedly, in spite of our latest attempt at bribery -- a basket of little gift-wrapped prizes (small toys, pencils, stickers, etc.) that she can choose from, IF she uses the potty. So far the prize basket hasn't proved sufficient motivation, I guess. Kacie discovered our newest kitten, a month-old calico we've named Lucy, and insisted on carrying her around by the neck until we finally had to hide the kitten for her own protection. Kacie also discovered lollipops this weekend: she rubbed them into her hair until it was as stiff and spiked as Billy Idol's.

I took a brief "vacation" from housework, and by Sunday morning the house was filthy. I was horrified, therefore, to look out the window at 11 a.m. and see my father-in-law pulling into the driveway!!!  He'd come to collect the rent from Ray. I barely had time to throw a bathrobe over my ancient nightgown before he got to the door. He brushed aside my apologies about the mess ("You should see our place," he said, although I seriously doubt that he has Smurf Cereal and wet diapers all over his kitchen floor) and visited with us for about an hour. He gave us some family news (hard to come by these days, since we don't have a phone): Aunts Dora and Helene will be here from Tucson later this month, and then Ray's sister Patty and her family are coming at the end of the month. Grandma D. has postponed her visit from Arkansas until Christmas. Ray's little sister Barbara starts high school next month.

The L.A. Olympics moved into their second week, Richard Burton died, the Miss Budweiser won the Seafair trophy, and the price of bananas went down? ... up? ... sideways?

August 6, 1984
Monday morning

So OK, is Jenny Gardner going to die or what ... ? (On "All My Children")

Monday morning. I can remember the "old days," when Monday mornings were deeply depressing because it meant going back to work ... now it's just another day of the week. I'm not "going back" to work this morning, because I never got OFF work. I'm constantly on-duty!

Actually, this particular Monday is slightly distinguishable from other days.  The house this morning has a funny, empty feeling it hasn't had in months ... Ray has gone back on day-shift, after 4-1/2 months of working swing-shift. It feels so odd to not have him here this morning!  Sad, but interesting, because the sadness is tempered by anticipation: he'll be HOME tonight! I'll have someone to eat dinner with and talk to and watch TV with. I've enjoyed my solitary evenings, but I'll enjoy his company even more, I think. It's going to feel brand new.

Jamie was particularly surprised when she came into our bedroom this morning and saw his side of the bed was empty. "Oh, Daddy not home today," was all she said about it. She accepts things so matter-of-factly.

(Donna & Tom?? On AMC?)

My plans for today are extremely small-scale. Dishes, laundry, bake some peanut butter cookies, set my hair so I look nice for Ray, finish a letter to Melinda.

6 p.m.

Waiting for Ray to come home. It's been a long day of kids and cleaning, and I'm looking forward to a little adult companionship ... and a cold beer.

Kacie pushed one of the big living room lamps off the stereo speaker and it broke into a million pieces. I was very angry, but she was so upset about it that I didn't have the heart to do more than scold her a little. Even that much "punishment" from me completely broke her heart, and she cried uncontrollably for half an hour. I finally had to pick her up and rock with her in the rocking chair to calm her down.

Kacie at the height of her impish phase. It was tough
to get mad at her when she was THIS cute.
Summer 1984

August 8, 1984
Wednesday 11 a.m.

This summer is passing unbelievably slowly ... one hot sticky day melting into another, into another, into another ...

The thunderstorms last night gave us some temporary relief, but today it's back to temperatures in the 90's. I'm so tired of it. I think longingly of autumn -- chilly mornings, cool afternoons, icy nights  ...  leaves falling, fires in the fireplace, rainstorms, Halloween  ...  and it all seems a million light years away. Sigh. I'm just not a summer person. I don't like heat, I don't like blinding sunlight, I hate sunbathing. Summer is the worst time of the whole year, as far as I'm concerned, and I'll be so so glad when it's over and fall is here. I'm sick of the heat, I'm sick of the damned Olympics on TV ( with all the endless network hype and promotion), and I'm sick of feeling hot, sweaty and grouchy.

There. Now that I've gotten the complaining out of my system, on to other things.

Ray's great-aunts arrived yesterday from Arizona; he talked to them on the phone last night. I have an intuitive feeling that Ray's Dad will probably bring them over sometime today, undoubtedly when I'm least expecting them, so I've been trying to pick up the house a bit this morning, while it's still relatively cool (78º as opposed to 98º?!) The aunts have never seen Kacie -- I don't think? -- so it will nice to introduce her to them. And of course they haven't seen Jay since she was a baby.

Ray has been home at 6:30 the last two nights in a row. Both nights he's been dead-tired, the result of getting up at 4 a.m. after months of sleeping past noon. It will take a while for him (and for all of us) to get used to the "new" schedule. It's nice having him here in the evenings, though. He doesn't do much -- plays with the girls, eats some dinner, watches TV, falls asleep -- but it's just the idea of having him here that feels good.

The girls in their wading pool.
Jamie was a fan: Kacie, not so much.
Summer 1984

August 9, 1984
Thursday morning 9 a.m.

Mind-numbingly depressed this morning. There is Smurf Cereal all over the kitchen floor: I just stepped in it with my bare feet ... seven cats milling around my living room  ...  the damned Olympics on TV for the eleventh day in a row  ...  and although it's only 9 a.m., it's already in the mid-80's. Jamie is in a bossy, imperious mood. ("Hey, need milk on my cereal! Hey, need cold milk 'nee my ba-ba!" )  And Kacie just put her (half-empty) cereal bowl on her head. Ray wasn't home last night until 8:30, and he was drunk, broke and mad at me for spending my money on Avon. In bed he started in with the full-throttle snoring, driving me out to the sofa, where I tossed and turned uncomfortably for hours. When he left for work this morning at 4:30 a.m., I crawled back into the bed and finally got a little sleep. I was having a lovely dream -- I was re-living that first chaste romance with John R., circa 1972 -- when dogs barking and Jamie slamming doors woke me up.

Journal -- I'm telling you -- I don't know how much more of this I can take. The month of July seemed to last for a year, and August is giving every indication of lasting twice as long. Will summer EVER be over?

August 10, 1984
Friday 10 a.m.

Well,  it's better in some ways  ...  still the same in other ways.

It's not supposed to get as hot today -- "only" 78º is the forecast. That's better. Ray was home yesterday at an unbelievable 4:30, in a lovely mood. He relented on the Avon issue and said I can keep the ring I bought, even though it leaves us flat-broke for another week. He made BLT's and french fries for supper, and we drank a few cold beers together and talked. (A little hungover today.)

Yesterday afternoon Peg came by with a whole vanload of Ray's relatives (I guess they're my relatives too, aren't they?)  ... Ray's two great aunts, visiting from Tucson, plus Barbara, Judy, Billy & Nathan. It was the drop-in visit I've been expecting all week, and now that it's finally over I can quit holding my breath. Actually, it wasn't too bad. Kacie charmed the socks off her Great-Great-Aunt Helene. Usually my younger daughter is a bit shy around unfamiliar people, but she was smiling and flirting with Helene, giving her little toys, as if they'd known each other for years. Jamie was too busy tearing around the house with Billy to pay much attention to the Great-Greats, even though it's been two years since she's seen them.

Kacie charmed the socks off her Great-Great Aunt "Helene"
Summer 1984

I'm never completely at ease around Ray's family, but yesterday I did my best to relax and be myself. The trouble is, I never know if I'm successful or not. What does Peg think of me? What did the aunts think of me, my house, my kids? And why do I care so darned much??

I'm square with Maureen, the Avon lady -- I gave her the $3.38 I owed her yesterday -- that's one less thing for me to worry about. I do still owe Mike Bruff (our 16 yr. old neighbor) three dollars for cleaning out the carport the other day. He's been here several times already looking for his money, and I feel bad about it. Later today I'll go next door and apologize for the delay and explain to him how broke we are.

August 11, 1984
Saturday morning

HALLELUJAH !!!! I could hardly believe my eyes when I got out of bed a few minutes ago. Can it be?? It's cool, cloudy and OVERCAST!!!!  I'm so thrilled about the break in the heat,  I've been dancing around the kitchen, singing silly songs (much to my daughters' delight!) ... fixing toast and Tang  ...  laughing at the Cocoa Krispies on the floor ...

Ray volunteered to work eight hours today (Saturday) because he says we need the money. We certainly do. When he got home last night at midnight, I had to send him right back out with a handful of pennies and nickels to get a quart of milk. The dogs and cats haven't been fed in two days because we can't afford pet food. (Later today I'm going to borrow some dog food from the neighbors, and then I'll feed the kitties our last can of tuna fish.) Ray usually isn't around much on Saturdays, anyhow -- he's either sleeping or down at Dave's Place -- so nobody has even noticed that he's gone. I'm in such an unexpectedly and blessedly good mood (the goddamned Olympics are over tomorrow, too!!) that I know this will be a good day, whether he's here or not.

Kacie has a funny new word this week - "flowers." What's funny is the way she says it ... she purses her lips and puffs up her cheeks and sort of blows the word out ... "FOWFS!"

Jamie has been painting with my watercolors this week, under my close supervision. I've noticed that she usually starts out holding the paintbrush in her right hand, but then inevitably switches to her left. So far all she does when she "paints" is make great muddy globs of colors, but she loves it. I'm kind of watching to see if she's the daughter who inherits the Vert family artistic talent, although I know it's much too early to tell.

August 13, 1984
Monday 10:30 a.m.

Monday morning again. I'm glad to say my depression from last week has (almost) completely lifted. The externals have improved: today is another lovely, cloudy, cool day.  We may even get some rain. The Olympics ended last night with one last blast of hype and hoopla ... today all the regular daytime shows are back on at their regular times. We've gotten rid of one cat this week (Deeky, an all-black from CeCe's early-spring litter). The house is only moderately wrecked today -- I should be able to get it back into shape in a couple of hours. I feel rested and only residually depressed today ... like the final hours of a particularly bad hangover. My bouts of depression are a nuisance, but they don't last forever.

Our weekend was OK -- one of our typical "broke weekends" -- scraping together every nickel and dime we could find, drinking generic "Beer Beer," eating whatever was in the cupboards, borrowing five dollars here, ten dollars there. The car is completely undriveable now, so Ray had to hitch rides to the grocery store with neighbors and friends.

Yesterday Peg came over and picked us up in the van -- Ray, Jamie, Kacie and I -- and took us over to


August 15, 1984
Wednesday noon

We'll try that again.

On Sunday Peg came over and picked us up in the van and took us over to their place for the day. I was expecting some of the other "kids" to be there (Don Jr. & Judy, Sheryl & Jeff, the other grandbabies)  ...  so I was mildly surprised to discover it was just Ray and the girls and me, plus of course the aunts. We stayed for six hours. Aunt Dora made her famous chicken and noodles for dinner -- she made it especially for Ray because it's his favorite.  After dinner Peg wanted to watch the "grand finale" of the Olympics on TV so we had to wait until that was over before she brought us home, around 10:00. (I pretended to be really interested in the show, but of course you know how I really felt about it!)

Kacie paid all sorts of attention to Aunt Helene once again, following her all around the house and out into the backyard. She also played in Peg's kitchen cupboards. Jamie wandered around the house for awhile after we first got there, looking for "Boy" (Billy), but when she finally realized he wasn't there, she was content to collect pine cones in the backyard and chase after poor old Joker, Barbara's cat. Both girls ate a healthy dinner, to say the least! Jamie flattered the heck out of her Grandpa by eating second helpings of the cucumbers from his garden.

Don and Peg are in the middle of extensive remodeling -- new blinds & draperies, wallpaper, furniture, carpeting, etc. etc.  --  the works. I am (naturally) envious, but even Ray and I got something out of it -- two gallons of leftover off-white paint, which they can't use. Ray has rather grudgingly agreed to paint our bedroom this weekend, which would make me very happy.

Saturday night, by the way, Jamie finally succeeded in going "poop" on the big potty, for the first time in her life! Ray and I made a huge fuss over it, telling her what a big girl she is and how proud we are of her. We also allowed her to pick two little presents from the special basket ... she got a tiny deck of cards and a little box of candy. I thought maybe this was the turning point we'd been waiting for, but since that night she hasn't repeated the performance, preferring instead to hide away in her room and mess in her pants. I am not disheartened, though.

Not feeling terrific today. I stayed up too late last night, and today I'm feeling wrung out and weak as a kitten. There is also something worrying me -- it's too much of a mess to go into at the moment -- but once again there is a very real possibility that Ray may lose his job. He received another damned writ of garnishment in the mail yesterday, and as I understand it, that puts his job in jeopardy. I know he was very deeply worried about it last night.

Scene from today:

Jamie is playing outside, Kacie is napping, Mama is slumped in an armchair, watching a "Family" re-run on TV.

Suddenly Jamie comes scampering into the house. "What's that, Mom?!" she shouts.

"What, honey?" I ask, getting up to look.

"What's dat out dere by gate?" she asks again, running back to the carport and pointing at the ground. There is a very small - and very dead - gray mouse, laying beside the garbage can.

"That's just a mousey," Mama says. "He won't hurt you."

"Ohhhh ..." Jamie says, looking solemnly at the inert little creature. I figure I'll ask Ray to move it when he gets home from work, and I go back inside to my television program.

Moments later Jamie dashes back into the house and jumps onto my lap, throwing her arms around my neck. "Oh," she whimpers, "I got sit here ‘nit Mom, so dat mousey don't get me!" Lately she has been displaying a fear of bugs, squirrels and birds ("Dat birdy almost get me now!"). Apparently her phobia extends now to "mousies" ... even very flat mousies.

Just then Mike, the boy from next door, rides his bike past our house. Jamie runs out the door and flags him down, chattering at him to "Come here and SEE! Come here and SEE!" He pulls his bike into our driveway and Jamie shows him the dead mouse, which he promptly scoops up and tosses into the garbage can.

Satisfied that "dat Mousey ALL GONE NOW," Jamie returns to her play. Mike is her hero for the rest of the day.

August 18, 1984
Saturday night (big deal

Why can't I wake my husband up? It's only 8 p.m. on a Saturday night, and he is lying motionlessly on the sofa.  Last night he promised he would come home and spend Saturday evening with his wife. I guess that in the strictest sense of the word, he's keeping his promise ... he's here. I guess I just forgot to make "remaining conscious" a stipulation of our agreement.

I went to a lot of trouble earlier this afternoon, putting on makeup, setting my hair, even doing my nails. More and more often lately I just haven't bothered with that sort of thing, but tonight I feel tired of looking like a slob and I thought I would make the effort to look nice for him. He came home at 7:30 ... mumbled a few unintelligible words at me ... and promptly passed out.

So here I sit on a Saturday night. Not alone  ...  but alone.

Cartoon from the original journal

August 20, 1984
Monday morning

He "revived," a little bit finally, on Saturday night ... enough to go out and get a pizza and watch a little TV with me. I was looking forward to a bit more excitement that evening, but at least he did follow through on his promise to come home and be with us.

Yesterday -- for the second Sunday in a row -- we spent the day over at the in-laws'. (The aunts are leaving for home this morning, so yesterday was our last chance to visit with them.) This time, though, no one had to pick us up: Ray got the car back on Friday night, and it's running beautifully. Also, this time "everybody" was there ... Don Jr. & Judy, Sheryl & Jeff and all the little ones. We had a nice visit and I took a lot of pictures.

August 21, 1984
Tuesday, early evening

Hot ... and muggy. The summer weather has returned with a vengeance. The air feels thick as pudding: even walking down the hallway to change my blouse for the tenth time today is more effort than it's worth, so instead I'll just sit here and smell like a dock worker.

I just took a picture of the girls, sitting together on the camphor chest. Jamie is wearing an ancient, years-out-of-style blue sundress that somebody passed down to us, and Kacie is wearing a faded cotton dress that's miles too short for her. Still, they look so sweet in their funny old dresses and their short bangs and their bare feet - like a couple of little "country girls" - that I had to take their picture. Will it be a favorite someday? 

The girls perched on their Great-Grandma's camphor chest
Summer 1984

August 22, 1984
Wednesday morning

Grouchy and irritable today. Haven't even had my first cup of coffee yet, which may be part of the problem. I stayed up until 2 a.m. reading "The Clan of the Cave Bear," and I'm walking in my sleep this morning.

At least it's cool and overcast today. I couldn't take another thick muggy day.

When I got up, Jamie was messing around in the kitchen. Nothing much seemed to be out of place, except that my camera -- with three pictures left on the roll inside -- was sitting on the counter. "Did you OPEN this?" I asked her sternly. If she did, all those pictures of Dora and Helene are lost.

"No, I dint open dat!" she said.

"You don't TOUCH MY CAMERA," I told her, putting it on a high shelf. "I mean it, Jamie."

Her lower lip began to tremble. "Hey," she said in a shaky little voice, "Don't talk 'me like dat." This is her new, flippant comeback when I reprimand her, and it irritates the heck out of me. I was too sleepy and grouchy to push the point, though, so I just ignored her. I walked out of the kitchen and down the hallway to pull the wet sheets off the beds and air out the bedrooms. In the kitchen, Jamie began to wail. "I'M A GOOD GIR NOW!" she sobbed. "I'm a good gir now! I'm a good gir now! I'M A GOOD GIR NOW!!!"

If I don't assure her that yes, she's a "good girl now," she'll keep up the wailing for hours. This particular morning I don't feel like hours of it, so I stopped and hugged her and told her everything was OK, and she finally calmed down.

(Note: When we got the developed roll of film back from the store, there was a picture of the kitchen table that Jamie had obviously taken, moments before I walked into the kitchen that morning.)

I'm irritated with Ray this morning, too. I asked for a lousy twenty dollars for my Avon, and he left me a high-handed, snotty note this morning:


He came home last night at 9:30, reeling from (quote) "four beers and four rum & Cokes." Hell. If he can afford to be paying for drinks every damned night, why can't I have an occasional twenty dollars for things I want and need? I never go shopping. I don't buy clothes.  Except for Avon once in a while, I rarely ask for a cent. Twenty fucking dollars out of a paycheck, and he treats me like I'm being unreasonable and money-grubbing.

Actually, I'm not even buying the Avon for myself: I've started buying Christmas presents. This time I bought a birthstone necklace for Mom. But that's not even the point, is it? The point has something to do with not having any money of my own, and with Ray's reluctance to part with a few dollars for his wife once in awhile. The point is my resentment at having to beg for every dime and nickel. The whole thing has got me doing a slow burn today.

How can I make some money of my own??


1 lb. ground beef
1-1/2 eggs
1/2 c. dried bread crumbs + 1 slice whole wheat bread, torn into tiny bits
Salt & pepper
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. celery, diced
1/2 c. grated carrot
1/2 c. grated zucchini

Mix all ingredients in large bowl, shape into medium-size balls, place in pan. Top with one can cream of mushroom soup mixed with one cup or so leftover au jus. Cook in oven, uncovered, 350?, 40 min. Cook an additional 40 minutes covered.

August 23, 1984
Thursday morning 10 a.m.

Good morning!

I'm in a MUCH better mood today. I know it's difficult keeping track of all my emotional ups & downs  ... but if YOU think it's hard, imagine how confusing it is to ME! It's like being on a roller coaster. Some days I feel on top of the world  ...  other days I'm hitting bottom. There is no predicting how I'll feel on any given day ... the moods come and go like changes in the weather, though not as easily forecast ...

Speaking of weather. This has been one of those odd "combination" days ... you look out the west window of our bedroom and see blue skies, and then you look out a window on the east side of the house and there are huge, angry black clouds laying overhead.

The girls are standing/sitting on the camphor chest ... Jamie, in pink rosebud underpants, waving her hands dramatically and singing along with Berlin ("No-more-wurds") .... Kacie in a pink jammy top and dry diaper, one ponytail on top of her head, happily mouthing a green Lego ... both of them watching Madge The Manicurist on TV with a concentration usually reserved for Sesame Street or MTV ...

My girls. I was such an old bear to them yesterday. Today I look at them and see how very small they are, how much they depend on me, and I vow that I'll make today a happy day for them both.

Ray worked until 6 p.m. last night and was home at 8:30. I made a big dinner -- meatballs, potatoes and corn -- and he played with his daughters, made a quick trip to the store for milk and lollipops, and then ate almost everything in sight.

August 24, 1984
Friday morning

Kacie has taken to waking in the middle of the night again. Every morning around 3 a.m. she begins to wail at the top of her lungs, and nothing -- not a bottle, not a back rub, not a few gentle words or a walk around the house -- will quiet her for long. She may calm down for a minute or two, but the instant I leave her she starts screaming again. This can go on for hours, and it's beginning to wear me out. Ray and Jamie usually sleep right through it all, but she's getting me out of bed three or four times a night and it's starting to take a toll on me.

This morning she didn't wake up until 10:30 a.m. I didn't try to wake her up: after a night of thrashing and screaming, I figured she could probably use the rest. I know I could.

Note from Terri to Ray:

"Honey -
Are we going over to see Patty & John tonight? (Today is John's birthday)."

(Next morning: No answer at all! Not even an "mmmph.")

August 27, 1984
Monday morning

Woke up this morning to a delightful surprise ... RAIN!  Not just a few clouds, either, but real, honest-to-goodness rain, the torrential, gloomy, altogether lovely kind usually reserved for autumn. The house is chilly: the girls are both in warm sweaters and pants, for the first time in months. I'm still wearing my light-weight nightgown, enjoying the unaccustomed coolness on my bare shoulders. This is my kind of weather!

Little things running through my head this morning.  Which neighbor can I borrow laundry soap from today? Should I make a crockpot of vegetable soup for dinner? How do you freeze zucchini? The house isn't too messy today ... just the bedrooms and the dishes.

We had a pleasant (but broke) weekend. I took the car on Saturday, and the girls and I drove down to visit both of my grandmothers. It felt marvelous to drive again -- to get out of the house for the whole day -- to do anything I wanted to do. Neither of my grandmothers had seen the girls in months, since before Kacie was walking, and they were delighted to see us. We visited Grandma Vert first. The girls ran around in the big backyard, while I took pictures of them and chatted with Gram. (Dad stopped by for awhile, too.)

Jamie in front of my childhood home

The girls standing next to my grandfather's vegetable garden.

One of my favorite all-time pics of the girls ... standing outside
their Great-Grandma's patio door after a romp in the backyard.
Summer 1984

Afterwards, we drove over to Grandma St. John's, where we stayed for about an hour. Grandma's neighbor, Donelda (a girl I went to high school with, now married and expecting her first baby next month) came over to chat. It's been ages since I've seen anyone from school, and although Donelda and I were never exactly friends, it was a nice chance to catch up on a little gossip.


The girls visit  with their Great-Grandma St. John (with varying degrees of enthusiasm)
Summer 1984

Sunday was a lazy day spent at home. Ray's sister Patty arrived from Tucson last night around 7:30 or so, but it was too late to drag the kids over for a visit.

August 28, 1984
Tuesday afternoon

The rain is gone today, but it's still cool. Maybe the worst of summer is over? (Do I dare hope??)

I feel very far-away and "disconnected" from things today. I can't seem to concentrate on anything for very long. Yesterday was productive, though. I made a huge crockpot full of beef and vegetable soup ... it was wonderful, just the thing on a cold and rainy day. We had it for supper, with hard rolls and butter, and then the girls had some more for lunch today. I blanched and froze several small batches of zucchini, borrowed some detergent from the Bruffs next door and did a small laundry.

Kacie is napping. Jamie is running back and forth from our house to the Bruff's ... every few minutes she brings me a handful of moldy blue flowers or a couple of wilted dandelions. Each time, I make a huge fuss about how "beautiful" the flowers are and I put them in my nicest vase ... but the really beautiful thing is the look in my little girl's eyes as she gives them to me ...

Ray called Patty last night and got us off the hook for not being there Sunday evening when they got into town. We'll be going over for dinner on Thursday.

August 31, 1984
Friday morning

Very tired this morning ... feeling the cumulative effects of the past few days. I have no plans for today other than folding towels, keeping an eye on the monkeys and reading "Mistral's Daughter." I have earned this day of rest.

Wednesday was our third wedding anniversary. In fact, Ray and I have been together for almost four years -- October 13th is our "other" anniversary, the date that Ray brought me home with him and I never left -- but August 29th is of course the anniversary that counts. Married three years!

This year it fell on the day before payday, so we had to postpone any celebration until this weekend. On Wednesday night both of the girls fell asleep unusually early - before 7:30 p.m., both of them - so I sat out in the living room drinking white wine, taping songs off of MTV and waiting for Ray. When he finally got home, around 9 p.m., we drank beer out of the champagne glasses from our wedding. 

September 8, 1984
Saturday morning 10 a.m.

Over a week later. Saturday morning. Jamie just shouted "GOD DAM'T, SISSY!!" when Kacie slammed the kitchen door shut ... an obnoxious "new" cartoon is playing in the living room (The Chipmunks) ... a load of clothes is whirling around in the washer. It's too early to assess my mood, but I think this may be one of the better days. It will be busy, anyway. Right now I'm sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying my coffee. I cleaned out the coffeemaker with vinegar last weekend, and Ray bought some "real" coffee filters -- instead of the usual paper towels -- and the coffee is 100% improved today. Both pairs of my jeans are in the washer, so I have a good excuse to sit around in my nightgown awhile longer. Kacie is in the throes of agony at the moment ... her beloved blanky-blanky is also in the washer. She watched me put it in, and from her outraged reaction you would have thought I'd just put JAMIE in there ...

Ray had to work today but he left the car. No big thrill -- the girls and I are expected over to the folks' for one last visit with Patty, John and Gerald before they go back to Tucson. I'll be leaving the house around 2:30 and will pick up Ray at Dave's Place,  then we'll go over and spend the rest of the day at the folks'.

We were there AGAIN last Sunday for dinner. I can't believe how much time we've been required to put in at the in-laws', the past month or so. Every single weekend. I shouldn't gripe too much, though -- at least it gets us out of the house. Gerald (age one) is an absolute dumpling of a baby, the very image of Patty, a cluster of little curls at his neck, fat stubby legs. Very sweet little boy. Last Sunday, for the very first time ever, all six of the P. Family grandchildren were under the same roof: Billy (4), Jamie (2-1/2), Kacie (1-1/2), Nathan (1), Gerald (1) and Tanya (10 mos.)  Will be the same story again today ... better take my camera, because who knows when we'll all be together again.

Ray has had a very rough week emotionally. Last Friday night (Aug. 31) he came home in tears: a guy he'd worked with for ten years, a good friend, had been killed the night before in a motorcycle accident. Craig was a young guy, newly married with a four month old son. For several nights in a row Ray fell asleep crying. It hit him very hard. This weekend he seems to have snapped out of it a little, on the surface, but I know my husband, and I know what he's thinking whenever he sees a motorcycle now ...

Ray's work wouldn't give him time off to attend the funeral, which sort of added insult to injury. They also cancelled his upcoming vacation. He was planning to take a week off in October, but now it looks like he'll have to wait until November. All of this has put Ray into a real emotional slump.

September 10, 1984
Monday morning

We have been touched by death again over the weekend: on Saturday night, while we were over at the in-laws', our beloved kitten Lucy was struck by a car and killed. Through a series of mix-ups, I didn't find out about it until Sunday morning. I wept all day. Today I still feel a twinge every time I look out the window and see her empty bed. We only knew Lucy for two months, but she was a sweet and special kitty and I loved her deeply.

Poor Wendie is desolate ... she looks for her baby everywhere.

Ray buried Lucy in the back yard last night, putting a couple of new evergreen bushes on top of the grave as a sort of "living memorial."

September 12, 1984
Wednesday 9 p.m.

And today, two days later, I'm still grieving for my little calico kitten ...

With Lucy's death, our cat population has been reduced to two -- CeCe and Wendie. It feels strange not to have any kittens around at all. We want to get CeCe spayed, but I think we may allow Wendie to have one more litter. I suppose we're hoping she'll produce another special kitten like Lucy was. Maybe we'll name her "Lucy Too." It won't be the same as having Lucy back, but it might be the next-best thing.

The special thing about Lucy was the relationship she and Wendie had. Because she was the only kitten in the litter, and because she had to face almost insurmountable odds just to survive the first few days of her life, Lucy was coddled right from the start. She and Wendie were given the privilege of staying indoors, day and night, so I had plenty of opportunity to watch them up close. Wendie loved that baby the way any mother loves her firstborn. They would nuzzle and nip each other; when Lucy got out of hand, Wendie would growl and swat at her, gently but firmly. If Lucy wandered too far away, Wendie would "call" for her and the baby would come running back to Mama's side. It reminded me, for all the world, of the girls and I. It was the same kind of intimate, one-on-one interchange. I remember thinking one evening not long ago, as the two of them cuddled by the fireplace, that I should probably "enjoy this while it lasts." Lucy was getting bigger, and pretty soon it would have been time for her and Wendie to move outside permanently. Now I'm glad I appreciated them together while I had the chance.

Goodbye, Lucy. You gave me moments of joy, and I will miss you.


1. I bring a new roll of toilet paper into the bathroom while Jamie is sitting on the pot. She says, "OHHH! Daddy bought SOME. Good girl, Daddy. I'm gonna wipe my BOM!"

2. Jamie: "I wanna sit on Mama's MAP!" (lap)
Mom: "How come?"
Jamie: (grinning hugely) "Cuz I'm your GIR!"

In spite of the sadness I feel over Lucy's death, I can't help but feel generally happy this week because autumn has finally arrived. It won't be official until next week, but for all intents and purposes fall is here. The neighbor kids are back in school. Mornings are chilly -- no more open doors. The leaves on the cherry tree in the front yard are looking decidedly droopy, as though they're about to drop. No signs yet of the lovely golds and reds I adore, but there is that special, "alive" feeling I love so much in the air. Football season has begun, and the ice cream man has disappeared until next year. I've packed away the girls' swimsuits and summer clothing, and Ray tossed out the wading pool, which saw us through two summer of splashing but finally fell apart. (There will be a brand-new "swimmy pool" next year.)

September 17, 1984
Monday morning

A week later. Monday morning ... uggh. Some Mondays DO feel like "going back to work," after all ... this one does, anyway.

The house is a disaster area. It's 11 a.m. already, but the only person dressed is Kacie ... I'm still in my nightgown, and Jamie is naked (as usual). I'm not being totally lazy, however. Already this morning I've run a load of laundry and browned some ground beef for spaghetti sauce. I feel so run-down though that I don't know how I'm going to get everything else done today. Maybe a shower and some coffee will help.

Ray stayed out all night on both Thursday and Friday nights. In the meantime, I ran out of diapers and milk, and by the time he finally came home Saturday morning I was frantic with worry and rage. One night is bad enough, but TWO must surely be grounds for divorce ... or at the very least (since I don't really want a divorce) grounds for one hell of an argument. I was amazingly controlled when he came in, though. I fought back the urge to rant and rave. It wasn't easy, but I did it. I calmly asked for an explanation and an apology. He said he worked a double shift on Thursday night, and on Friday night he partied at Mike Ross' and crashed there for the night. Basically the same worn-out old excuses he always uses, but probably the truth.

Well anyway. Let's get past that part. I had big plans for Saturday, and luckily Ray was feeling compliant ... or was it guilt?! At 1:00 we left Kacie with a sitter, and Ray, Jamie and I went down to Dave's Place. After a couple of quick beers, Jamie and I hopped into the car and drove to Redmond. (Ray stayed at Dave's to watch the Huskies game.) I had $54 in my pocket, so we went to Value Village, where I bought myself seven blouses -- all but one fits -- and a lot of paperbacks. Then Jamie and I went next door and had lunch at McDonald's. Spent all but four dollars of my money.

After we picked up Ray and came home, I discovered that I had lost my purse. Ray drove back down to Dave's Place to look for it, but he couldn't find it. I was upset -- all my makeup was in that purse! (Fortunately, nothing else of consequence.) Mike Paynter came by just about then, wanting Ray to make a run with him to Seattle. Ray left, leaving me with the car and another $20. They promised to be back at 7:30.

Terry fed the kids some supper while I ran down to the drugstore and bought replacement makeup -- I spent $19.98! Two cents change!

It was actually 11 p.m. before the guys got back, but I was still awake and feeling like a party. We sat up until 4 a.m. ... great fun.

September 19, 1984
Wednesday morning

Some Things About My Children:

Kacie now eats her meals at the big table with Jamie and I ... that's because we inadvertently left her highchair over at the in-laws' a couple weeks ago. I put her on top of two phone books and she does just fine.

Jamie has a new thing she says when I get angry with her -- "You hurt my FEENS" (feelings).  She has also started saying "No way, José!" all the time, something she got from her Mama. Her use of profanity has been increasing lately, which I try to ignore completely in hopes she'll drop it.

Kacie loves to rub noses with me ... we call it "nosey-noseys."

Jamie is now both potty and bowel-trained: it's been weeks since she's messed her pants. We do still have a little problem with bed-wetting, though, at night.

Kacie has turned into an adorable little pixie, with twinkling blue eyes and an impish grin. Her shoulder-length hair is as straight and fine as my own -- she loves to have me brush it -- and I keep her bangs purposely on the short side, because of the cute elfin quality it gives her face. She mugs and prances and hops and dances ...  teasing, flirting, showing off, copying Jamie, copying me. I call her Bumblebee because she is always so busy. One minute she's climbing on top of the camphor chest to do a little jig, the next minute she's sitting in the middle of the kitchen, surrounded by all my pots and pans. She babbles constantly, in that ancient foreign language of babies; occasionally a word or two of English pops out. ("Stand UP!" I said this morning after I diapered her. "STAN!" she echoed happily.) 

She was a handful ... but a CUTE handful.
Summer/Fall 1984

I gave her a red crayon this morning and showed her how to scribble with it on a piece of paper. The crayon went directly into her mouth. "No no, Sweetie!" I said. Kacie is sensitive to criticism or reprimand; she stood stock-still for a moment, her lower lip jutting out, her whole mouth an unhappy upside-down smile, her eyes cast to the floor. I tried again to show her how to draw; once again the crayon went into her mouth. "Not in your mouth!" I said, a little more sternly. This time the lower lip wobbled as it jutted out, and she gave a hiccupy-sniffle. Finally I had to take the crayon away from her: her lips were covered with waxy red flecks. By this time, fortunately, she was too busy tearing pages out of a Penney's catalog to notice that "coloring time" was over for the day.

September 20, 1984
Thursday 11 a.m.

Yikes! Payday is a whole week away, and our cupboards are bare. The girls are having pancakes for lunch today -- not because that's what I feel like making, but because it's practically the only thing left in the cupboard, and all I have to do is add water.

"Want some pink mensin (medicine) ... for my EARS, please." Jamie P.

Pouring rain this morning. The girls have been milling around at my feet all morning, looking to me for entertainment. Oh well. I always wanted to be a camp counselor ... here's my chance.

So. How do you entertain a 2 yr. old and a one yr. old on a rainy day in September?

You make "panmakes." That's a start, anyhow! The novelty of having them for lunch has intrigued Jamie.

Oh shit. I don't have any oil. Are they going to stick to the pan? (Yes.)

Well ... while the bacon cooks and the girls content themselves with the kitties, I'll scribble a quick word. Why does rain always turn me toward my journal? And why does it make me feel so happy and content? I'll busy myself around this house all day long, happy as a clam. Yesterday I finally finished typing Kacie's pregnancy journal. Today I'll put it into a notebook and illustrate it.

September 21, 1984
Friday 10 a.m.

I've only been up for half an hour and already it's been a totally crummy day. Kacie hit her little head HARD against the base of the piano. I figured it was just a run-of-the-mill "bonk," the kind that happens a million times a day around here, so I have her a kiss and said "All better!" and went off to get her a diaper. When I came back a minute later, her forehead was covered with blood! There was a little gash about this big: º   I bandaged it and gave her a baby aspirin, but I'm wondering now if it needs a stitch. Damn the fact we have no phone ...

Then I looked out the window and saw Gretchen making her merry way down the street, dragging her rope along behind her. When I called to her she stopped for a moment, looked me directly in the eyes and then tore off down the road, as fast as she could run. That dog is nothing but a giant pain in the rear.

Today is the day Maureen will be by to collect the $4 I owe her for Avon, and of course I don't have the money.

I have four and a half cigarettes to last this entire day.

Ray has promised to be home by 9 p.m. with McDonalds for dinner. (On Fridays he gets paid for running the bookie cards.) There is no food at all in the house, so I'm counting on him to keep his promise, although I know there's every chance in the world he'll just sit down at Dave's Place and get wasted. Feeling glum over the prospect.

Jamie Lynn P. keeps demanding (in her most imperious tone) that I "Come HERE Mom," for one reason or another ... to watch the cow jump over the moon on Sesame Street, to get the spider out of the bathroom, to see why Sissy's crying again. Her bossiness is actually kind of comical, so I'm allowing her to get away with it. I need a laugh or two this morning.

Some stuff:

Kacie has discovered dolls. This morning I saw her "feeding" one with a toy baby bottle, then covering the dolly with a blanket. Jamie is extremely possessive of her toys ordinarily, but she's been generous with her dolls, allowing Kacie to "adopt" one or two of them. I also gave Kacie one of the little dolls from my childhood -- "Candy," the blonde doll in the pink nightgown -- and she has become Kacie's prized possession.

Jamie comes into my bed and sleeps with me in the mornings after Ray goes to work. Before we get up, we lay in bed and talk about what we're going to do that day. ("What else we godda do?" Jamie says happily, as I list my chores for the day, the meals we'll have, the games we'll play.)

Jamie says "I love you" now (it comes out "I wuv eyoo") in a way that would melt the hardest heart.

Kacie's favorite commercial is an ad for Windex. A man & wife are cleaning their windows when the guy says, "Sweetie ... clean your streak!" It's basically a boring commercial -- no music, even -- but for some reason Kacie is fascinated but it. She loves "Family Feud" ... it just started, as a matter of fact ... she bounces all around the room, clapping her hands. She's beginning to show some interested in Sesame Street, especially when Big Bird come on. She likes Mr. Rogers, too, and she tries to snap her fingers when he sings, "Till then, I hope your day is (snap-snap) snappy!"

September 26, 1984

A few days later. I've got laryngitis .. it just hit me yesterday. I've got Vicks Vaporub slathered all over my chest and a towel pinned around my neck ... fuzzy wool socks on my feet ... no makeup, hair pulled back into a frumpy ponytail ... I look really LOVELY. I long to go to bed and sleep the rest of this day away, but it's out of the question, of course.

I won't know until next week, or the week after, if I'm pregnant again, but the idea has been ticking away in the back of my mind.

October 1, 1984
Monday afternoon

I'm sorry to report this, but the Western Kraft picnic this year (held on Sunday at Lake Sammamish, as usual) was a fiasco. Last year & the year before were so much fun, but this year it was just awful. I couldn't wait to go home! I've had the flu & laryngitis all week, and although my fever was gone by Sunday, I was still hacking away with an irritating cough. It got quite hot later in the afternoon, and I felt sticky, uncomfortable and grouchy. Ray and I sat at a picnic table with the girls, and I talked to very few people: I felt shy and reserved. Plus my cold made me miserable, so I just sat there alone, feeling terrible. I lost my sunglasses early in the afternoon and had to squint for the rest of the day. I drank a few beers, but the combination of hot sun, alcohol and coughing gave me the worst headache I've ever had in my whole life. For the last hour & a half of the picnic I could barely move; I felt like my brain was going to explode. Ray was exasperated with me. He said, "What's the matter, you having a stroke or what?" His complete lack of sympathy did me in. When we got home he went straight to bed, leaving me the ordeal of getting the kids undressed and into bed. I took some extra-strength aspirin, but by then the headache was so fierce, I was seeing stars. Somehow I managed to get everything done and collapse into bed, but then I realized I was starving ... I'd skipped dinner at the picnic because I had no appetite. Ray and the girls were asleep, so I cooked a TV dinner, watched a good movie on TV ("Heartsounds" with James Garner and Mary Tyler Moore) and read the Sunday paper. The headache was a little better by midnight, but my cough kept me awake all night. I didn't want to keep everybody awake with my coughing so I slept on the sofa. Actually, "slept" isn't the word ... I tossed and turned. I slept maybe five minutes altogether. I took twice as much cough syrup as the label recommended, but it didn't help. Whenever I got really restless, I would turn on the light and read for a while ("The Shoemaker" by Flora Rheta Schreiber, the biography of a serial killer). Finally this morning when Ray left for work I crawled into my own bed and got a couple hours of sleep.

Jamie digging for pennies at the annual company picnic

Back to the picnic. Jamie had a good time this year and was reasonably well-behaved. She played with some of the other little kids, and politely requested that I take her to the bathroom whenever necessary. We'd been talking about "the picnic" all week, and she was so excited about being there. Kacie, on the other hand, was a holy terror. By the end of the picnic I'd completely lost patience with her. Nothing she did was so terrible, really ... she wandered away at least once every five minutes, she climbed onto other peoples' picnic tables, knocking over drinks and helping herself to food, she layed down with her blanket in the mud and rolled around, she ate brown popcorn she found in the dirt, she grabbed toys away from other children, she chased after a dog that was big enough to bite her in half, she threw her whole plate of dinner on the ground. I tried to relax and let her have fun, but it was impossible. One minute she would be doing a merry little dance in the grassy field, and I would be watching her with great pleasure: the next minute she would squat down and begin stuffing broken peanut shells into her mouth. Then I'd be the Nazi Mama again, barking at her to "Get back to this table!" She takes any harsh words so personally; by the end of the day her high spirits had been pretty effectively squashed.

There was one moment that was especially bad. I can't get it out of my head. Kacie was prancing around in the field, several yards from our table. I was keeping an eye on her, prepared to dash after her if she wandered off. She twirled and jumped and kicked up her heels. As I watched her - pigtails flying, Osh Kosh overalls covered with dirt and peanut shells, cheeks rosy, eyes bright - I was filled with a very tender, amused love for my little daughter. There were two hundred people at that picnic, but for the moment the universe was composed of Kacie and I.

That's when it happened. All of a sudden there was a boy standing in front of her, maybe twelve years old or so, wearing a yellow hat and kicking a volleyball around in the grass. Without even thinking about it, I leapt off my seat at the picnic table and ran towards Kacie. I don't know what I was thinking: I suppose I was afraid this big brute was going to hurt my baby. It was pure instinct. The boy leaned down with a smile and handed the ball to Kacie, and she smiled back at him. It all happened in the blink of an eye, and by the time I realized how harmless the situation was I was already on the two of them. The boy saw me coming, grabbed his volleyball away from Kacie and shuffled off, looking embarrassed. Kacie watched him walk away, bewildered. I took her in my arms and carried her back to the picnic table. She soon forgot all about the boy in the yellow hat, but I couldn't forget it. I couldn't push the image from my mind: Kacie's sweet expression of trust and delight when the boy handed her the ball, and her two or three seconds of happiness before I came charging onto the scene like an enraged rhino. It made me feel sad and stupid ... like one of those people who pop little kids' balloons, just for fun ...

Realistically, I know that Kacie won't even remember this day. Even if she did, I doubt that she would read much into it. I imagine there will be lots of boys in yellow hats in her life, and that this won't be the last time Mama spoils her fun. Still, whenever I think about those two minutes at the picnic, I wish I could do it all over. I wouldn't budge from that picnic bench: I would let Kacie have her moment with the boy in the yellow hat.

October 2, 1984
Tuesday a.m.

I got halfway through the day yesterday before I realized that it was the first of October. Then I had to check the date on the newspaper because I didn't quite believe it. October! Already! My second-favorite month, second only to December ... cool, beautiful October, when autumn really begins to feel like autumn. The leaves are starting to turn color, just the slightest bit. Last night we had spaghetti (from frozen leftover sauce -- it always tastes better the second time), and I drank some rosé wine, and everything just seemed to taste "autumny." That sounds goofy, I know, but it's true. Certain tastes evoke a sense of the season. Cranberries and hot chocolate are winter tastes. Also pumpkin pie, candy canes, bread stuffing, oatmeal with brown sugar. What is spring? New potatoes and peas in white cream sauce, the way Grandma used to make. Or maybe that's more summer.

October 3, 1984

Ray didn't come home last night. I ran out of milk yesterday afternoon, and Kacie has only one clean diaper left. I'm angry, surprised -- this rarely happens on a weeknight -- and worried. How will we get through this day? I suppose I'll have to go knocking on neighbors' doors again this morning, asking to borrow the stuff I need. Humiliating.

Ray has been doing this more and more often lately, and I'm beginning to lose patience. It's a cyclical thing: months will go by and he'll be very conscientious about coming home every night, and then BOOM, all of a sudden he's staying out all night again. His excuses are usually always in the same vein ... he "had too much to drink" and he slept on the sofa at Mike Ross' or Mike Paynter's apartments.

If I didn't know him better I might suspect him of having an affair. But I can honestly say I don't think this is the case. The problem is substance abuse, pure and simple.

But I don't even feel like writing about it now. It would just be a boring rehash of the same old stuff I've written a million times. I'm going to be doing some thinking about it today, as I clean house and do laundry. If I come up with any brilliant observations, I'll share them with you at the end of the day.

I've been sick for a week now. Last night I had another attack of fever & chills, but some aspirin and an OK night's sleep (no Ray snoring beside me) helped chase it away. My chest feels like it's full of mud this morning and my cough shows no sign of abating,

My period is two days late now.

4:30 p.m.

Ray came waltzing in at noon today, so the milk and diaper situation has been taken care of. His excuse (and I quote) was: "I crashed at Paynter's." No apologies, no further explanation. He immediately went to bed and slept for four hours, while I cleaned house and did laundry. Now he's off again, meeting with some guy to buy life insurance (he said).

October 4, 1984

Stung by a bee last night, left index finger -- that's twice this year.

October 5, 1984

Woke up with a sore throat this morning. On the verge of tears, for no obvious reason ... I'm just so damned tired of being sick! The cough, the fever, the swollen finger (from the bee sting), the constant fatigue, now a sore throat ... it's just too much. I haven't felt like my normal self in almost two weeks.

(" I 'have go poo-poo, everybody." Jamie P.)

The house is just falling apart around me because I haven't had the energy to do my work. I've been taking naps in the afternoon while the girls sleep, hoping to get "caught up" physically, but instead it just makes me sleepier for the rest of the day. I'm a mess, too. My hair is dull and stringy, my face is pale. I look like a ghoul but I just don't feel energetic enough to do anything about it.

Jamie sits on the floor with a tin canister of Duplo building blocks and begins to build a "car." Kacie watches her from across the room for a while. What interesting games Jamie comes up with!  Beaming, she toddles over and sits on the floor next to Jamie, giving her big sister a sunny smile. "NNN! AAAH-AH-AH!" Kacie sings pleasantly, reaching into the can for a Duplo.

"NO!" Jamie says sharply, yanking it away from Kacie.

Kacie's good humor will not be squelched. She jumps up and grabs a pair of plastic spoons, which Jamie had abandoned earlier. Gleefully mouthing the spoons, Kacie wanders around the living room, humming. She watches some TV commercials, climbs up on the camphor chest, waves the spoons at Mom. Then, leaving the spoons on the camphor chest for a moment, she wanders back to Jamie, who has been surreptitiously watching Kacie's every move the past few minutes.

Jamie has taken her Duplo "car" apart and has put the blocks back into the can. She dashes over to the camphor chest, grabs the momentarily unattended spoons, and dumps them into the can with the Duplos.

Now she has all the toys.

Dismayed, Kacie tries to reclaim the spoons. Jamie shoves her away and says, "NO."

At this point I decide to intercede. "Hey!" I say to Jamie. "You give her those spoons back right now." Jamie casts me a baleful look. Then, without meeting Kacie's eye, she hands her one spoon  ... very grudgingly ... 

Partners in crime

My period is now five days late, but that's one thing I'm not going to sit here and stew about this morning. I know I'm pregnant. I think I've known it for weeks now, since the morning after we conceived. I feel neither one way nor another about it at the moment, neither up nor down. The knowledge is simply THERE ... a little kernel of awareness tucked away inside, just below the surface. I get caught up in day-to-day concerns and rarely even think about being pregnant. When I do think about it, my ambivalence is a blessing. If I allowed myself to think about it, I could probably work myself into a real depression. Or maybe not. But the point is that I've put all thoughts on the subject on temporary hold.

Besides. This third pregnancy has very little mystery surrounding it. I already know my due date: June 10. And I already have the names picked out: Kimberley Jeanne or Brett Edward.

October 6, 1984
Saturday night

Angry and disgusted with Ray. He is getting worse and worse and worse.

October 8, 1984
Monday 5:45 p.m.

God, these have been a crummy couple of weeks. I have now been sick for TWO WEEKS. My cold, the chest congestion and the hacking cough, are just as


October 15, 1984
Monday morning

Another week later. I never did get a chance to finish what I was writing, about being sick. That's just as well. Here it is another week later, and yes ... I am STILL SICK. Three weeks now. Amazing. The painful chest congestion and accompanying symptoms have all deteriorated now into a sloppy wet cold, the annoying kind that leaves your nose raw from blowing and your eyes bleary from coughing all night. Sounds like great fun, doesn't it? Aside from the fact that I'm just plain sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, it's also ruining October for me. Last year financial problems made October a nightmare: this year, it's a chest full of sludge and an aching head. The leaves have turned, all around town ... the brilliant scarlets and oranges I love so much. The nights are crisp and cold. I should be enjoying it, but instead I just want to curl up on the sofa day after day with the drapes closed and sleep. The house still has a forlorn, neglected look about it ... the same toys laying in the same spot on the floor for five days running ...

The good news is that I'm not pregnant after all. My period started on Friday, much to my astonishment (and relief!). The other good news is that Ray is "back" ... the Ray we know and love, that is. The horrible, crabby, never-home monster we've had to put up with lately has disappeared for awhile -- hopefully for good. Ray was kind and attentive all week last week. He was home at a fairly decent hour every night, and he spent a lot of time with the monkeys. Thursday night he took me out grocery-shopping; Friday night we went to Dave's Place.

Kacie has had occasional diarrhea - and constant diaper rash - for a week now. Wish we'd paid the pediatrician.

October 19, 1984

Friday night, late. Ray is still out: who knows when he'll be home? Pizza in the oven. Rosé wine. Bouquet of chrysanthemums on the table in front of me, yellow, purple and yellow/red mixed. Jamie refuses to go to bed and is perched, pixie-like, on the table next to the flowers. Earlier tonight she took one of my eyebrow pencils and drew herself a pair of false eyebrows, above her real ones: it gives her face a weird Kabuki appearance.

October 26, 1984
Friday morning 10:30

I've been looking forward to this day for two weeks. Ray is taking me out tonight at 6:30, and then afterwards we're going to have a late-night party here at the house. Terry is going to watch the girls. I was so excited last night, I barely got any sleep at all: this morning I'm exhausted. Must try and wake up ... there are a zillion things to be done. I want the house to look good, and if at all possible I want to look good, too. (I'm going to trim my hair a little bit and set it carefully with the new styling mousse I bought last night; I'm going to do a slow, meticulous job of putting on my makeup.)

October 29, 1984
Monday 4:30 p.m.

Depressed ... but not terminally. I'm often blue on Mondays, because the weekend is over. The depression never lasts more than a day or two.

Friday night was OK. Not great -- just OK. Our "party" turned out to be just Mike Ross, who has never exactly been one of my favorite people. Some girl named Liz was here for a little while too -- a friend of Mike's -- but she didn't stay long. Towards the end of the evening I made a total ass out of myself in front of Mike. I won't say how -- I feel cruddy enough about it as it is, without recording it here for posterity. Suffice it to say that I was too high. I've been feeling sick and embarrassed about it all weekend, and the feeling lingers today.

I would give anything for a cigarette.

November 1, 1984

I don't know why I'm finding it so difficult to write in this journal. The last month has been especially bad. Things happen in my life that I want to write about -- Jamie and Kacie grow and change with each passing day, and I long to record the changes, to read and enjoy in years to come -- but actually picking up a pen and WRITING is so hard to do! I feel guilty about it, too ... as though a unique, special part of my life is slipping past me and there will be no record of it.

October was awful. I was sick for four weeks, altogether. I couldn't get anything done at all. Not only did I let my journal-writing slip, but other things fell by the wayside as well. The house fell apart, and I felt so crummy that I all but neglected the girls. Ray and I had a rash of problems, and he retaliated by staying away from home as much as possible. Even little things, like writing to my pen pals or putting on makeup, just became too much of an effort in October.

Today is the first of November, though, and I'm determined to make a fresh start. October is over; now I'm back to my old self. I've still got a shadow of a cough, but for the most part I feel healthier and better than I have in weeks. One of my first priorities this month will be to resume writing in my journal on a regular basis ... daily, if possible. I want to write a little bit about my monkeys, every single day. They're so impossibly cute these days.

Wild storm outside today. The girls and I are sitting here on the sofa -- they've both got their blankies & ba-ba's, I've got an excellent cup of coffee (the first pot from a new can). "All My Children" has just come on, punctuated occasionally by commercials for toys, fruit drinks, toys, cold medicine, laundry products, toys, toothpaste, more toys. Every time a toy commercial comes on, Jamie says (very smugly), "Santa Claus gonna bring me one of dose!"

Kacie has a runny nose this morning, and a faint rattling in her chest. I'm praying she doesn't get bronchitis again.

Last night was Halloween ... clear, very cold ... it even snowed night before last, and certainly felt cold enough last night to do it again. Rick Bruff stayed here with Kacie for half an hour while I took Jamie trick-or-treating around the block. She wore her red & white striped "Garfield" pajamas, a funny paper hat from last New Year's Eve and clown makeup. She made an adorable little clown, and elicited all kinds of admiring compliments from the neighbors.

Jamie in her "clown" costume
(Note the ever-present half-case of Rainier Beer on the kitchen counter)
October 1984

I would have loved to have taken Kacie, too, but her runny nose had me worried. I thought it was best not to drag her out into the cold night air. As it was, Jamie had two sets of clothes on under her costume, and she was still cold. (When we got home and I wiped the clown makeup off her face, under the artificial red nose was a REAL red nose, frozen from the night air.)

We left the makeup & costume on long enough for Ray to see -- he got home about ten minutes after we finished trick or treating. Jamie met him at the door, and when he saw her funny little clown face he scooped her up in his arms and roared with laughter. His enthusiastic response delighted her.

Jamie almost burned down the house last night. A few days ago Kacie tore the lampshade off Jamie's bedroom lamp, leaving only a bare bulb sticking out of the base of the lamp. Last night Jamie draped three of her shirts over the bulb, apparently in an attempt to dim the light. I smelled smoke and walked into Jamie's room just in time to see the shirts beginning to smolder.

November 4, 1984
Sunday morning

Sunday morning: the girls have discovered an old Shirley Temple movie on TV and are stuck in front of the tube, munching on graham crackers and drinking Kool-Aid. (But not for long. Even as I write, they have dashed off down the hallway and discovered their sleeping Daddy: Kacie is screaming "DAAA!" at the top of her lungs.)

November 5, 1984
Monday morning

Twenty-four hours later: I'll try to pick up the thread. We had a pleasant and busy weekend. Compared to the way I felt a week ago - last Monday morning - life seems a hundred times brighter. The house is a post-weekend disaster, it's nearly noon and I still haven't showered, and the girls are showing signs of being crabbier than usual ... no one slept very well last night. Still, in spite of it all, I feel quite light-hearted and nonplussed by all the usual Monday morning turmoil. The sun is shining and it's a beautiful autumn day. I'm going to clean my house from top to bottom -- put some new pictures on the girls' walls -- make teriyaki chicken for dinner -- and try to spend some time with my children. Not an altogether unpleasant way to spend a day.

Ray took me out on Friday night, and then on Saturday the four of us drove out to Don Jr. and Judy's for dinner. Sunday was spent quietly at home. Ray fixed the bathroom sink and watched the Seahawks game, I took the day off from housework and curled up with a good science fiction book ("The Anything Box," Zenna Henderson).


Jamie curled up on my lap a few minutes ago and plaintively said "I tired, Mama." It's only 9:00 but I tucked her into my bed ("Kate & Allie" is on - she and I both love this show), and told her she could snuggle there until Daddy gets home.

Busy day! The house is sparkling. I even cleaned the refrigerator (a disgusting job) and did Jamie's room (even more disgusting).

November 12, 1984
Monday morning

Well, so much for "writing a little bit every single day." My good intentions have proven to be merely that -- intentions. But I'm not giving up yet!

Excellent weekend. Ray had Friday off. We took the girls to Albertsons and did a fairly large grocery-shopping, Jamie in one shopping cart, Kacie following behind in another. (What a sight! We were a regular caravan.) Friday night Ray and I went to the tavern, as usual, while Mike Bruff babysat.

Saturday afternoon we went to Sheryl & Jeff's to help celebrate Tanya's first birthday, with cake and presents and family. The folks wanted us to come over afterwards for hamburgers, but we were tired and Kacie wasn't feeling well. Instead, we spent the evening in front of the fireplace, eating take-out Chinese and drinking hot spiced wine. Very pleasant and relaxing.

Yesterday Mom dropped in for a two hour visit. She brought each of the girls a new stuffed toy (a monkey for Kacie, a raccoon for Jamie) and a big box of old books for me. We visited over coffee and caught each other up on family news. Debi is living with a nice family near Sea Tac for awhile to try and pull her life together; she's back in high school, too. My brother's girlfriend Gina is pregnant. Mom says she went by their place to visit and the pregnancy was "obvious." My reactions to THAT little piece of news were mixed: pleased surprise that I will finally be a "real" aunt, by blood instead of marriage, and also some concern. Mom says that Gina is emotionally unstable, and I wonder how Dick is feeling about all of this.

5:30 p.m.

Pitch dark outside. The days are so short this time of year. I'm so sleepy I can hardly keep my eyes open -- it's Day Two of my period and I feel at low tide -- I made myself a cup of coffee in hopes it'll help me spring back to life.

The girls just had spaghetti and broccoli for supper, and then I popped them both into the tub. Jamie got into my makeup pencils again this afternoon and drew blue and gray lines around both of her eyes; a little cold cream and a vigorous scrubbing with a warm washcloth removed most of it. They screamed in misery when I shampooed their sticky hair -- and again, later, when I trimmed their bangs -- but now they are clean and dry and p.j.'d, and they've got cold milk in their bottles & are snuggled up with their blankys. This is one of the nicer parts of the day ... things are beginning to wind down, the girls are starting to get sleepy. There will be one or two more major blasts of noise and mayhem, probably, before they finally call it a night ... they'll go off and play in Kacie's room, perhaps, and the next thing I know they'll be battling over toys, letting out a series of blood-curdling screams, beaning each other over the heads with baby dolls ...

November 19, 1984
Monday noon

"Somebody's gotta go to Gramma's HOUSE, Ha Ha Ha! Dat's very, very funny! Dere's your WILLIE BEAR, Sis-see. No! NO! Sis-see's bear's crying. Leave those alone! What else dat can hurt me? OW!" -- Jamie P. --

A week later. The house is a mess but I just can't seem to get started cleaning yet. For some reason I feel "Christmasey" this morning, and it makes me want to get STARTED on SOMETHING!! Making lists, cookies, gifts, plans, etc.

November 20, 1984

Jamie (holding up one finger): "I can push ONE chair an' get ONE drinka water. Cuz I'm very firsty. OKAY Mom."

November 20, 1984

Today the place looks even worse, and I STILL haven't gotten around to cleaning.

Jamie is a real clown this morning. (Mt. Rushmore T-shirt, rosebud underpants, blue ankle socks ... I have no idea what happened to the blue pants she was wearing a little while ago.) "Mom-mee. Wook at ME!" she says impatiently. She's bending over with her rear in the air and is peering at me from between her legs.

"DERE! Dat movie's ALL DONE, my Tom & Jerry's gonna come on." (Her beloved Tom & Jerry cartoons, Channel 11, 3 p.m.)

Every year as the holidays approached, I would write myself a quick note and put it in the box of Christmas decorations, to be opened and read the following year.  This is my letter for 1984, written a bit earlier in the season than usual.

November 20, 1984

Jamie, Kacie and I are sitting in the living room this morning, enjoying our usual morning routine ... coffee for Mom, juice for the girls, "Sesame Street" for everybody ... when suddenly a big UPS truck stops in front of our house and drops off a package for us! Amidst much excitement we open the package and find the Christmas ornaments I ordered from a magazine ad, a few weeks ago -- little painted wooden ornaments, thirty of them altogether, for $6.95 -- all kinds of Santas, funny little animals, birds, angels ... even a tiny airplane for Kacie (She Who Loves Things That Fly in the Sky), and a baby in a cradle for Jamie (The Little Mommy).

Jamie, who is one month shy of her third birthday, and Kacie, who at twenty months is becoming a person in her own right, carefully examine each ornament in turn, exclaiming with delight at each pretty discovery. Jamie has promised me that she will "help" me put our ornaments on the tree when we get it. She is living in a state of happy anticipation these days, looking forward to Christmas for the very first time in her life. 

Kacie mouths each of the ornaments, holding up the red bell to me and saying "Ehhh!" (Maybe that means it passed her not-so-stringent taste test ... ?)

I love both of my girls with my whole heart. This year, they will decorate my Christmas.

Terri Vert Polen

November 25, 1984

My idea of an ideal Sunday afternoon:

* Tidy house
* Big fire in the fireplace
* Beef stew, simmering in the crockpot
* My favorite movie of all time, "King of Kings" on the tube
* Jamie in a delightfully friendly mood
* Kacie napping
* Ray grocery-shopping
* December less than a week away!
* A cold beer and the Sunday paper!

Mom: (looking at Jamie, who is eating an apple using a toy hammer as a "spoon") "And God bless Jamie, best of all!"

Jamie (mouth full of apple): "Amen."

November 26, 1984
Monday 6 p.m.

Well, it was an "ideal Sunday afternoon" until about 7 p.m., when a bath towel somehow or another wound up in the fireplace ... the next thing I knew, our house was filled with City of Kirkland fire fighters!! I'm not kidding. While Ray was at the store getting whipping cream and I was in the kitchen making salad, "somebody" -- I'm not saying who because I don't really know for sure -- put a large white bath towel into the fire. By the time I smelled it burning, the towel and the small area rug in front of the fireplace were burning away quite merrily. Amazingly, I didn't panic. I grabbed a pitcher of ice water from the fridge and dumped it on the fire, dousing most of it. Then I tucked the kids under my arms and carried them, in my bare feet, next door to the Bruff's house. Mrs. Kennedy call the fire department for me, and within five minutes the fire fighters were at our house, lights flashing and sirens wailing. I watched them from the Bruff's house; the girls stood on the sofa and looked out the window in astonishment.

The damage was very slight -- just one big burn hole in front of the fireplace. Ray was upset, angry with ME a little, I think, for not being right there when the towel got thrown into the fire (instead of IRRESPONSIBLY making SALAD in the KITCHEN.) He was also extremely uncomfortable around the firemen. He doesn't deal with "authority figures" very well ... policemen, doctors, lawyers, firemen, librarians ... they make him nervous. In this case he was nervous because the fireplace is so old & decrepit, and here were all these firemen, going over everything with a fine tooth comb. They gave us strict instructions not to use the fireplace AT ALL until it's up to code. My heart sank when I heard that: not because I'll miss the fires, but because I know Ray will completely ignore the warning and will use the fireplace anyway, in spite of my protestations. That means I'll be nervously watching out the window every night for firemen to show up and fine us. Any minute I'll be expecting someone to come pounding on the door shouting "You in there! Douse that fire and come out with your HANDS UP ... !"

Ray's supposed to be home early tonight. It's 6:30 now, pitch-dark outside; the kitchen smells like blueberry muffins. We've got a couple of top sirloin steaks in the fridge for dinner, and "Testament" is on TV at 10 p.m., on PBS. The girls are sitting in front of the TV watching "Diff'rent Strokes" and tickling each other.

Now they're bathed -- this was a "wash hair night," which of course they both hated -- and we're settled in front of the TV with my beloved "Entertainment Tonight." Ray isn't home yet. All of a sudden the wind outside has picked up; I went to the carport a little while ago to pick out some potatoes for dinner, and I could feel the storm brewing all around me. Winter is here ... perhaps not officially, but in every other way that counts. The autumn leaves are gone; it is always bone-chillingly cold outside, all the time - even when the sun is shining. Thanksgiving has passed and the Christmas season has begun, on TV anyway. I have yet to hear my first Christmas song on the radio, but there is an onslaught of holiday commercials on the tube, mostly for toys.

Jamie has fallen asleep here on the sofa next to me ... covered up with my big afghan ... green "owl" bottle hanging out of her mouth. She looks so sweet and comfortable. Kacie is prancing around the house in damp pigtails, pink p.j.'s and striped socks - she INSISTED on the socks, even though her p.j.'s already have "feet" on them. So I just put the socks on right over the "feet."

9 p.m.

Still no Ray. Starting to think about cooking the steaks myself - getting tired of waiting for Ray to come home and do it. During the past four years I've become a more-than-passable cook, but there are still a few things I leave strictly to Ray ... pancakes, omelets, turkey ... and steak. I have a tendency to take a perfectly good cut of meat and reduce it to the consistency of shoe leather. So I always let Ray take charge of the steaks. Besides - don't tell him this because I don't think he realizes what I'm going - it gives his ego a little stroking (he just pulled in) when I make a big fuss over his cooking. It makes him feel like the resident expert in the cooking/barbecuing department. Doesn't everybody like to feel like an expert at something?


* Making scrapbooks
* Getting spaghetti stains out of children's clothing
* Cooking meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, homemade french fries and fried chicken
* Catching colds
* Applying liquid eyeliner
* Trimming Christmas trees
* Making pointless lists of stuff

I don't seem to have written anything about Thanksgiving this year,
but this is a pic of Kacie and me taken at the in-laws' house
on Thanksgiving Day 1984

November 27, 1984
Tuesday noon

Another wild, stormy day. Winds last night got up to 60 mph -- I kept thinking about what we would do if a tree blew over and crashed through a window (which actually happened to Don Jr. and Judy last year!), but Ray assured me that the chances of such a thing happening were very small. It would be far more possible, he said, for us to lose our electricity (and heat) during the storm. 

But fortunately that never happened, either. Today the wind has subsided a little, but that prickly "electric" feeling lingers in the air, and the rain continues to fall steadily.
Dinner last night was just fine. I started to watch "Testament" on PBS -- the story of a family after nuclear war -- but it began to upset me too much, so I just went to bed with a couple of magazines and Ray brought me dinner on a tray. I feel like a coward, giving up on the movie before it was even half over, but it took me so long to get over "The Day After" last year that I just couldn't bear to go through that all over again. Things like that - scary movies, upsetting stories in the newspaper, etc. - stick with me for weeks and weeks, leaving me feeling hopeless and sad. "Testament" is said to be a very fine movie, but I just didn't have the courage to see it through to the end.

Jamie is STILL talking about the fire the other night. "Last NIGHT Sissy 'most burn our house down jus an ACCIDENT gonna tell dose FIREmans ... "

Ray brought home a Presto Log last night but -- to my relief -- didn't attempt to make a fire. "Only if the power goes out," he said. Whew.

Mom (peeling potatoes): "Yuck - these potatoes are all ROTTEN!"
Jamie (standing on kitchen counter, rummaging through cupboards): "ROCKIN? I don't LIKE Rockin ... ROLL. Ha ha."

November 28, 1984
Wednesday 2 p.m.

Ray didn't come home last night until well past midnight -- I was asleep when he got here, so I don't know exactly what time it was. I was so angry with him today that I "cheated" and listened to my Christmas tapes three days early.

November 29, 1984
Thursday evening

Took the girls to Sears this afternoon to have their picture taken ... what a hassle! Sure coulda used an extra pair of arms to handle wiggly Kacie and exuberant Jamie Lynn ... !

I can't even begin to guess how the pictures turned out -- they won't be ready until Dec. 18. I don't think they both smiled at the same time, though. The whole procedure seemed to make them tense and uncomfortable: sitting on a table in a studio, having a strange lady telling them to "sit up big and SMILE!" ... Jamie was frozen, and Kacie wouldn't sit still for NOTHIN' or NOBODY.

After the ordeal at Sears, I treated the three of us to lunch at Burger King. I was very limited moneywise, so we split two small burgers and an order of fries, but that was more than enough for everybody.

Ray is home weirdly early this evening ... he was here at 4:00! Mike Paynter dropped him off. That's the good news. The bad news is that he's got a huge fire going in the fireplace, in spite of protests from me and from Terry S.  I can't relax & "enjoy" it at all.

Jamie Lynn and Kacie Pauline

December 1, 1984
Saturday 9:30 a.m.

First day of December ... hurray. Wish I were feeling more festive. As it is, I've got a hectic day ahead of me and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. We're having a birthday dinner over at the in-laws' house today, to celebrate the combined birthdays of Judy (Nov. 27), Don Sr. (today) and Jamie (Dec. 9). I don't know if they're including me (Dec. 15) -- but then again I don't care.

I'm a little nervous about this day. Ray and his brother are in the middle of another ugly feud -- this one over the football cards -- and I know there's going to be a lot of tension in the air, particularly if Judy or the folks get involved in it. (I am very pointedly staying out of the whole mess.)

On a smaller scale, I'm worried about my birthday gift to Don Sr.  While Sheryl will doubtless be giving him something lovely and expensive, I'm giving him homemade "cookie dough" Christmas ornaments, six of them, handpainted & bearing pictures of each of his six grandchildren. I worked on them all day yesterday, and in the evening Terry came over and helped me paint them. I have mixed feelings about the whole idea. One minute I think they're quite beautiful and unique and I can't wait to give them to him; the next minute they strike me as crude and tacky, a last-minute sort of gift. We're very low on money this week and I just couldn't afford to buy him anything.

December 5, 1984
Wednesday morning 10:30

A few days later. I'm feeling pretty good this morning -- I've already cleaned the kitchen and made breakfast for the girls -- it's a cold and frosty morning, although the sun is shining -- very pretty outside.

I'm still trying to work myself into a "holiday" mood. I guess it's still too early in the month, though. I've gotten out all the Christmas decorations and I spent two hours yesterday, putting them up all over the house. (Wish I had a TREE.) There are two red stockings hanging from the stereo, with "Jamie" and "Kacie" spelled out on them in black construction paper letters. The Styrofoam snow-people (Mr. and Mrs. Frosty) are on top of the canisters by the coffeepot this year, to keep them out of Kacie's reach, and all of the other decorations are similarly placed so as to be "out of danger." Kacie woke up from her nap yesterday and immediately noticed all of the new "holiday pretties" ... she pointed at each one in turn, babbling excitedly. She loves the Christmas carolers on top of my desk the best: if she could, she would have them on the floor and in pieces so quick it would make your head spin! I delight in her enthusiasm, but I'm keeping a close eye on her, to ensure the safety of my treasured Christmas things.

The birthday party on Saturday was just fine ... no problems at all. As a matter of fact, it was remarkably pleasant! Ray and Don Jr. went out for a few beers with their dad, and although there is still some trouble with the football cards, it doesn't seem to be a problem between the two of them personally.

My homemade ornaments appeared to be a big success. I was even embarrassed over the fuss that was made! -- but relieved also.

Jamie blew out the candles on the cake that day and opened her gifts: a gorgeous nubby sweater and corduroy pants from Peg & Don, lacy underwear from Sheryl, and a "Sesame Street Yearbook" from Judy. (She got a couple of other Sesame Street storybooks, but in the general confusion of gift-opening, I missed who they were from. Barbara, maybe?) My birthday was also observed - I was a little surprised, but pleased. Barbara gave me a "Frosty The Snowman" candle (too pretty to burn!) and Sheryl gave me a basket filled with soaps and bath stuff. The best gift of all was from Peg  -  a soft, brushed nightgown of robin's egg blue, the prettiest nightgown I've had in a long time. I practically lived in it for the rest of the weekend.

Ben and Lori next door had their baby on Monday morning at 2 a.m., a little girl named Katherine ("Katy") Lee. Chris and Charlie came over yesterday morning to tell me the news. I've got a "new baby" card for them, and I've promised to loan Lori some baby clothes. She and I have always been friendly, although no more than that: we're both too shy and too busy with our kids to begin a real friendship. Maybe that will change. I would dearly love to have a close female friend, but I've never been one to make the first move.

I'm starting to worry about Christmas shopping. Where will the money come from? The same worry I have every year at this time. I haven't even made a DENT in my shopping yet. I haven't started my Christmas cards yet, either, and I'm getting the teensiest bit panicky about everything, even though I know from experience that it all gets done in time for Christmas. I'll just feel better when I have some money in my hands.

Got a letter from Mom yesterday (she and Gram St. John will be here on Sunday for Jay's birthday party -- good). Here are a couple of excerpts from her letter, dtd. 12-1-84:

" ... I enjoyed your letter - I always do. Actually, except for the fact that there are times when it's really inconvenient, in a way I'm glad you don't have a phone. Your letters are so entertaining!"

" ... Grandma DeGrasse's journals have been in the bottom drawer of Mom's dresser for years. I'll bring the age 15 diary with me on the 9th ... I want you to know what's in it, and what a really special bunch of ladies our forebears were! They left us a legacy of love for the written word, fantasy and life in general I think it's important for us to know about ... "

The journals she mentions were written by my great-grandmother, Pauline Lambe DeGrasse (for whom Kacie was named) -- and until a week ago, I didn't even know they existed. I'm very excited about the journals, and very anxious to read them. Ever since Christmas 1981, when Mom & Grandma gave me a framed photo of Pauline (taken when she was 15 years old), I've felt a mysterious "connection" to her. I have no real memories of her, but I definitely feel linked to her. She was Grandma St. John's mother, part of the mother-daughter chain ... Pauline, Carla, Karen, Terri, Jamie & Kacie ...

Reading her journals will be like hearing her voice for the first time. There's something romantic and magical about that.

Both the girls have runny noses and slight fevers this week, which I'm closely monitoring and treating with Children's Tylenol, Vicks, and plenty of apple juice. Don't want anyone sick for the holidays! Or for Jamie's birthday party on Sunday, either.

December 6, 1984
Thursday 9 a.m.

The world is so solidly frozen-over this morning, at first I mistook it for snow. I've picked up the girls' head cold, and my sinuses feel as frozen as the ground outside. I spent most of the night on the sofa (Ray was doing his buzz-saw impression again) and didn't get much sleep, so I'm groggy, too. In spite of the cold and the lack of sleep, though, I'm still feeling kinda "chirpy" today ...

Ray is taking me grocery-shopping today at 5:00. We'll finally have some FOOD in the house again! (The girls are getting pretty tired of scrambled eggs. ) I'm also going to get some things for Jamie's party, decorations and cake mix and such, and my Christmas cards.

Watching my two sweet girls playing together with their Legos. Kacie: bright red pullover sweater, red pants, red socks ... she looks like a little red apple. Jamie: pink nightgown, bare feet, hair pulled back into one messy braid. Jamie is in one of her imperious moods and just threatened Kacie with bodily harm if she touches any of Jamie's "Way-Goes." Kacie, feelings hurt, ran to the comfort of her blanky, and is standing now at my knee, seeking affection. Excuse me while I love my baby.

Sometimes I get really fed up with Jamie's selfishness towards Sissy ... then I have to remind myself that she is, after all, only three years old. A lot of the time I forget just how young Jamie really is. I spend so much time with her, and she seems so adult sometimes ... she speaks so clearly, she helps me around the house, she voices her opinions, she contributes love and laughter and energy to the household ... and it's easy sometimes to think of her as being more "grown up" than she really is. And then when she acts her age, I'm surprised.

Jamie doesn't like to share ANYTHING unless it's her idea (and then she's more likely to share her lima beans than her Legos!!!!).


  • This will only be Kacie's second Christmas but Jamie's FOURTH!

  • This is the first year that Jamie is actively looking forward to the holidays. This year she knows about Santa Claus, Christmas trees, stockings, presents ... all of which she is vitally interested in.

  • Mom: "Jay! What does Santa Claus say?"
    Jay: "San Caus say ‘ho ho ho!' "

  • Kacie is going to be a problem this year where the Christmas tree is concerned: I know it already.

December 8, 1984
Saturday noon

Tomorrow my firstborn daughter will be three years old.

At the moment, my soon-to-be-three-year-old is in the throes of agony because no one will play "Weggos" with her. It's not that we haven't tried; Kacie and I were sitting on the floor with her a little while ago, trying to interest Jamie in a three-way "Lego game," but she was cranky and unwilling to share her toys with anyone. She'd yank them out of Sissy's fingers, and burst into tears any time Kacie tried to pull the little pieces apart. Finally I got up and walked away, and Kacie followed right behind me. "If you don't want us to play with you," I said to her -- not unkindly -- "then we'll leave you alone." Then I sat down here at the table with my journal, while Kacie decided to dance whirl around the living room to Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams." This completely did Jamie in. "SOMEBODY PWEESE GOTTA PLAY WEGGOS WIF ME!" she sobbed and sobbed, until I finally had to gather her up in my arms and hug her tears away.

I'm feeling odd this morning. My cold medicine has some kind of stimulant in it, and it's not very pleasant. Ray never came home last night. He left here at 8:30 p.m., planning to get the money someone owes him and vowing to be home by 10:00. I had a restless night ... I kept listening for Ray to come in ... plus Kacie started hollering around 4 a.m. and kept it up for three solid hours. I'm tired this morning, worried about Ray, and have a million things to do in preparation for Jamie's party tomorrow.

Ray and I went grocery shopping on Thursday night. Besides food, I also got two boxes of Christmas cards and the ingredients for a big batch of Christmas cookies. Yesterday I got started addressing my cards, and Jamie and I baked cookies.

We shopped at G.O. Guy for Jamie's birthday. I really wanted to get her a "Chatty Patty" doll this year but we didn't have the money for it, so we got her a nice dolly with three outfits and accessories for $10. I also got her three coloring books for a dollar. I'll bake her cake this evening after she's gone to bed.

I'm hoping against hope we can get our tree tonight, but it all depends on Ray -- and on money. After we finished grocery shopping we were left with exactly $30 for the next two weeks. I'm not too worried about the money situation, even though it means I have to postpone all my Christmas shopping until the weekend before Christmas: things are always tight in December, but we always seem to manage.

December 9, 1984
Sunday evening 5 p.m.
Jamie's third birthday

Deeply happy at the moment. Such a long and busy day we've had today! Jamie is laying here next to me on the sofa, sound asleep ... Kacie is napping ... Ray has gone to Renton to pick up money owed him. I'm wearing a fuzzy new bathrobe - deep lavender - a birthday gift from Mom. I've got a cup of hot spiced wine, an old episode of "The Waltons" on TV and a tall, beautiful Christmas tree sparkling and glowing in front of me.

Jamie's birthday party was a rousing success! Mom, Grandma St. John, Ray, Terry and Erica were here for cake and presents, from 1:30 to 3:30. Jamie was full of high spirits, thrilled to be the center of attention!

Party Grrls.
December 1984

December 10, 1984
Monday morning

I will continue with this now.

I remembered the feverish way I scrubbed house and made preparations for Jamie's birthday party last year -- and then what a disappointing evening it was, in terms of family turn-out -- so this year I just relaxed about the whole thing. True, I did get up early yesterday morning to give the house a thorough going-over; but this year I wasn't manic about it. (No scrubbing the ceilings and polishing the ashtrays!) By noon the house looked lovely, especially with the Christmas tree.

I have to back up a minute, to Saturday night. That afternoon, after I wrote in this journal, the mailman came and Jamie got $20 from the Arizona relatives for her birthday. That gave us $33 altogether -- enough for a tree and a tiny amount of groceries. We were jubilant! I was very polite and asked Jamie if we could use her birthday money to buy our Christmas tree, and she said yes. She was proud to be included in such an important purchase!  Ray took her tree-shopping, while I spent a quiet afternoon with Kacie. When they got home, Jamie was enormously excited: not only had they found the perfect tree, tall and full for only $14, but they'd run into SANTA CLAUS at Albertson's! Jamie was clutching a Polaroid snapshot of her and Santa, showing her sitting on his lap. For the rest of the evening the photo was her prized possession. "Santa Caws had a little bit runny nose!" she whispered to me confidentially. This was her first face-to-face encounter with Santa, and I'll never forget how excited she was that afternoon.

Jamie's first face-to-face "Santa encounter"
December 1984

Terry S. helped us decorate the tree that evening, after Kacie went to bed. (Kacie got a good look at the tree earlier, before it was decorated. Ray laid it across the kitchen floor, attaching the tree stand. Kacie looked at the huge tree, grinned from ear to ear, and happily shouted "FOWRF!" Then she and Jamie plunked themselves down on the floor beside the tree and pretended to "fix" it with Daddy's wrenches and hammers.) 

Cartoon from the original journal

Decorating took two hours. While we put the ornaments on the tree, we listened to my Christmas tapes, drank hot spiced wine and ate the tacos Ray made for dinner. All very jolly and spirited. The tree, when finished, was splendid. All the tiny ornaments I ordered by mail this year gave it just the right, special touch. I strung a lot of popcorn this year, too, and it makes the tree a bit "homier" and old-fashioned looking. I think it's perfect.

Yesterday when Kacie got up and saw the big decorated tree standing in her living room, she was quite pleased! She toddled over and gingerly touched the lower branches, the tinsel and the few non-breakable ornaments I purposely hung on the lower branches for her to enjoy. When one of the colored glass balls fell on the floor she gave me a stricken look, but I just smiled and showed her how to hang it back on the tree. I am determined not to be a big grouch about the tree this year, especially where Kacie is concerned. I want to foster in my children the same love for Christmas that I have always felt ... the same awe, the same sense of wonder I feel whenever I see a particularly beautiful Christmas tree. I want them to feel free to touch and smell and enjoy every part of the holiday season -- including the tree. So what if they wind up with a little tinsel in their hair?

Anyway. Back to the birthday.

Erica, the little girl from up the street, was the first to arrive, with a new coloring book & a box of crayons for Jamie. The two of them gleefully chased each other around the house, growling like "monsters." When my mom and Grandma St. John pulled up, Jamie shrieked "MY GRAMMA'S HERE OH BOY!" and threw open the door, giving them a noisy and exuberant welcome.

We visited for a bit, and then we got right down to the important business of present opening. Erica could only stay for an hour so we wanted to do the "party stuff" early. Jamie got a Rainbow Brite sweatshirt from her great-grandma, which she promptly put on and wore for the rest of the day. From Grandma Beeson she got a R.B. nightgown (she's wearing it now), a new lampshade to replace the one Kacie tore up, and a new storybook, "Bonnie Rabbit Learns What's Important." From Ray and me, she got the doll w/clothes and accessories, which (to my immense relief) she truly loves, although for some unfathomable reason she has named the doll "Duke." (She changed the doll's name later to "Michelle," then later to "Kimberly.")

She wore that Rainbow Brite sweatshirt until it was in tatters.
(And check out my VERY 80's earrings.  Gack.)
December 1984

The moment of glory was when Terry walked in the door carrying a brand-new goldfish bowl and two tiny goldfish for Jamie!! More about the "fishies" in a moment: for now I'll just say that Jamie was delighted.

Here, fishy fishy fishies ...

I received some gifts also, for my birthday next weekend. Quite unexpectedly, Mom gave me an absolutely PERFECT new bathrobe -- pullover style, with a zip front and deep pockets, in a shade of lavender that I love. She said she noticed during her last visit that my robe was looking a "little ragged." Grandma gave me a set of six soaps in my old favorite "English Lavender" scent. I'll try one out in a few minutes, when I shower.

Even Kacie got a present, from Grandma St. John -- a "Talking Baby Bevns" doll. Grandma was in the hospital last spring when Kacie had her first birthday, so this was a belated gift.

I surprised myself. The cake I made for Jamie was the best -- THE BEST! -- cake I've ever baked in my life! I'm not much of a baker, but for once everything turned out right. Jamie giggled when we sang "Happy Birthday" to her, then she blew out her candles and launched herself into a gigantic slice.

After the party ended -- Mom, Grandma and Terry went home, and Ray went out for a couple of hours to pick up some money owed him -- I popped Kacie into her crib for a late-afternoon nap, and Jamie voluntarily layed down on the sofa and soon fell asleep. That's when I wrote about being "deeply happy." I truly was. Just sitting there in the darkened living room, writing by the lights of the Christmas tree, Jamie sleeping beside me ... the house was so quiet and tidy ... I haven't felt that peaceful and content in a long time. It was special. The nice thing is that the feeling persists today.

About the fish. They are tiny -- one is solid orange, your standard goldfish, and the other is white with orange patches. I named the orange one "Cornflake" (actually his full name is Cornflake S. Peshly, from a character on Mr. Rogers). Jamie named the other one "Billy."  We've got the fish bowl sitting on top of the piano, out of range of little fingers but in full view for all to enjoy. (Note: moved it to top of fridge later, when Kacie attempted to scale the piano.) There is something remarkably serene and tranquil about watching fish. Jamie is fascinated with them. When Kacie is sleeping, we put the fish bowl on the kitchen table so Jamie can get a close look at her new pets. "Hey fishy fishy fishies!" she shouts happily. I have to restrain her from throwing stuff into the bowl ... last night she tried to "feed" them a big chunk of apple and a piece of paper towel. With any luck, Cornflake and Billy will be more than just a flash in the pan (or is that FISH in the pan?) ... they will teach Jamie something about responsibility, and about caring. It will be her job (under my direct supervision) to feed them.

December 11, 1984
Tuesday 11 a.m.

My good mood continues, (even) in spite of the fact that I slept lousy last night - dogs barking, Ray snoring, too much coffee - I got up this morning and saw the Christmas tree and my spirits soared.

Mama: "Why did you push these two chairs together like this?" (Fish bowl on table, two chairs sitting side by side)

Jamie: "'Cuz I want you to be friends wif my fishies ... an' I wanna sippa your pop!"

Kacie is circling the tree, batting at the tinsel and poking at the ornaments. Jamie is sitting here at the table with me, looking glum because I won't let her take a pen and scribble in my old journals. "I wanna WRITE sumpin!" she says. Their moods don't seem to match mine this morning: they're both a little on the crabby side. I'll fix that!

December 12, 1984

The only thing I don't like about this time of year is the constant "ticking" in my head ... the noisy buzz of plans and lists and worries, even at moments when I'm supposed to be concentrating on something else. Example: trying to write a letter to Grandma Vert a little while ago, I suddenly caught myself sitting here with pen in hand, motionlessly staring out the window and thinking about the girls' stocking stuffers ... people I've still got to shop for ... Christmas card lists ... Christmas Eve plans ... tick, tick, tick ... It drives me crazy! Sure wish my brain had an on/off switch so I could give it a break.

Another example: a minute ago I was in the shower, happily lathering up with my new lavender soap, humming "Frosty The Snowman," telling Kacie to "Put down that BROOM!" ... and the whole time, in the back of my mind -- tick, tick, tick --  we need more wrapping paper and Scotch tape, where should I mail Rhonda's Christmas card this year?, more white candles, candy canes, should I bake more cookies? ...

Onto a totally different subject for a minute. There is a sign hanging in Jamie's bedroom, as of two days ago, which says:


I made the sign and hung it above her bed two nights ago. I was tucking her in that night, and we had just finished our prayers ("And God, please make sure Jamie has only happy dreams" is something she insists I add to our nightly "Now I lay me ..."), when she anxiously blurted out, "And no bad clowns can come in Jamie's room!"  After a little probing, I learned that "bad clowns" are something she has scary dreams about. "Bad clowns can 'most eat me!" she said, very worriedly, at which point I came up with the idea of the sign hung above her bed. It worked like a charm, and seemed to greatly comfort her.

While I sympathize with her fears, I was also kind of thrilled to get my first glimpse into the world of her dreams. I can't explain how it made me feel -- like taking a peek at the wheels turning inside her small head. It was neat.

(Note: Several months later we finally discovered the origin of the mysterious "bad clowns" ... it came from the movie "Poltergeist," which we'd seen on cable the summer before Apparently the movie made more of a lasting impression on Jamie than anyone suspected.)

Every morning now Jamie tries to dress herself ... she's quite offended if I offer to help. She does pretty well with underwear, pants and socks, but often gets "stuck" in her shirt or dress. And usually things wind up backwards or inside out. But at least she's trying.

Jamie: "Hey! You can't write when I'm tryin' to get my brown sweater on!"
Mom (smiling): "Yes, boss! You're the boss!"
Jamie: "I notta big boss, I'm the little boss."


Made some cheese spread out of the big block of cheddar that Ray's Grandma D. sent us (she'll be in town on Saturday, but the way) -- two big crocks' worth. I mixed the cheese with milk, mayonnaise, chopped onion, bacon, Worcestershire and a dash of red wine. It's real spicy, but Jamie likes it spread on crackers.

Also sent out a batch of Christmas cards.

December 13, 1984
Thursday 11 a.m.

The girls are sitting here at the table with me, eating the special breakfast I made them -- my famous "Peanut Butter Banana Boat Surprises!" (That's an English muffin spread with peanut butter and honey, topped with shredded coconut, banana slices and brown sugar, broiled for 3 minutes).

Ray is home today! As a matter of fact, he's home for the next four days, due to a temporary work shortage at the plant.

December 14, 1984
Friday 8 p.m.

The eve of my twenty-seventh birthday. I'm feeling too warm and sleepy at the moment to write much, except to say that all is very right with my world tonight.

December 15, 1984
Saturday morning

I'm going to try and write something worthwhile today -- something substantial -- at least a couple pages' worth. I'm in the mood for a good write, although I haven't the faintest idea what I'll write about. We'll just play it by ear, I guess.

This is my birthday. I told myself last night that this would be a day like any other -- no big deal at all -- we've only got a couple of dollars so any kind of "celebration" is out of the question. I figured I'd just go about the business of laundry and housecleaning per usual, and leave all that "birthday nonsense" to people who are glad to be another year older.

Still ... now I find myself hoping for more, almost in spite of myself. A little gift, or a cake maybe. Even a birthday card from Ray. In spite of the fact that I told myself the trappings weren't necessary, I find that I haven't outgrown them completely, after all. There is still a need for observances in me. Secretly, I still long for someone to make a fuss over my birthday.

Since that isn't likely to happen today -- Ray isn't much of a fuss maker, on any occasion, and Jamie and Kacie couldn't care less! -- I think I'll just make a fuss over myself.

December 17, 1984
Monday morning

Snow!  We've got SNOW!  HURRAY!

I was up at 5 a.m. this morning for one reason or another -- I don't remember why -- when I noticed how unnaturally bright the living room looked. "Must have left the porch light on," I thought to myself. That's when I looked out the front window and discovered that the world was covered with SNOW! It was a delightful surprise. I ran back to bed and told Ray -- his reaction was a bit less than enthusiastic, I'm afraid, since he has to go back to work today! (He got up right on the spot, to make sure he had plenty of driving time.) Then I went and got Jamie. I wrapped her up in a blanket and carried her out to the big picture window and showed her the snow. She was happy, in a sort of sleepy/confused way ... 5 a.m. was way too early to get excited about ANYTHING, even snow ... so I tucked her back into bed next to me, in the spot warmed by her Daddy. I opened the bedroom curtains so we could see the snow-frosted trees outside the window, and we both dozed off again for a few hours.

As always, Jamie was up an hour before me. I heard her puttering around in the kitchen, turning on the TV, etc. She's grown up a lot in the last few months: unlike last summer, I can now lay back in bed and rest assured that she's behaving herself. I don't have to fear that she's tearing the house apart. When I got up, she was sitting at the table eating a bowl of Fruit Loops (without milk) and a tangerine, which she'd peeled herself. The whole house had that lovely, bright, white-washed look of a snowy day. "Hi!" Jamie said cheerily. "I just touch that snow a WIDDLE bit!" (She'd opened the door and poked her finger into the snow.) I dressed her in her warm birthday sweater and red corduroy pants, promising her we would go outside later. She is in a fantastically cheery, festive mood this morning.

When Kacie got up and saw the snow outside, she was all wide blue eyes and open mouth. She's been hit with so many new, strange things lately, though -- the Christmas tree, rearranged furniture, goldfish, unexpected company -- that snow was just one more in a long line of "new" things. Within minutes the thrill was gone: she toddled off in search of oranges and cereal, the snow all but forgotten.

I'm divided. On the one hand, I'm totally crazy in love with the snow, and with the way it makes the world look and feel. That's the inner child, alive and well, inside of me. On the other hand, the ADULT in me looks at the snow as a possible hindrance to Christmas shopping ... a driving hazard ... a runny-nose-inducer. The adult part of me is a real pain in the ass sometimes.

My birthday was as uneventful as I anticipated ... even Terry forgot all about it! That's not to say it wasn't a pleasant day: it was. I did a lot of blessings-counting. I thanked the Lord for things like the coziness of our home on chilly winter nights ... for little daughters who snuggle in my lap, smelling like shampoo and M & M's ... for my faithful husband who toils in the kitchen all evening producing supper ... for this happy time of year ...

New Kacie words: shower, fishies

Being 27, incidentally, doesn't feel any different than 26 (or 22, for that matter). I can't "see" myself aging. I know I'm getting older, but I don't feel it happening. Inside, I'm the same Terri I've always been ... with a few 1980's modifications, of course. I'm vain and self-centered and I depend on other people too much, just like always. On the other hand, I'm also imaginative and empathetic and loving. At least, I think I am. The way I've always been. The 80's have added a new dimension to my life, too -- motherhood and marriage have made me stronger, in new ways. Loving purely for the sake of loving has given my life added zest. Not love for reasons: love alone. Love for love's sake. The love I feel for Ray and the girls gives me hope for myself. If I can love this absolutely, without qualification, there must be hope for me.

Late afternoon: 

Took Jamie out in the snow for a romp! Bundled up like a little Eskimo ... her nose & cheeks as red as her mittens ... she ran and jumped and kicked up the snow with her feet and squealed when it stuck to her shoes.

Cartoon from the original journal


  • Ray - $20 from Bev & Henry
  • Me - $10 from Bev & Henry (birthday)
  • $20 from Bev & Henry (Christmas)
  • Kacie - $20 from B & H

December 18, 1984
Tuesday evening

Yesterday was a great day, all around:  the snow, and Jamie's delighted reaction to it   ...  the money and cards we got in the mail  ...  Ray home at 4:30 with McDonalds (an unexpected treat) ... also a new McCall's magazine, the Christmas issue, and in the evening the BEST Christmas movie I've ever seen, the new George C. Scott version of "A Christmas Carol" (I cried at the end).

JAMIE: Trike, $40; Rainbow Brite doll, $10; Color Cottage $10

KACIE: Trike, $35; Glo-Worm, $10; See & Say $10

December 20, 1984
Thursday afternoon

Heavy snow again this morning ... I took both the girls outside to play in it. Kacie was fascinated with the way it fell from the sky, and she stood there, looking straight up, giggling when the snowflakes fell on her face. Jamie was an "old pro" at playing in the snow, and she merrily showed Sissy how to tromp around in it and catch snowflakes on her tongue.

Ray and I were supposed to go Christmas shopping tonight, but the roads are a mess and I doubt that Ray will feel like driving to Bellevue. I'm trying really hard not to panic: Christmas is in five days, and except for a few Avon things, I haven't even started my shopping !!!!!!


December 21, 1984
Friday morning 7:30 a.m.

Yikes. Christmas draws ever nearer, and I haven't even made a dent in my shopping. As I predicted, Ray didn't think we should drive to Bellevue last night because of the snow: it took him over an hour just to get to the grocery store and back, ten blocks away. There's a chance we may go tonight -- it's supposed to rain later and wash the snow away -- but that depends on a number of things ... whether or not I can scare up a sitter, what time Ray finishes work, how he's feeling when he gets home ..

I'm ready and eager to tackle the job. I'm not an especially good shopper -- I'm too impulsive, often buying the first thing I find rather than shopping around -- but some of the spirit of the season has managed to rub off on me this year, and even something ordinarily as distasteful to me as spending huge amounts of money seems like just another fun, Christmasey thing to do.

The most fun will be shopping for Jamie & Kacie! The TOY department!!

I got up much earlier this morning than usual  --  6 a.m.  --  in order to make Ray a hot breakfast before he left for work. I don't usually do this. He never eats breakfast, except sometimes on Sunday. So I rarely bother getting out of bed when he does. This morning, though, it just seemed like a nice thing to do. I made oatmeal and coffee for him, and the coffee smelled so good I couldn't resist pouring a cup for myself. Ray ate his oatmeal in a hurry and slugged down two cups of coffee before giving me a hasty kiss goodbye and hurrying out the door. It was still dark outside, so I turned on the Christmas tree lights and the TV. Jamie heard the noise and came wandering out to see what was going on. The house was still chilly, so I put her on the sofa and covered her with an afghan and found the early-early-morning edition of "Sesame Street" on TV for her.

(Jamie just gave Wendie Kitty a bowl of raisins for "breakfast.")

Today I'm going to clean the house and do an immense laundry. I'm trying to keep myself busy. As long as I've got plenty to do, I don't have time to panic about Christmas being four days away.

December 22, 1984
Saturday morning 8:30 a.m.

Very angry with Ray. He didn't come home last night, and I have no idea where he is this morning. To make things worse, some guy named Jeff has been here twice looking for Ray -- he was here once at 2 a.m. and nearly gave me a heart attack. Both times he left Ray a nasty note, of the "pay up or else" variety. This has done very little for my mood today. I don't know why Ray owes this asshole money, but the whole thing has become very irritating.

I drank too much wine last night as I waited (pointlessly) for Ray to come home, and this morning I have a splitting headache. The girls are still asleep -- the house is absolutely silent. Gray, cold, rainy day. I've been so happy this month, but this morning I feel so blue. If I could just get my CHRISTMAS SHOPPING DONE ...

Just now, as I was sitting here at the kitchen table writing this, a fat squirrel suddenly appeared on a branch of the cherry tree outside my window and peered in at me. For three minutes we both sat still, watching each other. He was a cute little guy, all bright button eyes and sleek glossy fur. I cocked my head at him, as a gesture of good will; he began to elaborately wash his face and arms. The way he held onto one small branch for support looked so human, it made me smile! I got up and put some bread crumbs and rolled oats on the porch for him and his bird friends to share. Some tiny portion of my Christmas spirit has been restored ... enough to share a meal with a squirrel, anyway, should he choose to reappear this morning. Right now the chickadees have found the crumbs: they will be followed by the jays and the crows. Lately I've been feeding the birds every day.

December 24, 1984
Monday 9:45 a.m.

Only have time for a hastily-scribbled page or two. We're leaving at 2 p.m. to visit my family, and there's a million things to do before we go.

I shopped on Saturday, after Ray finally got home. The days he was laid-off last week cut deeply into his paycheck, and the result was that I had very little money for gifts. The girls have three gifts apiece: Jamie has a red trike, a "Rainbow Brite" doll and Rainbow Brite's "Color Cottage." Kacie has a Tyke Bike, a Glo-Worm and an ABC's See & Say. I wanted to get them so much more, but my money ran out. I couldn't even afford anything for Ray, and although he hasn't said as much, I'm sure he didn't get me anything, either. This doesn't have me depressed, though. If we didn't have children, I might be sad about not having any presents under our tree; but I'm so excited about the girls getting their trikes tomorrow morning, it makes up for everything!

I am THRILLED with the girls' pictures from Sears, by the way. ($40 for the whole package, including a 10 x 13 wall portrait.) Jamie and Kacie are SUCH gorgeous children !!!

December 26, 1984
Wednesday 11 a.m.

My annual case of the post-Christmas-blues has wasted no time setting in. The minute I opened my eyes this morning and realized what day it was ... the day AFTER Christmas ... I was flooded with a sinking, empty feeling. It only got worse as I got up and started my morning routine. Our house is strewn with toys, paper, empty boxes, dirty clothes, jackets, shoes, towels, TV trays, broken cookies, paper bags, newspapers and four days' worth of dirty dishes. It will take me the rest of the week to restore order. The Christmas tree looks as sad and worn-out as I feel ... all the spring and life has gone out of it, and the lower branches are drooping forlornly.

Still -- I'm going to try and fight it. It seems wrong, somehow, to be downhearted so soon after the holiest day of the year -- ungrateful, somehow, and mean-spirited. After weeks (months, really) of preparation, enjoying the spirit of the holidays, feeling the peace and love of this time of year, suddenly feeling miserable the day-after is too jarring. I need to work into my post-holiday depression a little more gradually! So today I'm going to fight back any feelings of gloom. The girls are running around in pretty new clothes, happily playing with the piles and piles of new toys they received. There is leftover turkey in the fridge, so I can make my favorite sandwich for lunch, and the cookie jar is filled with Judy's good Christmas cookies. I can do laundry and wash dishes and put our new things away ... perhaps keeping me too preoccupied to give in to depression.

And the girls. I've got to keep up a happy face for them. This holiday season I have tried to teach them a little bit about the good, happy things Christmas brings ... I've tried to instill in them my love for the Christmas tree, Christmas music, snow, candles. I brought all the good things to their attention: we made Christmas cookies and decorated the house and sent out cards. Jamie learned to sing "Up On The Housetop" and "Frosty The Snowman." Kacie had her first candy cane. Time enough in the future for them to see the down side of Christmas: money problems, shopping hassles, family troubles, hangovers, messy houses ...

...  and the December 26th blahs.

Christmas 1984, overall, was a fairly smooth and happy one. I might be a little too "close" at the moment to view it objectively. There were highs and lows, just as there are every year.

Christmas Eve was especially nice this year. We went to see Grandma and Ted first. The girls each got a beautiful new dolly and I got a pair of pearl earrings. Grandma wrote us a $50 check also. 

(Another Kacie picture that I absolutely LOVE.)
Christmas Eve 1984

Cont. 12-27-84

Next we went to Dad and Valerie's, which, interestingly enough, turned out to be the highlight of the evening.

December 27, 1984
Diary Entry

Ray left a funny (but unprintable!) message for me when I woke up this morning that left me in good spirits all day. Got a lot done today, including half a letter writen to Carol Baron, and a huge pot of spaghetti sauce made.  Spent some special time with Jamie today: we had an afternoon "tea party" with the toy dishes she got from her Aunt Judy, worked on some of her new puzzles.  

Terry was over briefly, in another one of her "moods"  --  this time, crying because she can't go visit her father during Christmas vacation.  (Every time she comes over here visibly upset like that, she confuses and worries Jamie.)  Letter from Michele Manzo in Ontario. 

Ray home at 6:30.  Started to snow quite heavily around 9:30 tonight.  I hope that it sticks so the girls can play outside tomorrow.

December 28, 1984
Diary Entry

The snow was all gone  by this morning  ...  darn.  

Kacie gave me a terrible scare by shoving a pierced earring up her nose.  I had to use tweezers to extract it  --  it bled for twenty minutes afterward, and frightened her terribly.  (She had frequent nosebleeds for years afterward.)  Later in the afternoon, Jamie made her contribution to my future ulcer by eating a whole box of gumballs  --  at least a dozen of them.  Ah, motherhood!  

I spent my day sorting through a giant stack of old magazines, tearing out interesting articles and tossing out the rest of the magazine.  This may sound like a frivolous activity, but it's actually part of my plan to streamline my life in '85  --  I reduced a 3 ft. stack of magazines to one small folder of magazines, thereby giving me some much-needed closet space.  

Ray was home (incredibly) at 6:00  --  I made hamburgers for our dinner.  More snow is expected tonight.

December 29, 1984
Saturday morning

I'm having a heck of a time getting this account written!! For some reason, recounting all the details of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is proving to be an impossible task. Every time I get started writing about it, something happens to distract me.

Before any more time goes by, I'm going to sit here and FORCE myself to give you a capsule account of the holidays ... no distractions allowed!!

Grandma St. John's was nice -- my brother Dick was there, also his pregnant lady-friend Gina -- also my sister Debi and, as an added surprise, my step-brothers Pat and Ronny, who I haven't seen in ten years. We gave pictures of Jamie and Kacie to everyone. Ray played "Santa." (Remember Jamie in tears - "I want another PRESENT, Dad-dee.") I got a diary from Grandma St. John, kitchen towels from Mom, and a necklace from Gina ... Ray got two "Garfield" books, a polo shirt and some Old Spice. The girls got rag dolls from Mom, and other toys I couldn't keep track of.  Also some corduroy overalls and a "Garfield" nightgown for Jamie.

My dad with his granddaughters
Christmas Eve 1984

We got home Christmas Eve around midnight. Ray and I put our sleepy little girls to bed, and then we played "Santa." Fun!  I filled up their stockings, and Ray arranged all their new toys, including new (wrapped) ones from us, under the tree. We set the new trikes under the tree unwrapped, right in front where they couldn't be missed. Then we arranged some "evidence" of Santa's visit on the kitchen table ... a plate with a dab of mayonnaise and a bit of lettuce on it, an empty can of Sprite and a crumpled napkin next to it.

In the morning - 8:30 a.m. - I was the first up. I turned on the Christmas tree lights and put some holiday music on the stereo. Then I got everyone up! Jamie noticed her trike first thing. "Oh!" she said. "Santa Claus give me a BIKE, Mama!!" She was so excited! Then she noticed the fat stockings hanging from the stereo, and Santa's dirty plate on the table. She hardly knew where to start! 

Kacie was kind of sleepy and confused at first, until I started the two of them emptying their stockings ... the sight of all that candy woke her right up.

Jamie loved her Rainbow Brite & the Color Cottage ... I knew she would. We put it together right on the spot and she played with it all morning (when she wasn't sitting on her new trike). Kacie loved her little Tyke Bike and the candy from her stocking, but she didn't pay much attention to the Glo-Worm or the See & Say.

The girls with their Christmas "bikes"
Christmas morning 1984

I fixed everyone some breakfast, and Ray went back to bed for awhile.

At noon we were all dressed and on our way to Ray's parents' house. By the time we got there -- we were the last to arrive, as usual -- all the gifts had already been opened except for ours. We sat in the living room and tackled our huge piles of presents while the others watched. We got SO much stuff. Jamie: four new outfits, a nightgown & pink bathrobe, socks, underwear, barrettes, dolls, books, puzzles, toys, a tea set and a toy nurse's set. Kacie: more of the same. Ray: a flannel shirt, a down vest, bath towels, underwear and socks. Me: a pullover sweater, houseslippers, nylon knee-hi's, a decorative pillow, kitchen towels, candy, cookies, a book ("Valley of the Horses" by Jean Auel).

Christmas at the in-laws' was special this year, because for the first time all six of the little grandchildren were together. Also Patty & John, and Ray's grandmother Cecil D. from Arkansas (a crusty old gal who I like very much). We had a long, lazy day ... lots of quiet visiting, watching the little guys play with new toys, football on TV, etc. Dinner was at 3 p.m., turkey with all the trimmings. Jamie, Kacie, Billy, Gerald and Tanya sat at the table in the kitchen (Nathan sat with the grown-ups: I don't know why). There was wine, but I was feeling a bit hungover (hot rum drinks at Dad's the next before) so I skipped it.

We got home around 6 p.m. and enjoyed a quiet Christmas evening at home. Terry came by at one point and took a family picture of Ray and the girls and I in front of the tree.

And now to the present. It is a snowy Saturday morning ... so far the snow isn't sticking much because it's so wet, but I have hopes for this afternoon. Ray is home -- he has an "important" Seahawks game on TV, and is dividing his time between watching the game in the living room and fixing his omelet here in the kitchen. The house is warm and cozy this morning, a little messy -- just enough to be comfortable -- and smells of ham, coffee, Jamie's Christmas bath powder, last night's fried onions. Kacie is in a delightful, impish mood this morning and is sitting next to me here at the table ... purple striped overalls, blue shirt, yellow socks, sticky hair ... playing with her new "Get Along Gang TV." Every few minutes she carries it out to Ray and "asks" him to wind it up again. Jamie is plopped into an armchair with a bottle of juice; all I can see of her are her feet, dangling casually over the edge of the chair.

We are completely broke, as usual, but I am not panicked.

Diary Entry:

Snowed steadily and heavily all day today  ...  but, incredibly, none of it stuck!   By nightfall it was gone  --  washed away by rain.  I'm very disappointed, and so are Ray and Jamie: we were looking forward to being snowed-in, but no such luck! 

Took down the tree and all the Christmas decorations (except for cards); the house looks stark without them.  Ray watched the Seahawks lose on TV, cleaned out my vacuum cleaner and fixed Jamie's lamp (he was in one of his "handy" moods.  We have eighty cents to our names  --  I've got Kacie in cloth diapers because we don't have enough $ for disposables  --  yuck.  We're talking about going over to the folks' tomorrow to visit Patty, John and Grandma D. before they go home  --  maybe they'll loan us some money till payday.

Oh  --  Kacie has a 100° temp. and runny nose this evening: her cheeks look like two little red crab apples.

December 30, 1984
Sunday 11:15 a.m.

Well ... it looks like we're finally getting "The Big Snow" this morning. Zillions of tiny, dry, unhurried snowflakes have been coming down steadily for the past hour. This may squelch our plans to drive to Peg & Don's today, to visit the Arizona relatives before the head for home tomorrow -- also our plans to borrow some $ from them. We have eighty cents to our names, and this morning I AM slightly "panicked." I'm out of milk, and running dangerously low on all the staples ... butter, bread, laundry soap, cigarettes. Help us, Lord!

Took the tree down yesterday, and all the Christmas decorations except the cards. The living room looks a little empty without that big, bushy tree, but the snow outside lends a bit of belated holiday feeling.

Diary Entry: 

More steady snowfall most of the day (some of which stuck), but we seem to be "just missing" that one really BIG snowfall.  

Ray and I took Jamie and Kacie over to the folks' this afternoon, from 3 p.m. till 8 p.m. (Sheryl, Jeff and Tanya were there also).  We had a long and relaxed visit.  For some reason Ray's Grandma D. seems to have taken a special liking to me  --  we spent a long time talking, about Ray's grandfather, Deines family history, etc.   Before we left, Barbara loaned Ray $15 so we could get diapers, milk and a few groceries.  

Once home, we cooked small steaks for a late night supper.  Watched two movies on TV  --  "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"  --  didn't get to bed until 2 a.m.

Kacie is feeling better.


(Ray's irritating habit of squelching any comment or suggestion I make)

Me: "... When we go over to your folks' today."
He: "IF we make it over there." (Jib.)

Me: " ... I need diapers and milk very badly."
He: "They might not have any money." (Jab.)

Me: "Maybe Daddy can help Jamie make a snowman today!"
He: "I don't have any gloves." (Jib.)

Me: (referring to the snowfall) "This is the big one, I think!"
He: "Naw, it's too wet - it won't last." (Jab.)


Soak overnight in cold water 2 c. navy or pea beans. Drain in the morning: save the bean water. Chop onion, crisply fried bacon. Mix with beans: onion, bacon, garlic, 2 T. maple syrup, 6 T catsup, 1/2 t. dry mustard, 1/3 t. pepper, 2 t. salt. Cover with fresh water. Simmer 2 hrs. Put into 2 qt. casserole dish, add just enough bean liquid to cover. Cover pot and bake at 300? (slow oven) for 2-1/2 hours. Remove cover and bake 1-1/2 hrs. longer.

(Note to self: These weren't all that great  ...  plus I made enough for an army. Cut recipe in half next time?)

December 31, 1984

The final day of 1984  --  a basically uneventful but happy year. 

Ray was home today: he fixed the broken drawers on Jamie's bed, nailed a board over the busted bathroom heater (to keep the girls from poking their fingers into it)  --  lately he's been making a lot of needed repairs around the house, and I love it!  Got $100 today from our insurance agent, which we used on groceries, cold medicine for Kacie, snacks, a new shower curtain  --  also some film for my camera, with which I took pictures tonight of the girls and Ray.  

We got silly on beer this evening; Ray gave Dink a bath and clipped his matted hair; made ham sandwiches for a very late supper.  I wanted to stay up till midnight but I konked out early.  However, the firecrackers and noise around the neighborhood at 12 woke me briefly, and I gave my dear husband a kiss to celebrate the New Year.

The girls negotiate a salary increase with Dad

January 1, 1985

Happy 1985!  We had a fairly pleasant day today, ushering in the new year.  Jamie went to play at Ericka's house this morning for an hour (Terry took her)  --  that left Jay in a happy mood for the rest of the day.  Ray watched football,  I baked chocolate chip cookies, with a little "assistance" from Jamie. Later, Ray made a big pile of blankets and pillows on the living room floor and watched football there all day, taking turns snuggling with each other girls. 

Jamie and I tried our hand at finger painting  ...  what a mess, but fun!  (Jamie didn't like getting her fingers messy, though.)

My hopes for '85:  health and happiness for my children, my husband and myself  ...

January 2, 1985

I'm sick.  Late last night I started feeling crummy, and by this morning I was down with a fullblown case of "the crud."  I'm congested, achey and deeply fatigued.  The girls and I (through some careful maneuvering on my part)  spent most of the day napping.  I passed most of the evening in a hazy fog, dopey on cold medicine and groggy from too much sleep.

Got a really great Bob Dylan (?) song on one of my "radio tapes"  --  I don't know the name of it, but it goes something like "I got an appetite like a millionaire  ...  I ain't got a dime."  Played it over and over tonight.  Even when it isn't on, I hear it endlessly in my head.  (I like the music  --  the lyrics are secondary.)   Many, MANY years from now, my second husband David will find the song for me, and it isn't Bob Dylan: it's Tom Rush, "Blow, Whistle, Blow."

Tonight Jamie took her Rainbow Brite doll's temperature  ...  rectally!

January 3, 1985
Thursday 11 a.m.

Well, here we are in 1985 ... Happy New Year, Journal!

Last year I made only one resolution for 1984 -- to avoid getting pregnant -- and I'm happy to report that 1984 was one year when I kept all of my resolutions!

This year, things are a little more complicated. My list of resolutions is enormous. It ranges from losing weight (a perennial favorite), to cleaning out all the closets, cupboards and drawers in the house, to starting a new scrapbook for Jamie. There are a lot of little resolutions and a few big ones: taking steps toward the writing career I've always dreamed of, earning money of my own, deciding whether or not to have another baby. I want to take more pictures and make fewer promises. Read more and worry less. Spend more time with my kids (if that's possible!) and less time with the vacuum cleaner ...

Later today I'll put all of my resolutions into a list. For now, on to other things ...

Here is the state of my world on this (unexpectedly) foggy day in earliest 1985 ... another head cold, this one a "gift" from Kacie. Jamie has it too. Our noses are stuffy, and tempers are riding a little higher than usual.

The kitchen sink is stopped up. Ray made a feeble attempt to clear it last night but failed. Three days' worth of dirty dishes are piled up and there's no way to wash them. Today is payday and I'm hoping we can afford to have something done about it: the mess is getting to me.

Today I'll take down the Christmas cards ... the last vestige of holiday decoration ... and Christmas '84 will finally, completely be over.

Diary Entry:

Feeling better, though still congested.  (Same with the girls.)  Our kitchen sink is stopped up  --  sure is a mess.  The pile of dirty dishes is three feet high.  This afternoon (payday  --  thank goodness), Ray went grocery shopping, bought some tools and stuff to clear out the drain.  He also surprised me with a brand-new automatic coffeemaker and a pound of coffee!  He said, "I haven't seen you smile in a week; maybe this will cheer you up."  I was so thrilled  --  and touched  --  that I cried! 

Later in the evening he succeeded in fixing the sink, and then went out and got us a pizza.

January 4, 1985

Diary Entry:

Worked hard all day.  Took me three hours just to wash the dishes  --  sure am glad my sink is fixed!  Did two loads of laundry, cleaned the bathroom, made beef stew for dinner. 

This evening Terry watched the girls for a couple of hours while Ron and I went to the movies.  We saw "The Terminator" with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton.  I found it a little too violent and graphic in places, but enjoyed the "time travel" theme and the love story.  (Ray enjoyed it all the way around.)  We were going to go to dinner afterwards, but decided to save our money  --  came home and ate beef stew instead.

Had dreams about 6001 and Scott Wolf all night.

January 5, 1985

Diary Entry:

Felt great when I got up this morning, but my energy level sort of dissipated as the day went by.  By afternoon I was so tired I went to bed for a little while and let Ron take care of the kids.

Terry took Jamie over to play with Ericka and Rebecca for a couple of hours this afternoon.  Kacie wanted to go too, but she's still too little. 

Watched "Go Ask Alice" on TV (1972 movie)  --  got a good letter from Melinda R. in New Jersey  --  other than that, this was a day without highlights, unless of course you count the pleasure I get just from spending time with my daughters and my husband.

January 6, 1985
Sunday morning

Sounds we hear: bacon sizzling in the frying pan ... Ray's football game on TV ... Jamie rummaging through a box of pencils ... Kacie's happy "Hah! Toe. Hah! TOE!" (meaning unknown) as she scribbles on a piece of paper with a colored pencil ... dogs barking outside ... Ray's car pulling into the driveway ... Jamie's squeaky brown pencil ...

Things we smell: bacon (again) ... coffee ... cigarette smoke.

Other sensory impressions from this morning:

  • The feel of Mama's soft, fuzzy bathrobe.
  • The taste of hot coffee.
  • The sight of a pile of cookbooks on the kitchen table ... also on the table are Mama's red plaid scarf, some neatly-clipped coupons (for candles, biscuits, sponges), a portable TV, a basket of letters to be answered, shiny scissors, felt pens.
  • Cold air on my feet as the kitchen door is opened.

Diary Entry:

Another listless, drowsy day  --  I had no energy at all.  I think I may be pre-menstrual, because along with the lethargy I also felt mild cramps and had cravings for sweets.  Watched "Paint Your Wagon" in the afternoon with Ray.  This evening Ron cooked steaks outside on the Weber while I watched the first part of "The Thorn Birds."

Kacie's new favorite thing to do:  scribbling on pieces of paper with my colored pencils.

January 7, 1985

Diary Entry:

A little more energetic today.  Fueled by the thought that I might have unexpected company (Cathie Walden is supposed to drop by sometime soon), I cleaned house, set my hair, even put on makeup.  When no company materialized after all, I relaxed  --  made a pot of baked beans, worked on my cookbooks, watched cartoons with Jamie.  Ray was home by 4:30  --  brought me a bottle of Liquid Paper.

Watched the second part of "The Thorn Birds" this evening  --  I am thoroughly enjoying this miniseries, which I missed when it aired initially in March '83 (I was in the hospital having Kacie).

January 8, 1985
Tuesday morning

"1985" still feels kind of funny to me ... how in the world can it possibly be 1985 already?!? I remember 1975 ... for that matter I remember 1965 ... as clearly as if they happened last week. It will take me awhile to grow accustomed to the fact that the future has arrived.

Beautiful day. The sun is shining, and even though it's bitterly cold (too cold, even, to crack open a kitchen window), there is an odd, prematurely springlike feeling in the air. I felt it yesterday, and I feel it again today. It raises my spirits  ... makes me feel more optimistic and energetic.

Things are going fairly well in my life at the moment. All traces of Christmas have finally been removed and packed away in the hall closet; for a couple of days I fretted over how bare the house looked, stripped of all holiday decorations. But today it just looks cleaner and tidier, to my eye. I'm sorry that Christmas is over for another whole year -- it always come and goes much too quickly -- but now it's on to other things.

I have good feelings about the year ahead: I feel primed and ready. This is going to be the year I begin moving in a forward direction again. No more holding myself back.

Last year at this time I was struggling with a deep and debilitating depression. 1984 seemed to loom ahead as a year without promise ... a long, dull year of drudgery. Beginning the year with that kind of fatalistic attitude proved to be a handicap I couldn't get past, even later in the year. The result was a year without any real highlights. I didn't feel motivated to try anything new. It wasn't a bad year -- it was pleasant enough -- it just didn't turn out to be anything special. I want 1985 to be different.

I'm still working on my list of resolutions. I'm trying to be specific and thorough and about it. When I've finished putting together my plan for 1985, I'll share it with you, Journal.

Diary Entry:

Felt more like my usual self  --  got a lot of work done, wrote a long letter to Melinda, visited with Maureen Blair (my Avon lady) when she stopped by.  The sun was shining and the world felt oddly spring-like  ...   my spirits were high.

Part III of "The Thorn Birds."

January 9, 1985
Wednesday 11 a.m.

A HUGE moving van just pulled up in front of the house next door (the Bruffs moved away last month), and Jamie said "OH! Our new friends is here!"

1:30 p.m.

Oops - turned out to be a false alarm. The Kennedy's daughter Candy (two doors down) is moving out. No one's moving in next door, yet. Jamie and I are both a little disappointed. We've been looking forward to new neighbors ever since the day the Bruffs moved out. "Maybe dere'll be a friend for JAMIE and NEW friend for Mama," Jamie said. I'm hoping the same thing.

Diary Entry:

Tired and run-down again.  The beers I drank last night with Ray gave me a rotten stomach ache today.  I skipped the morning housework and just spent time with the girls.  We went out to the backyard and they played in the fresh air and sunshine for 45 minutes.  Later in the afternoon I managed to get the dishes washed, made meatballs for supper.  (They were GREAT.) 

Ray was home at 4:00  --  he fixed the living room lamp and the portable TV.

No "Thorn Birds" tonight.

January 10, 1985

Diary Entry:

Energy to spare today!   I was up at 7 a.m. to enjoy a little morningtime peace, quiet and solitude: made myself a hot breakfast, got some things ready for mailing.  I sent in my "aptitude test" to The Institute of Children's Literature (still don't know if that outfit is legit or not).  Thoroughly cleaned Jamie's room, did laundry, vacuumed the whole house.

Maureen stopped by again, and I gave her a small Avon order even though I still haven't paid for my last order.

Ray was home on the dot of 4:00.  I made BLT's and home-fries for supper  --  I did the preliminary work, anyway  --  when "The Thorn Birds" (conclusion) came on at 8:00, Ray took over the sandwich-making so I could enjoy my show.  The end of "The Thorn Birds" was very moving  ...  I cried, of course!

January 11, 1985
Friday 3 p.m.

I can't believe what a LAZYBONES I am today. The only things I've accomplished today have been putting on a lot of heavy eye makeup, taping the song "Jokerman" (Bob Dylan) off the radio, and reading a lot of old journals, the ones I wrote during the first years here with Ray. The dishes are stacked a mile high in the sink, nothing is thawed out for dinner, and I'm still schlepping around in Ray's p.j. bottoms and a baggy old blouse. If things go the way they have for the past six weeks, Ray will be home in an hour. (He's been a superlative husband lately: I really ought to tell you about it sometime.) Guess I should shake a leg. He doesn't care about the housework, but I should at least get out of these ratty clothes and brush my hair.

Diary Entry:

One day of energy, followed by a "low tide" day  --  that's the way it's been all week.  Today was another "low tide" day.  All I did was watch a little TV, listen to the stereo (FINALLY got "Jokerman" on tape), monitored the monkeys.  Jamie got a big kick out of pushing her dolls (and later, her little sister) around in the old denim stroller.  Kacie has inherited Jamie's old set of Fisher Price dishes (Jamie gave them up willingly and cheerfully) and she plays with them constantly.

Ray made dinner (BBQ beef sandwiches) because I felt so sleepy and wrung-out this evening.

January 12, 1985
Saturday morning

I'm just out of the shower, with my first cup of coffee of the day, feeling like I could do ANYTHING today. Very energetic. The only problem is that I'm also feeling "meaner than a rattlesnake" ... I've got a fresh crop of zits and I know my period must be on the way. It puts me into an ugly & vicious frame of mind. I've snapped at the girls and Ray all morning long.

Diary Entry:

Sunny day.  The girls wore their new Christmas sweatsuits and played in the backyard for a long time after lunch  --  they got muddy and cold, but had a fine time. 

Ray and I cut up some big cardboard boxes and made them a playhouse, complete with roof, windows, a door and a chimney  --  it's tall enough for Kacie to stand up in!  --  they played in it all day and all evening. 

We have no money, but still managed to make a nice dinner from odds and ends  --  ribs, chicken drumsticks (Ron BBQ'd them outside) and baked potatoes. 

Terry came by late in the evening to show us her new $200 portable stereo (she calls it a "ghetto blaster") and to play her new Prince tape.

January 13, 1985
Sunday morning

Too early to tell if I'm feeling more or less human today, although I did blow up at Kacie a little while ago when she pulled a bowl of raw eggs off the kitchen counter. Yesterday was awful in that regard. Ray did his best to be sweet and attentive and to draw me out of my blue mood, but nothing helped much.

I'm positive that it's just a case of pre-menstrual blahs. I'm due to get my period today.

One bright spot yesterday: Ray and I built the girls a playhouse out of cardboard boxes  ...  a BIG one, complete with roof, windows and doors! It's big enough to fit them both comfortably -- Kacie can even stand up in it! Right now it's sitting in the middle of the living room, looking for all the world like one of those shabby, makeshift shanties that hobos live in. But I expect it to remain a semi-permanent fixture in the living room for awhile. The girls adore it. They play in it all the time. I'm just going to have to shut my eyes and ignore the way it looks.

Ray's taking us over to the folks' this afternoon; we want to spend some time with Grandma D. before she goes home to Arkansas. I think Ray also wants to borrow a little money from his parents, since we're flat broke (as usual).

The girls are here at the table with me, enjoying their sausages and scrambled eggs. Kacie has dried egg in her hair, the result of her kitchen accident earlier this morning, and she is uncharacteristically solemn. I think it really hurt her feelings when I yelled at her, and I feel terrible about it. I love her so much. She's been crabby and irritable for several days, but then again so have I. I suppose it's inevitable that we should clash on occasion. Even knowing that, though, doesn't make me feel any less like a monster. She's ALWAYS been ten times more sensitive to scoldings than Jamie ever was.

Diary Entry:

Jamie had an excellent day today!

First, Terry took her over to Ericka's to play for an hour.  Later, Ray and I picked her up and we (Kacie included) went over to Pat and Doug's for the day.  We were expecting Grandma D. to still be there, but she had already left for home (in Arkansas) so it was just Ray and the girls and me, plus Ray's parents and Brenda.  We visited for several hours, had dinner  --  lasagna and pizza  --  I think the folks enjoyed having us over.  (They got to spend some time with their granddaughters.)

Used the phone at the folks' and called my mother, just to "chat" and wish her a happy anniversary (tomorrow).

Accidentally left Kacie's blanky at the folks'.

January 14, 1985

Diary Entry:

Woke up this morning with a strange pain on my right side, near my ribs.  Bothered me off and on, all day long.  Wonder what it could be?

Average day.  Cleaned house, did a large laundry, read a little bit (I'm reading Stephen King's "Christine" again.  I don't know why, since I've got a whole pile of unread new books.  Guess I need something I don't have to concentrate too hard on  --  something familiar.)  Got a letter from Deanne Vasiles in Alaska.  

Ray was home at 4, as usual.  By evening my side was really sore and tender, so he volunteered to cook dinner  --  cube steaks, fried potatoes.  Sat up late watching my favorite shows ("Kate & Allie," "Cagney & Lacey") and reading.  Fell asleep with a heating pad on my side.

January 15, 1985

Diary Entry:

Pain in my side has diminished to dull ache if I bend or stretch the wrong way  ...  no big deal.  I sound like such a hypochondriac in this diary, already  --  all I do is write about my little aches and pains.  No more!  I'll only write about my health if there's nothing else to write!!

Had a tea party on the kitchen floor with Jamie; wrote to Amanda Prothero in Burnaby; more laundry, more dishes, more vacuuming; no decent mail.  

Ray home at 4.  I made "Hawaiian Chicken" and white rice for dinner.

January 16, 1985

Diary Entry:

Sure am glad tomorrow is payday  ...  we are running low on nearly everything.  I wonder if it will always be like this  --  just barely making it from payday to payday?  We've got a lot more than some people, and I'm grateful, but it would be nice to have more breathing room, financially.

Cleaned the fishbowl, washed bedding, made spaghetti (from frozen sauce) and meatballs.  Taped a fabulous song today that I love, "I Want To Know What Love Is" by Foreigner.  Maureen stopped by for her Avon money, but I had to tell her I didn't have it.

January 17, 1985
Thursday 9:30 a.m.

I had dreams all night that I was pregnant again. (In the dream I was just beginning to "show," and I felt a little dismayed but also happy.) Then I woke up at 6 a.m. because, in actuality, my period had finally started. The cramps woke me up, and the flow started soon after. At about the same time, Ray and the kids all woke up too. I knew I would be too uncomfortable to sleep, and the kids were all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, so we just got up. That was three hours ago. I have spent the morning doing my "paperwork" (sorting through clipped magazine articles, putting things in my "Mama's Happy Book," drinking coffee). The girls watched "Sesame Street" twice, once at 7 .m. and again at 9 a.m., and now Kacie's eyes are beginning to droop. Should I put her down for a nap now? Or will that throw the rest of her day off balance?

Mom: "This would be a good day for pancakes!"

Jamie: "And sausages!"

Mom: "Yah! You're right about that!"

Jamie: (pointing to me) "You can cook the sausages, and Daddy can cook'a panmakes."

Mom: "Hey, any dummy can cook the sausage ... why can't I make the pancakes?"

Jamie: "A'cause you ‘most BURN yourself. Dat's why."

Mom: "Oh. I almost burn the pancakes, too! Mama doesn't make very good pancakes."

Jamie: "But Daddy dooz!"

Diary Entry:

Payday!  Hurray!  Ray went grocery shopping this afternoon after work and he bought a ton of stuff.  Feels great to have food in the freezer again.

Had a real long day today.  The girls and I were up at 6:30 a.m., and then Ray and I didn't go to bed until nearly 3 a.m.   I'll be dragging tomorrow!

(Period started this morning.  Better late than never!)

(My sister-in-law) Sheryl went into the hospital this evening: she is scheduled to have her baby by C-section tomorrow morning.

January 18, 1985

Diary Entry:

I was right:  I was dragging today.  Very tired.  I still managed to do a fair amount of cleaning and laundry, though, and spent some "special time" with each of the kids (with Jamie, it was puzzles: with Kacie, tickling and cuddling).

Ray didn't come home tonight.  I sat up and watched a new show that I like, "Miami Vice," and had a TV dinner, then went to bed.  Jamie slept with me.  Ray came home sometime in the early hours of the morning, crashed on the sofa.

Sheryl gave birth to an 8 lb. 4 oz. baby boy today! 

January 19, 1985

Diary Entry:

Ray was asleep on the sofa when Jamie and I got up this morning to watch the Saturday morning cartoons. I'm not angry about him staying out late last night  --  he's been spending so much time at home lately, and he deserved one night out. 

Today he fixed and cleaned our ancient oven like new  --  it works great now.  Good mail: a long and funny letter from Melinda, and the reprints I'd sent away for, of Jamie & Kacie's picture.  Didn't feel like cooking tonight so Ray went out and got us fast food (Rax roast beef sandwiches).

January 20, 1985

Diary Entry:

Super Bowl Sunday.  Ray was planted in front of the TV all day, drinking beer and watching his game.  I think it was Miami and San Francisco, but I have no idea who won.  (I don't care much or at all about football.)  I made pancakes and sausages for the girls, then I took a long nap. 

When I got up around 4:00, I discovered that Terry had dropped off her tape recorder for me to borrow.  I had great fun all evening, taping songs and getting silly on beer.  TOO silly, actually.

January 21, 1985

Diary Entry:

Paralyzing hangover today  --  I feel completely shitty.  Inauguration Day: nothing on TV but Ron & Nancy, all day long.

Jamie and Kacie were good as gold today  --  I thinked maybe they sensed that Mama was under the weather.  We spent a lot of quiet time cuddling in bed together and reading.

I made a delicious dinner this evening: a New England boiled dinner (corned beef, potatoes and carrots) and a beautiful mushroom and avocado salad.  To my anger and dismay, however, Ray never came home to eat any of it. 

January 22, 1985

Diary Entry:

Worked my tail off today, trying to put things to rights after the past two (disastrous) days.  The house sparkles and the laundry is done; I even cleaned Jamie's room.  Terry took Jamie for a walk this afternoon.  They found a My Little Pony (a toy horse for little girls), which has now become Jamie's constant companion.

Angry with Ray for most of the day.  Twice in the past week he has stayed out all night.  Does that mean that the shit is starting up all over again??  I HOPE not.

He was home tonight around 7:00.  I gave him last night's dried-out corned beef  --  and the sharp side of my tongue  --  for supper.

January 23, 1985
Wednesday 11 a.m.

About a week later. The feelings have been piling up in my heart, and I figured it was time for a good, long "write" in my journal.

Let's tie up some loose ends first. My period came and went, and I survived. My crabby mood eventually dissipated for the month, and I stopped snapping at Ray and the kids. This week I feel slightly downcast and sad, though, for no apparent reason. Well ... that's not exactly true. There are reasons. I have a couple of things nagging at me, and an embarrassing incident last weekend to live down. This is also the five year anniversary of the hellish day Scott W. walked out on me -- the worst day of my life. The pain is long gone, but there will always be a vague melancholy associated with this date. Perhaps maybe even more than that: an uncomfortable reminder of how suddenly disaster can alter your life. No one wants to be reminded of something like that.

Sheryl and Jeff had their baby last Friday morning, January 18 ... a little boy, Michael. One of my nagging worries is that Ray & I still haven't been to the hospital to see Sheryl and little Michael: we haven't even telephoned. Today we must do something about that.

My other worry is a standard one: no money for Avon, and I'm expecting Maureen to drop by this afternoon. I owe her almost $40. I expect she'll be quite angry when I tell her, for the millionth time, that I can't pay her.

The "embarrassing incident" this weekend is too embarrassing to write about ... sorry. It was nothing that can't be survived, however.  I have no idea what this was about, although I can guess: I probably got too high and made a fool out of myself in front of somebody.

Ray is starting to "slip" again ... another reason, perhaps, for my slight depression. For weeks he's been as good as gold  ...  coming straight home from work every day at 4:00, spending lots of time with the kids and I, making repairs around the house, grocery shopping, etc. It's been strange but wonderful. His newfound attentiveness and conscientiousness made him seem like a whole "new" Ray, and I found myself feeling better about him and about our marriage than I ever have. Twice in the past week, however (Friday, and then again on Monday) he stayed out the whole night, leaving me here to stew and worry. I'm hoping against hope that these were isolated incidents and that they won't happen again. But the pessimist in me fears this means it's all starting up again:  the late nights at the tavern, the kids going for days without seeing their Daddy, my lonely evenings and solitary dinners ... all the SHIT.  I don't know if I could bear to live that way again.

I guess I've got the January Blahs. It's one of those gray, foggy mornings - the fog is lifting a little now, but the whole world still looks grim and colorless. I feel a definite lack of "zip."

The kids are doing fine, though. They NEVER run out of zip!  Even when gloomy old Mom is schlepping around the house with a frown on her face. They still run and play and giggle and make up funny little games. (Two new "Jamie-Games": she pretends she's "More-EEN," the Avon lady, or else she pretends our kitchen is Dave's Place and that I'm the Dave's Place lady who serves her pop and chips.) Even when I'm feeling my gloomiest and doomiest, just watching my two baby chicks playing puts a little cheer back into my heart. Watching any children is pleasurable, but there's a special thrill connected to watching your own children: a special satisfaction. 

Diary Entry:

I'm depressed  ...  my annual case of the "January blahs," I suppose.  There are a couple of worries eating away at me (money I owe for Avon; the fact that we haven't called or gone over to see Sheryl and the new baby yet).  Life seems colorless at the moment.  I cleaned and laundered, wrote a letter to my penpal Debbie Devaney in Indiana, made Jell-O for the kids, finished reading "Christine."  Ray is working overtime so he wasn't home until past 7.  I hadn't had any dinner yet and he made moaning noises about how "starved" he was, so I had to fry him some pork chops, which I detest.  (I had a frozen meat pie instead.)  There is a lot of static between he and I. 

January 24, 1985

Diary Entry:

Still feeling blah.  Maureen stopped by this afternoon to pick up the $40 I owe her; talk about awful moments.  I gave her this long schpiel about how broke we are (which is true) and how I just can't pay it all.  So she cut my bill down to $27 and asked if I could try and pay by Saturday.  I know I still won't have any money by then, but I said OK.

Ray wasn't home until nearly 9:30 tonight.  I guess that the shit IS starting again.  It was nice when he was getting home by 4:00 every day, but nothing lasts forever.

I made chili and salad for dinner, watched all the good Thursday night shows (Cosby, Family Ties, Cheers, Night Court, Hill St. Blues).

New Kacie words: 

January 25, 1985

Diary Entry:

Ray was home from work today  --  things are slow at Western Kraft.  He took Jamie over to his parents' around noon, to pick up some money his dad owed him.  (I had him drop off a 'congratulations on the new baby' card for Sheryl while he was there.)  Family news: Don Jr. was seriously burned in an industrial accident last Monday.  I guess he's OK now, but for a while it was touch & go.  Sure wish we had a phone, so we didn't have to find out about these things four days after the fact!!

Great letter from Mom today.  She also sent some pictures of the kids, and a packet of letters written by Great Grandma DeGrasse in 1912, 1916 and 1919.  Fascinating.

Special two-hour "Miami Vice" tonight.  It has quickly become my favorite TV show.

January 26, 1985

Diary Entry:

Feeling a little happier.  Ray got up and fixed breakfast for the kids, letting me sleep in until 11:00.  Later in the day he took Jamie to the Kirkland waterfront to feed the ducks  --  Kacie napped  --   I had some time all to myself.  (I used the time to write Karen a letter.)  Maureen never showed up to collect her Avon money, which was a relief!

Got a long letter from Dad today.  Isn't that funny?  --  I just heard from my mother yesterday, and then today, from Dad.  He sent me an old photo of me with Great Grandma DeGrasse, which I'll treasure.  My interest in this woman I barely remember grows and grows.  I've still got the diary she wrote in 1895 (when she was 15)  ...  the old letters Mom sent me yesterday  ...  and now this photo, to add to my collection of memorabilia.  I feel a deep and inexplicable connection to Pauline Lamb DeGrasse: the things she wrote are like a window to the past.

Four Generations ~ Christmas 1957

I believe this is the photo Dad sent me (mentioned in this diary entry).
It was taken on Christmas Eve 1957, when I was nine days old. 
L-to-R: my grandmother, Carla DeGrasse Torgrimson St. John (age 41); Great-Grandma Pauline Lamb DeGrasse, holding me;
and my mother, Karen Torgrimson Vert (age 18)

January 27, 1985

Diary Entry:

Even happier.  I borrowed the car (while Ray watched the Pro Bowl on TV) and took the girls to the 9th Avenue park. We were the only ones there: the girls played on the swings, ran, jumped, rolled in the mud  ...  they had a ball!  And I had a chance to do some quiet thinking.  I have decided to try and quit drinking beer completely.  It's been one whole week already, and I feel good.  Can I stick to my decision?

Jamie went over to Terry's, after we got home from the park, for 2 hours.

We're completely broke  --  as usual.  Still, the atmosphere around the house this evening is one of contentment, warmth, love.

January 28, 1985
Monday 10 a.m.

A brand new week ... hopefully, a cheerier and more productive week.

Another gray, one-note day. Yesterday we actually had a few snowflakes: I don't think it's that cold today, though. I am just out of bed, and so are my liddle dotters. Kacie, dressed in her Cabbage Patch sweatshirt and multi-colored pants, is prowling around the living room searching for last night's discarded dinner dishes  ...  maybe a forgotten glass of melted ice cubes  ...  maybe a leftover scrap or two. She's not hungry: she just likes to play with the dishes! She loves dishes, toys or real ones, and she's always pretending that she's "cooking."

Jamie is tired and sleepy. Still in her Rainbow Brite nightgown, she's sitting on the living room floor watching "Trivia Trap," drinking an apple juice bottle. (When will she give up the darned BOTTLE??)

It's too early to gauge the mood of this day. We all slept very soundly, and it's taking a little while this morning for the fog to lift ... we're all sleepier than usual. Jamie and Kacie have already had their first squabble of the day, over a banana. A few minutes later Kacie spilled coffee all over a stack of my "paperwork" (coupons, articles, etc.) and I blew my top at her. Still - I have hope for this day. I sense that, under the morning grog, I'm in a fine mood. My mind feels sharper and clearer than usual: I've been "on the wagon" for a week now.

There are a number of projects I would like to tackle today: weight-loss plan and shopping list, coupons, recipes, sort articles, letter to Sue Miseroy in Florida, kitchen cupboards (clean!)

We had a nice weekend. Ray had Friday off, so it was a three day weekend. Jamie had an outing each day. On Friday she and Ray went over to Peg & Don's to visit briefly: Ray had to pick up some money his Dad owed him. While they were there, I had Ray drop off a card and note for Sheryl and Jeff, thereby relieving me of one worry. I hope this gets us off the hook for not visiting them in the hospital. On Saturday, Ray took Jamie to feed the ducks at the Kirkland Marina. I could have joined them, but I chose to stay home and enjoy some quiet time alone while Kacie napped. Yesterday (Sunday) I drove the girls up to the little Ninth Avenue park, to play for an hour and a half. We had the whole park to ourselves, which was nice. The kids ran and played and got completely muddy, with my blessing. They had a ball. While they played, I walked around and did some thinking in that cold winter air. There are some important things on my mind these days, and it felt good to do some "outdoor cogitating."

We were broke (as usual) all weekend but managed (as always) to scrape by. There is still plenty of food in the house. On Saturday night Ray and I split a lovely Portherhouse steak, and last night we just had fat baked potatoes for dinner -- a meal in themselves. I'm off beer completely, but Ray used his pennies for a six-pack of Black Label, to drink while he watched the Pro Bowl on Sunday. But basically we were both stone-cold sober all weekend.

My decision to quit beer for awhile stems from last weekend's "embarrassing incident" and the four-day hangover that followed. All of a sudden, I'm just sick of the taste of alcohol ... I'm sick of the hangovers ... I'm sick of the whole business. I may indulge in an occasional glass of wine from time to time. But other than that I'm off alcohol completely, beer especially. 

I want to lose some weight. I think I may be able to do it, now that I'm not drinking beer. The few times I've attempted to diet seriously, beer has always been my downfall.

I was walking down the hallway the other night, wearing my nightgown, and suddenly I was aware of the fat hanging all over my body ... I could feel it wiggling and jiggling as I walked along, and I felt thick and cumbersome and disgusted with myself. I look so bad. It's gotten to the point where I feel too uncomfortable to leave the house anymore, even to walk across the street to the mailbox. I know how disgusted I've always been by the sight of fat people, and now I'm sure other people feel that way about me. (I'm sure they're sneering behind my back. "How could she let herself GO like that?") So I hide here in my house, safe from stares and snickers. Ray has never complained about my weight. I even delude myself, sometimes, into believing that he likes it. But I'm sure he would be pleased to see me lose some of the blubber.

Gotta go take a shower now & get Jamie dressed.

Diary Entry:

I'm psyching myself up to begin dieting at the end of this week (after payday)  ...   I really believe I can do it this time.  Ray is supportive and encouraging.

Average day.  I made meatloaves this afternoon  --  a large one for Ray and I, a tiny one for the kids.  (Next week will it be DIET meatloaf??)  

Watched a dumb afternoon movie, "All My Darling Daughters"  ...  clipped coupons from the Sunday paper  ...  tried but failed to write some of the letters I owe.  It felt like I picked up the house all day long, but by evening when Ray got home (7:30) the place was still littered with toys and junk.  Hopeless!!

Watched "The American Music Awards" on TV  --  big winners were Prince, Lionel Richie, Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, The Pointer Sisters, Kenny Rogers, Huey Lewis & The News.

January 29, 1985
Tuesday morning

Weird dreams last night: I dreamed that Ray and Pam (a girl from Dave's Place) were spending a lot of time together down at the tavern, and I was jealous. So I moved back into the mildewy apartment I used to share with Terry Hunt, during the summer of 1980,  only now the apartment was filled with my present-day furniture and belongings, and Terry had turned into Ray's sister Patty. There was also something about me getting a job at Lamont's, and a quick visit to the set of "General Hospital," where Rick Springfield told me I was too fat! The whole tone of the dream, as a matter of fact, was that I was fat and ugly and no one wanted me. I woke up feeling melancholy. Who wouldn't, after a dream like that??

I'm getting really psyched-up about starting a new diet at the end of the week. I talked to Ray about it last night;  he was surprisingly supportive and encouraging. He even offered to go on the diet with me. (He's got quite a "beer belly" himself ...!) I'm not going to spend a lot of time writing about it until after the diet has started. I have too many other things to do today. I will say, however, that I hope that once I've lost some weight, I'll begin feeling better about myself. My self-esteem is very low these days. This is reflected in everything from my dreams to my sex life. Maybe once I start feeling better about myself, the weirdly self-berating dreams will cease.

Diary Entry:

Kacie was mischevious all day long: I could barely control her.  Jamie was only a little better.  The two of them together successfully managed to tear their bedrooms apart, threw most of lunch and dinner on the floor and soaked the bathroom carpeting so thoroughly, it squishes under your feet when you walk into the bathroom.  Ray brought them home some Valentine candy: by bedtime they were completely sticky!  (Those sticky-sweet little faces  ...)

Drew up some menu and shopping plans, in preparation for the upcoming diet.  It is slowly turning into a Very Big Deal to me.  I'm still off beer  --  no problem there  --  I'm primed and ready.  This time I'm gonna DO IT!

Jamie turned her empty candy box into a "camera" tonight.

January 30, 1985

Diary Entry:

Spent over 2 hrs. this morning writing a letter to Melinda  ...  then Kacie knocked over my coffee cup and turned the letter into a wet, hopelessly muddled mess.  Then Jamie's soup went on the floor at lunchtime.  HONESTLY!  The coupe de grace was when Jamie decided to "wash her baby's hair"  ...  with baby cream! Took me half an hour to wash the sticky stuff out of the poor dolly's hair.

Baked peanut butter cookies; mailed letters to Mom and Karen; Kacie has a painful diaper area rash, the result (I think) of drinking too much orange juice.

Ray wasn't home until 9:30.

January 31, 1985

Diary Entry:

Another one of "those" days.  I think the girls must be suffering from cabin fever; all this cold winter weather keeps us cooped up indoors, and their usual high spirits are elevated to an almost frantic level.  They literally tore Jamie's room apart today.  At one point Kacie tried to climb Jamie's dresser and brought the whole thing crashing down on top of herself.  It caught her in the chest and pinned her to the floor.  Miraculously, she wasn't hurt at all  --  I still can't believe it  --  not even a scratch.  (Naturally, I was so relieved she wasn't hurt that I spanked them both.)

Ray was home at 7:30  --  I sent him out to grocery shop.

February 1, 1985
Friday morning 8 a.m.

SNOW!!!!!  (On the first of February ?????)

I'm not kidding! We were greeted this morning by a blinding snowstorm, which began around 5 a.m. and continues now, three hours later. We've already got more than two inches and it's still falling. Ray called it a "blizzard." (He left for work at 6:45 a.m., but fifteen minutes later he was back. "I ain't goin' NOWHERE!" he announced happily. Now he's back in bed, reading the newspaper and drinking coffee.) I'm so surprised!  But it's a pleasant surprise. Snow was the last thing in the world I would have expected today, but it's just what we needed to lift us out of the doldrums. The world -- or at least our tiny part of it -- is clean, white, quiet, and very, very lovely.

Once we discovered what was going on outside, no one wanted to sleep. The kids were both up at 7 a.m. I fixed them a hot breakfast of sausage and eggs, and now they're watching kiddie shows on TV and wandering over to the window every few minutes. ("NO!" Kacie says excitedly -- her way of saying "snow.") I scattered some bread crumbs and popcorn on the front porch for the birds and squirrels, so there is plenty of wildlife action going on outside for the girls to watch, too. Between the snow and the birds, Jamie and Kacie are beside themselves with excitement.

The national weather report on TV just said that most of the country is experiencing severe winter storms just like ours.

Diary Entry:

Woke to a lovely surprise this morning  --  snow!  And LOTS of it!!  I could hardly believe my eyes.  The roads were so bad that Ray couldn't drive to work, so he was home with us all day.  Jamie played outside with Terry for a couple of hours  --  they made a snowman in our front yard.  

Ray painted the hallway with the white paint his folks gave us last year: it looks so clean and wonderful!  He says that he'll do the living room and our bedroom this weekend.

Maureen stopped by  --  I gave her $20 for Avon.

"Miami Vice" on TV tonight  --  I LOVE Edward Olmos!  Had TV dinners (Ray and I) for a very late supper.

Kacie said " 'No!" today  --  her way of saying "Snow."

February 2, 1985


Diary Entry:

No snow today: the sun was shining and melted a lot of it away.  Very cold, though. 

Ray painted the living room today while the kids napped  ...  the same white (actually it's more of an off-white) he used for the hallway.  He did a meticulously smooth and even job, and it looks great.

I didn't do much today: worked on (another) letter to Melinda, clipped some recipes, taped a song off the radio ("Naughty Naughty" by John Parr).  Made tacoes for dinner.  I was in bed and asleep by 9:00.

February 3, 1985

Diary Entry:

Ray painted our bedroom today.  He wasn't able to find a blue-gray paint (my first choice) at a price he could afford, so he painted it the same off-white he used on the hallway and living room.  We also moved our bedroom furniture around in a different way.  The result is a very nice looking bedroom!  The bad news, however:  I washed our (dry clean only) curtains, and they shrunk terribly  --  they look awful.  Also: the vacuum cleaner appears to be inoperably damaged, so I can't vacuum anything.  (S--t!!!)

I spent my day reading a book my mother-in-law loaned me about the late Montgomery Clift.  Still haven't started my diet because Ray still hasn't bought my protein powder (said he will tomorrow).  Big steaks for dinner, French fries and salad.

February 4, 1985
Monday morning

The aftermath of the weekend:

... a disheveled house
... freshly-painted walls in the hallway, living room & our bedroom
... three baskets of laundry -- two clean, one dirty
... a melting snowman in the front yard
... the lingering odor of fresh paint, taco meat, broiled steak, onions, laundry detergent, coffee
... the kids have colds, and I have no energy

I have a billion things to do today and ought to get started NOW!

Diary Entry:

Well  --  I finally heard from The Institute for Children's Literature, about the test I sent in 1/10  --  they welcomed me to join their correspondence course  ...  for a mere $530!!!!!!!!!!   Needless to say, that's the end of THAT idea.

I spent a lot of time today fixing up our bedroom.  With the paint job and the new furniture arrangement, it looks and feels like a whole new room.  I love it.

Got an unexpected letter from Melinda  --  she sent me a bunch of coupons, including one for a free pair of children's tennis shoes.

Snowed again tonight.  I made a chicken pot pie for dinner.  No diet yet.

February 5, 1985

Diary Entry:

More snow.  It's getting wetter, though, and melting faster.  Jamie has a little head cold  --  I gave her some Children's Tylenol and rubbed her chest with Vicks.  Kacie doesn't appear to be sick at all, thank goodness.  Spent the day doing little odds and ends of housework.  Watched a Wonderworks special on PBS, "Bridge to Terebithia." Finished a letter to Melinda.  Got a letter from Georgia Rodriguez in Illinois  --  her baby is due in May.

Made porkchops for dinner, which I despise  --  we're running out of food already, and payday is more than a week away.  Baked peanut butter cookies for the kids.  Terry came over to visit.

February 6, 1985
Wednesday morning 8:30 a.m.

Sitting by the living room window, watching what may prove to be the final snowfall of the season ... small flakes, shooting directly down from the sky like icy bullets ... it is beautiful to watch, but sad also, because I know it's probably the end of the snow ...

Jamie is sitting at the table eating a bowl of Alpha Bits (no milk, per her request). She woke me up a short time ago, when I heard her shouting something at the TV. I was having awful dreams anyhow -- I dreamed that Grandma St. John died -- so I decided to get up. The falling snow took me by surprise. I thought it was all over and done with. This is like a special "P.S." from God.

A Jamie monologue:

"I don't see no CARS. Cuz cars are missin'? Cars, cars, cars! Let's go see Nissus Rogers. Oo! Eee! Daddy couldn't drive in him's car? So him's friend got him? What him's friend name? Huh? Mike Pan-mer? Why you call him dat? Him's name not dat! Him's friend name GRAMMA BEESON! Ha ha ha!"

Ray did a lovely job of painting the hallway, living room and our bedroom, all in off-white. I'm so pleased with the results, in our room especially. We moved our bedroom furniture around a new way, too, and I threw out a lot of junk that had been cluttering our bedroom and giving it a messy, juvenile appearance. The result is a clean, pretty, grown-up bedroom: a nice potted plant, a couple of framed pictures on the big dresser, more framed pictures on the walls.

("Am I a ferry GOOD Mama, Mama?")

My vacuum cleaner is "down" again -- this time is appears to be down for the count. Keeping the house vacuumed is the only housecleaning chore that I'm fanatical about, so the loss of my vacuum cleaner comes as a blow.

The diet has been postponed -- Ray never bought me the stuff I need. The Slimfast protein powder alone costs $13, and he balked at that. He did get me some Dexatrim, though. (The only thing I don't like about Dexatrim is the nervous, jumpy way it makes me feel.) Ray said that next payday for sure he'll get everything I need, and then my diet can begin in earnest. In the meantime, I'm making a casual effort to cut down on calories, move around more, drink lots of water. I've also switched to diet pop, which may not sound like much but which is an achievement in and of itself.

There was a big article in the newspaper the other day about how cold, snowy weather causes people to eat more and become less active physically, thereby putting on weight. It's universal: it happens all around the world (in places with cold winters, that is). Somehow I found that oddly comforting.

Now Kacie is up. With her messy braids,  long pink nightgown and huge blue eyes, she looks like a little porcelain doll. She sits next to me, nestled into the crook of my arm, happily chewing on a cinnamon roll. She looks up at me occasionally and smiles, her mouth covered with butter and crumbs. She is so dear to me. The crabbiness and moodiness -- hers, not mine! -- have leveled off, and she has once again become sweet-natured, friendly, affectionate and completely charming. She wants to be at my side nearly every moment of the day. We play funny little games together: we talk on the toy phone ... I whisper in her ear ... she examines my necklace and earrings ... I poke her belly button with my finger ... she jabbers at me in her funny baby language, increasingly peppered now with "real" words. She loves zippers, necklaces, blankets of any kind ("deh-deh" is how she says blanket), shoes and socks, crayons, TV commercials, the song "Ghostbusters," little dolls, hats, airplanes, her new toothbrush, kitties, balloons, cookies, toy dishes. She has learned to close doors, but she can't open them yet. She can climb into her crib, but she can't climb back out. She can turn the TV on and off. She loves photographs of herself, and she can't resist a mirror. Jamie is still very important to her - as a playmate, and (increasingly) as a role model. But now ... finally ... Mama has also become her friend.

Diary Entry:

One last flurry of snow this morning, then it rained for the rest of the day and washed it all away.  Extremely average day.  Jamie and Kacie put together a row of big cardboard boxes, as a "choo choo train," and played with it ceaselessly, Jamie sitting in one box, Kacie in another.  I put a diaper on Jamie's doll, "Maggie," and Jamie pretended to be "Mrs. Jones" all day long.  She kept asking me, "Am I a FERRY good Mama, Mom?"

The pain in my side is back.  I know I vowed not to write about my little aches andpains, but I'm starting to get a bit scared about this one.  Any sudden intake of breath (a sneeze, a yawn, a cough) and it's like a knife in the ribs.

February 7, 1985

Diary Entry:

In excruciating pain this morning.  Wish I could see a doctor!! 

I didn't do a thing today, partly because of the pain in my side, partly because I'm feeling "blue."  The girls and I napped most of the afternoon.  Maurren stopped by just after I got up from my nap  --  I looked terrible!  --  apparently just to "chat."  I owe her $7.00 still, but she made no mention of it.  I'm not used to having conversations with adult women anymore, and I was very uncomfortable.  (She thinks the pain in my side might be pleurisy!)  I was glad when she left.

Pain lessened considerably by evening.

February 8, 1985
Friday 8:20 a.m.

Jamie is playing with her Alpha Bits ... identifying the cereal letters and then requesting that I write them down for her. (She has correctly identified J, P, B and A so far.) She sings her alphabet flawlessly, but now she's beginning to connect the song to the actual written letters! Time, I think, to get her some alphabet magnets.

Ray said last night that I can have $200 out of the income tax refund, due later this month. I am elated. Please, Lord ... let this be one promise that sticks.

Diary Entry:

The pain in my side has disappeared again, leaving me completely perplexed!  But relieved! 

I did a lot of stuff today  --  cleaned out some kitchen cupboards and the kitchen "junk drawer"  ...  baked the kids a few (very plain) cookies  ...  finished letters to Georgia Rodriguez and Sue Miseroy.  Mourning the loss of my vacuum   --  the carpeting is a MESS.

Ray wasn't home until very late, but I enjoyed a little time to myself.  I cooked a piece of chicken for dinner, sorted through a box of old letters, watched some excellent TV  --  "Dallas" and "Miami Vice," which gets better every week.

February 9, 1985

Diary Entry:

Another flurry of snow, early this a.m.  Every time I think we've seen the last of it, there's more.  Today's snow was very wet and gloppy, gone by noon.  Ray went out and got doughnuts for breakfast.  Terry took Jamie to Ericka's for 3 hrs. this morning.  When she got home, Jay and I layed down on my bed together and took a long nap.  Lazy day, basically.  Ray did the dishes for me and cooked dinner (hamburgers, homemade fries and onion rings) so I could just laze around. 

Watched an old favorite movie on TV this evening, "Support Your Local Sheriff," then the stupid "Love Boat" and "Finder of Lost Loves."  Wish I had a really engrossing book to read.

February 10, 1985

Jamie P., three years old ... wearing Daddy's huge, baggy white T-shirt, bare feet, clean long hair tumbling to the middle of her back ... hears a siren wailing in the distance, asks me worriedly "Maybe somebody got hurt?" ("Maybe the sirens are going to help them," I reply) ... dances to a new song she likes by Madonna ("Dis is ME-donna!" she announces happily) ... her doll, "Maggie," is her constant companion -- this morning Maggie is resplendent in one of Kacie's outgrown baby dresses and a straw cowboy hat. "My baby's havin' Christmas to-day!" she says. She tenderly puts her baby down for a nap on the camphor chest, then dashes over to me and peers closely at my face. "I wanna see Jamie in you eyes!" she says, looking for her reflection in the blue eyes of her mother. (I can see my own pale, unwashed face in her huge, chocolate-brown eyes.)

This day is just beginning. Kacie, the only person dressed so far this morning -- all in pink -- has pushed one of the little red chairs over to the kitchen table, and is standing on it next to me, grinning widely and peering at my notebook, my coffee, proud of herself for figuring out a way to meet me at eye-level ...

Diary Entry:

Pleasant day  ...  Sunday papers to read, old movies on TV ("Young Mr. Lincoln," "Yours, Mine & Ours").  Ray worked most of the day cleaning out the carport and the shed.  I found a $20 bill in the laundry, which was a godsend  --  Ray used it to buy groceries.  I tried drinking a couple of beers this afternoon but discovered that it tasted positively VILE.  Rather than feeling disappointed, I was glad to discover my taste for the stuff has vanished: I happily drank pop for the rest of the evening.  Made meatloaf for supper. 

Very sad movie on TV tonight, "Surviving" (Molly Ringwald, Zach Galligan, Marsha Mason, Ellen Burstyn), about teen suicide.

February 11, 1985

Diary Entry:

Ray has to be at work at 5 a.m. every day this week, and won't be getting off until after 5 p.m.   

Mailed some Valentines to our niece and nephews   --  also mailed letters to my pen pals Melinda, Sue and Georgia.  The hot water in the bathtub is leaking, which makes it impossible to get enough hot water for a shower, a load of laundry or the dishes.  Think we need a plumber! 

Debbie DeVaney paid me a compliment in her letter today, regarding my writing: she said it was "crisp and alive," and that I have a "super vocabulary."  She's the only published writer I know personally, so I regard it as high praise.  I've got a basic idea for a short story, but am having some trouble getting it onto paper.

Ray borrowed his mom's vacuum  --  it's mine until Thursday.  Wish it were mine permanently.

February 12, 1985

Diary Entry:

Made some "Valentine bookmarks," with the kids' pictures on them, and mailed them to Mom and Gram St. John; also a letter to Gram Vert.  

Cleaned house, top to bottom, using Peg's vacuum cleaner  --  did the girls' rooms, too.  The hot water is still all screwed up but somehow I managed to do two loads of laundry.  Busy, busy.  

Took a break this afternoon and went out in the backyard with Jamie for awhile  ...  we sat at the picnic table and talked.  She is quite the conversationalist!

Made little pigs in a blanket and au gratin potatoes for Ray's supper, which he loved.  He is worn out and sore from 10 hr. days at work.  I'm concerned about him.

February 13, 1985

Diary Entry:

Took the girls for a walk this morning: Jamie held one hand, Kacie held the other, and we slowly plodded our way up the street and back.  The kids adored it.  Stopped next door at the Harlans and finally got a glimpse of little Katie: she's very sweet, all blonde hair and blue eyes. 

Jamie was "More-EEN" all day today  --  her alter-ego, Maureen The Avon Lady.  When I asked her to "be Jamie" again, she go mad!  So I guess "More-EEN" is here to stay for awhile.

The kids got Valentines from Ray's grandparents, Gram St. John and Valerie, which I taped to the fridge for display.  Ray was home at 7:00  --  I fried chicken for dinner.

My period hit early and unexpectedly, but no cramps.

February 14, 1985

Diary Entry:

The girls and I made Valentines for Ray this morning  --  even Kacie took a turn, scribbling with a crayon.  The results were very cute and Ray loved them. 

This was payday, so I spent a lot of time today making shopping lists and sorting through coupons  --  needlessly, as it turned out, since Ray was home late and didn't do any shopping tonight.  (Hope he does it TOMORROW because we're low on everything.)  He did, however, stop by G.O. Guy Drugs and pick up the four rolls of film I had developed  --  delightful pictures of the kids last summer, Christmas, etc.  There is one picture of Kacie looking in a mirror that is VERY special.

February 15, 1985

Diary Entry:

Beautiful sunny day, but bitterly cold.  Jamie and Kacie wanted to go outside and play, but within 15 minutes the cold drove them back indoors!

Routine day.  I wrote some letters, sorted negatives, did laundry.  Both Terry and her mom Judy were over this evening to visit  ...  Terry played with the girls, Judy and I discussed our plumbing problems. 

Ray was home at 9:30.  He bought a pizza (Godfather's  ...  yuck), we drank a few beers  --  I know I shouldn't have, but I couldn't resist  --  and watched "Miami Vice."  (Gregory Sierra instead of Edward James Olmos: it wasn't as good.)  Jamie fell asleep early but Kacie was a little night-owl, playing with her Daddy until very late.

February 16, 1985

Diary Entry:

Ray worked today  ...  I felt run-down and tired but managed to get a few "little" things done (planted an avocado seed, made Jell-O for the kids, revised the grocery list).  Jamie went to Ericka's for a few hours, and then this evening Ray took her to McDonald's to pick up dinner for the family. 

Quiet, pleasant evening  --  Ray and I watched "The Birds"  --  first time I'd ever seen it.

Jamie has another new personality  ...  "Dr. Jones."  That makes four now: More-EEN, Mrs. Jones, Jamie and Dr. Jones.

February 17, 1985

The kids have pushed the ottoman out here to the kitchen and are sitting on it, side by side, pretending it's their "boat." They are both in boisterous spirits today. It's too early to tell what kind of mood I'm in. I watch the two of them charging around the house, and I wonder what it would be like to have that much energy, first thing in the morning ...

Diary Entry:

Distinct lack of energy today  ...  final day of my period, and I felt crabby and out-of-sorts.  I longed to be ALONE!  Most of the time I adore my family, but today I felt crowded by them, wished they would just go away for a day and let me have some time to myself.  Ashamed of myself for feeling that way, but there it is.

Ray finally did some grocery shopping.  As usual, he pretty much ignored my careful shopping list and just bought whatever caught his eye.  (Porkchops  ...  chili beans  ...  pot pies.)  He did get me the $20 money order I'd requested, though: I'm ordering some bras from Lane Bryant.  And he finally got the protein powder for my diet, which will begin on Tuesday.  I'm not as psyched about it now as I was last week  --  I've lost some momentum  --  but it's worth a shot.

February 18, 1985

Diary Entry:

President's Day  --  also another day off for Ray.  He was busy all day raking leaves, making chili, fixing the hot water and finishing up the grocery shopping.  Compared to him, I was a lazybones!  (I took the kids to the park at noon, then spent the rest of the afternoon napping.  I'm SO TIRED TODAY.)

Cute Jamie words:

"May-pup" (makeup)
"Hossibull" (hospital)
"Dockers" (doctors)
"Uh-oh, spaghetti hose!"
"Rock-a-ROW!"  (rock and roll)
"Piss" (kiss)
"Bress-buss" (breakfast)
"Minnow" (window)

February 19, 1985

Diary Entry:

After much delay, my diet finally began today.  I had the protein powder (mixed with skim milk) for breakfast and lunch, and ate nothing during the day.  There was tons of housework and laundry to keep me busy, so I couldn't dwell on food.  This evening I ate dinner with Ray  --  BLT's (mine was mostly lettuce and tomato, with diet mayo).  The only real crisis points today were around 3 p.m. when I craved a sandwich (but resisted), and then immediately after dinner when I wanted something sweet (but resisted again).  When the bad moments struck, I pictured myself the way I'd like to be this summer: 125 lbs., new clothes, new haircut, smiling, admired, proud  ...  and that helped give me the strength that I needed.

February 20, 1985

Diary Entry:

Something is ALWAYS breaking around this house: last week my vacuum cleaner, and today the washing machine!!!!  Water and soapsuds came gushing out of the bottom halfway through the first wash cycle this morning, while I was washing a few odds and ends.  Ray says not to use it anymore, until he gets a chance to "look at it."  (Which could be a month from now.)  What a pain.

Nice letter from Mom today.  She and Ken have moved to Federal Way  --  Debi might move back in with them  --  Dick and Gina are living together again.  (I love family gossip!)  Also a letter from Karen, same old stuff.

The diet goes on, and so far no slip-ups.  I LIKE the protein powder: it tastes like a chocolate milkshake.  Lean steaks (roundsteak, broiled) and salad for dinner, Jell-O (low-cal) for dessert.

February 21, 1985
Thursday morning

Well, there's nothing like starting off the day by making a big fat fool out of yourself, is there?  (Good morning!)

We've been having plumbing problems for the last two weeks ... the hot water leaks in the bathtub, which saps all the hot water for dishes, laundry and showers. And then yesterday we also had trouble with the washing machine. Ray has been trying to fix things as best he can. He got our hot water back, for one thing: now the tub is only leaking cold water, a slight improvement. Anyway. A few minutes ago I tried turning on the water in the bathroom to wash my face. No water. The pipes gave a huge, moaning sound, and then ... nothing. I ran all around the house, trying every faucet. Nothing! No water at all.

Furious, I threw some clothes on and stormed over to Mrs. Kennedy's house to call Ray. I figured that one of two things must have happened: either Ray's amateur plumbing had gone awry and busted the works, or else Kirkland Utilities had cut us off for non-payment again. Either way, I was pissed. I had no emergency water stashed in the fridge, and I couldn't get through a day with two babies and no running water.

The receptionist at Western Kraft was completely snotty and said I couldn't speak to Ray. ("No, you may NOT!" she said. "Hey!" I snarled at her in reply.  "I'm calling from a neighbor's phone, and this is an emergency." That put her into a royal snit, and she transferred me to Ray's supervisor  ...  who wouldn't let me talk to Ray, either!  ("He's busy," the supervisor snapped.) Exasperated, I gave him the Kennedy's phone number and asked that Ray call me there in five minutes.

I hung up the phone and went into the Kennedy's living room to wait for Ray's call. Mrs. Kennedy gently asked me what was wrong, and her kindness did me in: I burst into tears and began to tell her about our plumbing problems.

"Oh no!" she interrupted me, as I told her about the water being cut off. "There's nothing wrong with your plumbing ... it's a broken water main, down the street!"


I was too embarrassed to wait for Ray's phone call - not after the big stink I'd made on the phone with the people at Western Kraft Mrs. Kennedy gave me a pan of water, enough to last the morning, and offered to explain the situation to Ray when he called. Embarrassed, grateful and relieved, I fled her house with my precious water and came home to the girls. When oh when will I learn to stop and evaluate a situation before running to Ray for help???

Oh well. Let this be something to laugh about later. It reminds me of the time back in 1980, when I was sharing the apartment with Terry and I came home from paying a $200 phone bill to discover our phone was out of order. I immediately called the phone company (from work) and began to chew them out thoroughly, only to be informed a little while later by the apartment manager that the phones were out all over the complex. It was some kind of phone company malfunction.

The girls are sitting here at the table with me, coloring and chattering. "Know what? My friends have color crayons too!" Jamie says. ("Oh, sis wees gis pwis sis!" Kacie says conversationally in reply.) Lately we've been getting up earlier and earlier in the mornings ... no more lolling around in bed every morning until 10 a.m. This morning it was 7:30 when I heard Jamie turn on the TV, which of course had Kacie awake minutes afterward. Our new "schedule" means that Kacie is napping by noon, which is good and bad. (Good because it gives me some relatively "free" time while I'm still energetic enough to use it ... bad because it means she's awake at 3 p.m., when I'm feeling my most lethargic.)

Jamie just amazed me by drawing a completely recognizable face -- complete with eyes, eyebrows, nose, ears, mouth and hair. It is astonishingly good!

Diary Entry:

The water was off for a long time this morning.  I borrowed Mrs. Kennedy's phone and tried calling Ray at work for help, but Mrs. K told me that a water main had broken, up the road  --  everybody's water was off temporarily, not just mine.  It was back on by noon. 

"Regular" day  ...  no ups and no downs.  Made a big pot of spaghetti sauce, wrote to Mom, made an "incentives book" to help me with my diet.  Terry came by, seeking help with her poetry homework.  Jamie surprised me by drawing a wonderful "face" with her crayons, complete with eyes, eyebrows, nose, ears, mouth.  Will she inherit her Mama's artistic talent?

Ray was home at 8:00.  We had spaghetti and salad for supper.  I ate a moderate portion, resisted second helpings.

February 22, 1985
Friday morning

Next day ... same time, same place, except that today the girls are munching on cinnamon toast instead of coloring pictures, and my water is running just fine, thank you.

Mom: "Can you say Mama?"
Kacie: "Mama!"
Mom: "Can you say Daddy?"
Kacie: "Dada!"
Mom: "Can you say Jamie?"
Kacie: "Sis-see."

Rainy, nondescript morning. Feeling vaguely nauseous from my diet pill and a hurried cup of coffee ... I want to sit here quietly until the queasiness goes away. My diet began on Tuesday. So far things have been going fairly OK ... I'm still feeling motivated and full of incentive.  I WANT TO LOOK GOOD BY THIS SUMMER!!!

Shit. The nausea won't go away.

Ten Minutes Later:

All of a sudden this has turned into a lousy morning. First, I threw up (no more Dexatrim on an empty stomach), and then Jamie informed me that "there's too much water in the potty." The whole damned thing is stopped up. It's a disgusting mess, and I don't have the faintest idea how to fix it.

This has been so strange lately: everything in the bathroom -- all sources of water, I mean -- have gone on the blink, one by one. First the water faucets in the tub, then the washing machine, now the toilet. Do we have some really colossal plumbing problems that we don't even know about??


I fixed the toilet, thanks to the help of a plunger I found in the carport. And I found some Alka-Seltzer in the cupboards, which has helped my stomach and my head. (No, I'm not pregnant. I just shouldn't have taken that stupid diet pill on an empty stomach.)

Diary Entry:

Rainy.  Not one of the world's great mornings.  My diet pill, on an empty stomach, made me violently nauseous  --  I got sick a couple of times.  Then Jamie gravely informed me that there was "too much water in the potty."  The whole $%#& thing was stopped up!  (Just the thing for a queasy stomach!!)  Managed to fix it, though. 

Things improved later in the day.  I borrowed Lori Harlan's vacuum cleaner and did my whole house.  Whew.  Then I got a two-page letter from my sister-in-law, chatty and friendly.  (Don Jr. has recovered from his burns.)   The kids were busy and silly all evening, greatly raising my spiritis  ...  they are quite an entertaining pair of little monkeys.  

Spent most of my evening taping songs, then watched "Miami Vice" (EJO was back).

February 23, 1985
Saturday morning

Have you ever had a dream that was so vivid, and so pleasant, that when you woke up you wanted to cry because it was only a dream ... ? Or how about this: you dream about someone you haven't seen in years, and for the rest of the day that person is on your mind ... ? I had dreams all night about George Stonesifer. He was a guy I dated during my "wild oats" summer of 1980  ...  a tall gorgeous guy with the most glorious long blond hair,  full and wavy as a lion's mane ... dimpled chin ... blue eyes the color of faded denim ... (sigh)

But back to reality. My reality this morning: Kacie, fuzzy braids and blue shirt, eating a bowl of Pac Man cereal beside me here at the table ... Jamie has gone to Erica's house to play ... dreams are just dreams. Everything that is real to me is here in this kitchen, solid and ordinary and tangible. Time to put George back in the memory closet and get on with my day.

Will we receive our income tax refund today? Ray and I are counting on it, and I've been predicting all along that it would arrive on the last Saturday of February (which is today). I've got $250 coming, Ray has promised.


I am fighting to regain my good mood, but it may be a losing battle, I fear.

I felt so good this morning. Jamie was over at Erica's for five hours today -- I spent half that time with Kacie, and the other half alone while she napped. I moved my living room furniture around, planned what I'm going to do with my money (clothes - picture frames - plants), taped some songs off of radio station KKMI (oldies but goodies). Kacie and I had a lot of fun together. She can repeat virtually any word you give her to say now: you can see her vocabulary expanding by the minute. (She even said "Good cracker!" today.)

Then the mail came. First of all, we didn't get our tax refund, which immediately plunged me into despair. I was so sure it would come today. Then, a letter from Melinda, informing me that our pen pal club ("Sealed Sunshine") is folding. I don't know why, but that made me feel almost as glum as not getting our check did.

Ray isn't home yet. It's quarter to five now ... I'm smoking my next-to-last cigarette, Kacie is wearing her next-to-last diaper. I'm not sure but I think we're broke. We spent last weekend's paycheck in a hurry - partly because we were so sure our refund would show up this weekend. I don't know what we're going to do now. Ray is going to flip when he gets home and finds out the check didn't arrive.

I'm hungry, but I'm trying to ignore it. That isn't so easy: I'm cooking bacon and french toast for the kids' supper, and the delicious smells are making my stomach turn cartwheels. I've fixed myself some coffee ... maybe that will help.

Diary Entry:

Ray worked today, and Jamie spent almost six hours at Ericka's  ...  that meant that most of my day was spent with Kacie, and then when she napped I had some time to myself.  (Either way, it was nice.)  I taped more songs from the radio, moved the living room furniture around a little, waited for the mail. 

To my GREAT disappointment we didn't get our income tax refund today.  I was so sure it would be here today.  Also got a brief letter from Melinda, telling me that our penpal club ("Sealed Sunshine") has folded from lack of interest  ...  sad news. 

Felt kind of flat and depressed this evening.  Ray didn't come home, so I just baked myself one of those frozen meat pies, watched "Love Boat" and went to bed.  When Ray finally came home he slept on the sofa  --  Jamie crawled into my bed with me.

February 24, 1985

Diary Entry:

Very broke.  No disposable diapers for Kacie, so I had to put her in the old cloth ones: when they were soiled I tried to launder them, but the washing machine is now completely screwed up and it flooded the bathroom again, dammit.  (For a little while I even had to put her in a TOWEL until her real diapers dried.)  Finally Ray and Jamie went over to the folks', to drop off some dirty laundry (Peg offered to do it) and borrow $15 for diapers and groceries.

Cooked a small roast for dinner.  So far the diet is still going well.  I wish I had a scale, though, so I could see if I'm really losing weight.

February 25, 1985

Diary Entry:

OK day.  Got the housework done early  --  so the house was looking really nice (I even did windows) when my father-in-law dropped by unexpectedly, just to visit.  He stayed for about 45 minutes; Kacie was napping, but Jamie got to spend some time with her Grandpa.

Got my first issue of "Writer's Digest" in the mail today.  What a great magazine!

Ray was home around 6:00 with the clean laundry he'd picked up at this parents' house.  I made meatballs for supper.  Late tonight I cheated on the diet by having a sandwich and part of a candy bar  ...  I don't know what came over me.  I paid for it, though: I was up half the night with a rotten stomach ache.

February 26, 1985

Diary Entry:

Sent an anniversary card and letter to Don Jr. and Judy this morning  --  also two Book Club orders.  

Depressed about the way the place looks: with no washer, the laundry has really piled up, and with no vacuum the rugs are a mess.  I feel like I'm losing control of things: if I can't keep my house clean, I have no control over anything.

Awful evening.  Ray came home at 8:00, just as I'd started watching the Grammys  ...  he hadn't gotten diapers or milk, both of which we needed, and then he jumped all over ME  ...  said it was my fault for taking $20 last week and ordering those bras.  Then he MADE me go over to Terry's house and ask to borrow money.  I did, in tears.  Judy was kind and sympathetic and gave me all she had, six dollars.  When I got home I called Ray a choice word and we didn't speak for the remainder of the evening.  He is a CLOD.  Sometimes I hate him.

February 27, 1985

Diary Entry:

This is my brother's 26th birthday.  Wish I had a way to reach him, but I don't have a phone and I haven't got his address.  Also Don and Julie's 6th wedding anniversary. 

Happy surprise today (and I really needed one)  --  finally took a look at the old typewriter Mom gave me six months ago, and discovered (to my astonishment) that it's perfect!  All it needs is a ribbon! Yay.

Judy S. did a load of laundry for me this evening, which was nice but also mortifying, considering that she loaned us money last night.  She must think I'm an awful pest. 

Baked some fish for dinner, but it smelled so horrible that I didn't have the stomach to eat it.  When Ray came home at 10:30, he wouldn't eat it either!  He was in a good mood, though  --  sober  --  and apologetic about last night, blaming his long hours at work for his "grouchiness."  Said he's going to get me a vacuum, washer AND dryer this weekend.

February 28, 1985

Diary Entry:

Things are looking up a little.  Today was payday, so even though we haven't gotten our tax refund, at least we've got money again. 

I was pretty lazy today.  I think all the dieting is running me down a little  --  watched a silly movie, "The Girl Most Likely To" (Stockard Channing), didn't do housework until late afternoon, then took a nap. 

Ray was home at 7:00 with a few groceries  --  in a wonderful mood  --  I sent him back out to try and find me a typewriter ribbon for Mom's machine.  He found one that fits, but then we realized we also have to get an empty spool to run the ribbon on.  I was a little disappointed  ...  I was hoping to get the typewriter working tonight, but I've gone this long without one, I suppose another day won't kill me.

March 1, 1985
Friday morning 9:30 a.m.

A chilly, overcast morning. Jamie woke me at 7:30 -- I wanted to stay in my warm bed and finish my dream about John Lennon, but sleep wouldn't resume so I crawled out of bed. I've got a headache and a teensy, tiny hangover: last night Ray brought home some light beer (96 calories) and I indulged. I haven't had alcohol in quite a while, and it only took a couple of beers to make me light-headed. It was a "payday evening" and the mood was festive, so I couldn't resist. Now I wish I had resisted. The house is messy, there's laundry to be folded, and I'm supposed to make a beef stew this morning ... but I feel thick and slow and tired. If I'm even showered and dressed by noon, it will be a small miracle.

The house is a jumble. On the living room floor: a green, yellow and white baby afghan, a pillow without pillowcase, Jamie's muddy blue tennis shoes, Kacie's Tyke Bike, a nearly-deflated red balloon, a large cardboard box with Kacie's "deh-deh" in it, a crumpled piece of paper, Maggie, a Mickey Mouse storybook ("The Haunted House"), a pink wool cap, a pot-holder, another small pillow without a pillowcase, Jamie's fuzzy coat, my Raggedy Andy doll and a few of Kacie's toy dishes.

On the kitchen table: a rumpled pink hand towel, an ashtray containing one Marlboro cigarette butt, my book ("The Second Twelve Months") and Jamie's book ("The Sesame Street Yearbook"); part of last night's newspaper, an envelope from my pen pal Sheryl in Florida, a Viacom bill, some blank Western Kraft invoices and a basket of fabric vegetables.

On the kitchen counters: half a pot of coffee, a bag of green bananas, an unopened can of Kal Kan cat food, one of Kacie's shirts, a grocery list, an old Polaroid snapshot of the girls, a few dirty dishes, my Mom's old portable typewriter, a new black typewriter ribbon, an unripe avocado, a can of Slim-Fast, a crockpot cookbook, two garbage bags and a box of generic facial tissue.

On top of the piano: a book my mother loaned me ("Lord of the Far Islands" by Victoria Holt), a letter from my sixth grade teacher, a wicker basket full of makeup, a yellow Tommee Tippee cup half-full of old Kool Aid, a ponytail holder, a small black mirror and Mom's Happy Book.

At least I don't have to worry about laundry or vacuuming today ... the washing machine is still broken, and we threw the vacuum cleaner away (it was a piece of JUNK). If I just get the dishes done, throw some meat and vegetables into the crockpot for tonight's dinner, and keep an eye on the girls today, I will consider this day adequately spent.

Kacie has learned to open (some) doors. She just opened the kitchen door and is standing now on the porch, ignoring my pleas for her to come back in the house.

Diary Entry:

Average day  ...  spent it doing little odds and ends of housework, including making a crockpot full of beef stew (delicious).

Ray didn't come home tonight.  Jamie and I sat up and watched "The Wizard of Oz."  "Ooooh Mama!  Dis is a scary movie!" she said when the Wicked Witch was attempting to dispose of Dorothy and her friends.  Toto was her favorite character.

Jay went to bed at 10, so I watched my beloved "Miami Vice" in solitude.  It's been years since I've been so thoroughly addicted to a television show  ...  it's almost embarrassing to admit!

March 2, 1985

Diary Entry:

Ray came home about 10:00 this morning and immediately went to bed for the rest of the day (said he'd been "too drunk to drive" last night).  When he was asleep and Kacie was down for a nap, I grabbed Jamie and the two of us drove to G.O. Guy to spend some money.  I bought another spool for the typewriter, a big photo album, a hanging kitchen basket, felt pens, Play-Doh for Jamie, envelopes, a new journal, magazines and beer.  Once home, I finally got Mom's typewriter working.  Hurray!!!

Tonight  --  on a whim  --  Ray and I decided to go down to the tavern for awhile.  It's been ages since I'd been there.  We sat and talked to some people, drank a few beers (my diet was suspended temporarily) and watched "Cujo" on cable.  Terry watched the kids for us.

March 3, 1985

Diary Entry:

Weak as a kitten today.  I felt absolutely horrible all day long  ...  spent most of the day laying on my bed trying to read magazines and keep an eye on the girls.  Ray was no help: he slept on the sofa all day.

Later in the afternoon he went to Taco Time and picked up some dinner, also a few groceries.  We were all in bed by 9:00.

March 4, 1985
Monday morning

Trying desperately to wake up enough to get my day started ... maybe some hot coffee and a few words in my journal will help. I abused my body all weekend, and today I feel dazed, stiff, sore and exhausted.

Jamie just found CeCe in Kacie's closet, where she apparently has just given birth to three kittens. "I foun' some baby KITTENS in Sissy's closet!" Jamie shouted happily. Oh boy.

Diary Entry:

Trying to get back to normal today  ...  still feeling the residual effects of Saturday night.

CeCe had a litter of kittens in Kacie's closet this morning  ...  two black ones, one gray & white one.  Jamie was the one who discovered them, much to her delight!  I had to keep Kacie's bedroom door locked to prevent Jamie from "loving" the newborn kitties to death!

The girls and I took a long nap this afternoon.  Rainy, stormy day.

Ray took all the dirty clothes (three baskets' worth) to a laundromat this evening  --  washed and dried EVERYTHING.

How long will it be before I have a washer again??

March 5, 1985
Tuesday morning

Still agonizingly stiff and sore. Frankly I don't really know - or remember - what it was I did this past weekend to make my muscles ache like this. Most of the weekend is a blur.

I slept lousy last night, too. Before bed I transferred the box of kittens from Kacie's closet to a corner of the living room. CeCe spent a good part of the night parading up and down the hallway outside our door, yowling at the top of her lungs. I'd get out of bed, scold her, let her outside for a brief run, fix her a saucer of milk ... but nothing worked for very long, and pretty soon she'd start yowling again. Amazingly, it never woke Ray or the kids ... just me.

Ray took all the dirty clothes and towels to a laundromat last night. Today I've got the massive job of dying and folding all of it. I'd also like to borrow Lori H.'s vacuum cleaner and do the whole house. Should be a busy day, if I don't fade away this afternoon.

There are two black kittens and one gray and white one -- a standard litter for CeCe. Jamie and I named them this morning: Coffeepot, Cocoa and Cloudy. Dumb names, I know, but they're only temporary!! I tried explaining to Jamie that eventually we'll have to find homes for the kitties. She was near tears. "But dose baby kitties can live here wif us!" she said sorrowfully. So I just dropped the issue for now.

Kacie hasn't even discovered them yet (thank goodness). She's too engrossed in her toast, juice and "Sesame Street" to even notice the cardboard box sitting behind the fireplace. I don't know how she'll react when she finally does notice them. Our last kitten was Lucy, last summer. Kacie probably has no memory of her at all anymore. The kittens will be a brand-new experience as far as she's concerned.

Diary Entry:

Better.  We finally got our income tax refund in the mail today!!  (I won't get my money until tomorrow, though.  Now Ray is saying I might not get the whole $250 he promised me, which has me vaguely depressed.)  Folded all the laundry  --  borrowed Lori Harlan's vacuum cleaner and did the whole house  --  worked on my new photo album. Maureen stopped by briefly to visit this afternoon.

Ray went out and got a few groceries tonight. Cooked BBQ'd chicken drumsticks (with my own special sauce) and low-cal scalloped potatoes.

Jamie played "Library" and "Dave's Place" all evening.

March 6, 1985
Wednesday morning

This journal is drawing to a close, I see. Seven months of my life, contained within these pages ... I didn't always write as consistently as I wanted to, but overall I like the things I wrote in this notebook, especially the things about Jamie and Kacie. In years to come, will I be glad I chronicled their lives so thoroughly?  Absolutely.

At the moment the kids are holed up in Jamie's room, playing with toy dishes and jabbering at each other ... Jamie's bossy voice, Kacie's completely unconcerned, cheerful voice ... I know the bedroom will be a shambles by the time they finally emerge. The two of them put together have the destructive force of a wrecking ball. Then they'll move on to Kacie's room ... sigh.

Foggy morning, about 9:15. I'm sitting here on the sofa, half-listening to "Merv Griffin" and drinking my beloved black coffee. Haven't taken my shower yet but I'm in dire need of one, SOON. My plans for this day are few. Yesterday I was busy, busy, busy ... I got all the laundry put away, and then I borrowed Lori's vacuum and did the whole house ... so today things are relatively neat.

We finally got our income tax refund yesterday ($747). Ray is cashing it today, and tonight I should have my $250 in my hands! For some reason, this has me feeling a little nervous. This may be the only substantial chunk of spending money I'll get this year, and I don't want to spend it unwisely. My head is buzzing with lists of things I want to get ... plants, picture frames, a pair of jeans ... which stores should I go to? Fred Meyer? Value Village? Ross? ... What if I buy a jacket at one store and then find a better one, for less money, at the next store I go to? It's all jumbled together in my brain and it's DRIVING ME CRAZY. I just don't want to blow it!

One thing is for sure: I am going to spend it, and I'm going to spend it as quickly as possible. I have learned the hard way that if I don't go ahead and buy the things I want, right away, the money is frittered away and I have nothing left to show for it. Ray "borrows" $30 here, $20 there ... I blow some on Avon and on other stuff I don't really want or need ... the next thing I know, I'm sitting here with two dollars left and nothing to show I ever had the money in the first place. So my motto this year is: SPEND IT! QUICKLY!!


Now I've showered ... what a relief. The munchkins have emerged from Jamie's room, too ... Kacie is looking at an Avon catalog, Jamie is dancing around the living room with her Little Pony. The fog is lifting -- outside and in my head. In a few minutes I'll have to get off my duff and wash the dishes, pick the dirty p.j.'s up off the floor, begin the endless cycle of cleaning ...

I finally "introduced" Kacie to the new kittens last night. She was SCARED of them!! She didn't like them one bit!!  I was so surprised. I expected her to be really excited about them, but she ran off, screaming. Kacie never fails to surprise me. In that, at least, she is consistent.

Now both kids are running around the house wearing mittens ...


Wow. The fog outside really has lifted - it is a gorgeous day.

Diary Entry:

Took the girls for a little walk this morning, up the street and back.

Kacie has discovered the kittens, but she doesn't like them very much.  The first time I showed her one, she actually burst into tears!  She continues to be slightly wary around them.

Got long letters from my step-mom and my pen pal Georgia.

Ray gave me $240 tonight; I decided not to quibble about the other $10.  If all goes according to plan I'll go shopping (hopefully alone!) this weekend.

TV dinners for supper  --  "Dynasty" on TV.

March 7, 1985
Thursday morning

I think I'll let this be my final entry in this journal. Last weekend I bought a new journal: a notebook the same size and style as this one, with an orange cover. This morning spring feels like it's just around the corner, and it seems like a good time to start something new ... even if it is "only" a new journal. But that means it's time to wrap things up.

I've realized something about myself in the last year or so: I am terrible at endings. I don't end things well, be they projects, relationships, jobs, short stories, letters ... or journals. I panic and rush through it blindly, leaving everything a confused jumble ... or, worse yet, I just walk away and leave things dangling. I'm not good at tying up loose ends and leaving things neat. But ... I'm going to try. This morning I'm going to attempt to end something in a neat, orderly way.

Reading everything I've written in this journal, cover to cover, one might get the impression that I'm never satisfied with my life. Well -- I'm not. Not 100%, anyway. But then again, who is? There are plenty of things I would gladly change if I could, especially where A.) My marriage and B.) My flagging self-esteem are concerned.

For the record, however, I would like to say this: for the most part I am very content. If you had asked me eight or nine years ago, during my smug, I-know-everything-about-everything college years, what the chances were of me becoming a housewife and stay-at-home mom, I would have bitten your head off. I fancied myself as something of a feminist in those days. I was forever shooting my mouth off about how "demeaning" it is for a woman to stay at home, cleaning house and tending babies. Most of that was just noise, though. I think that deep down inside I have always secretly longed for a home and family of my own. Now I have that, and I find that this lifestyle fits me as comfortably as a favorite pair of shoes.

I adore my kids. They are the very light of my existence. Jamie and Kacie are bright, busy, adorable little girls, and I thank God that I'm able to spend these early years at home with them, watching them grow and change. They often try my patience -- being a stay-at-home mom is sometimes a lonely existence, and I often feel cut off from the outside world -- but motherhood is a special gift from God, a gift not to be taken lightly. And we always get through the hard times. For every bad moment, there are twenty wonderful moments.

My marriage has its ups and downs. But what marriage doesn't? At least I picked a man who is gentle and loyal.

My special pride and joy is my house. I'm almost embarrassed to admit how much I love it! It's old and worn and messy, and things are always breaking -- at the moment I'm living without a phone, a washing machine and a vacuum cleaner -- we're furnished with other peoples' cast-offs, and the only new piece of furniture we've ever had was the crib. But in spite of all that, this is home. This is the one tiny corner of the universe where I am in charge. Here I am free, comfortable and happy.

Yes ... I'm a happy person. And an optimistic person, I think. I expect the best in people. Even when they fail to deliver (Ray stays out all night, Jamie and Kacie battle with each other all morning, someone breaks a promise to me), I still expect the best of them eventually. I like to think I can see the good in everybody. And I expect good things out of life. We may be broke and struggling now, but I always think optimistically of the future.

I'm the heartbeat of our family. It is up to me to keep things running smoothly around here. More importantly, it's up to me to keep everyone's spirits up, to maintain a mood of warmth, love and optimism. When I'm down, everyone is down. This is a heavy responsibility -- a burden, sometimes -- no one is "up" all the time. Some days I feel like staying in bed with the covers pulled up over my head all day. But without me, there wouldn't be a center to our little family. At least, I like to believe this is true. I may be overestimating my own value. But I don't think I am. For the first time in my whole life, I believe that I am an integral part of something, and this is what gives my life meaning.

I can't say how long I'll be content with this lifestyle. The girls will grow up, and they won't need my constant attention. I may need something more then ... a job, maybe. I will surely need to branch out then and pursue other things. But for right now - here in 1985, when the girls are little and our family still feels new - this is where I belong. There is honestly no other place in the world I would rather be.

A Typical Bedtime Prayer, Circa 1985

Mom: "OK, let's say our prayers."

Jamie: "You can say piece and I can say other piece."

Mom: "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my SOUL to KEEP! If I should die before I wake I pray the Lord my SOUL to TAKE!   God bless  ..."

Jamie: "DADDY."

Mom: "And God bless ..."


Mom: "And God bless ... "

Jamie: "SIS-SEE."

Mom: "And GOD BLESS ... "

Jamie: "JAMIE!" (or Dr. Jones, Mrs. Jones, More-Een ... whatever she's calling herself that night)

Mom & Jamie: " ... BEST OF ALL!"

Jamie: "And bless Cornflake and Billy, and let Jamie have GOOD dreams, and no bad clowns. NO, NO, NO!"

Mom & Jamie: "AH-MEN!"

CUTE JAMIE WORDS: "may-pup" (makeup), panmakes, hossibill (hospital), dokker (doctor), spaghetti-hose (Spaghetti-O's)



  • "High On Emotion" - Chris DeBurgh
  • "It's My Turn" - Berlin
  • "Turn To You" - The Go Go's
  • "Jokerman" - Bob Dylan
  • "New Girl Now" - Honeymoon Suite
  • "I Want To Know What Love Is" - Foreigner (this was my favorite-favorite song)
  • "Naughty Naughty" - John Parr

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