Creating an Urban Homestead

Posts tagged “widow

Life is But a Dream—or Maybe Just a Big Bowl of Soup

Nothing like the holidays to bring back memories of holidays past. Former lives within this life haunt me—so many moments and people that are now gone forever. They are real in my mind but elusive as a dream.

Life is so much more fluid than I ever knew. My mind keeps bumping into the people of the past as I cherish time spent with people of the present.

“Their souls are in the halls of my mind,” says Flash of his dearly departed. I know what he means. (more…)

Slow Food and Fast Food, Love and Pain

Avery eats his first turkey leg. Photo by Flash

Avery eats his first turkey leg. Photo by Flash

Flash, CC, Marley, Avery and I celebrated Thanksgiving early this year—a potluck with friends. Somehow, I ended up cooking my very first turkey for the shindig. After two short years of cooking regular meals and 10 years of vegetarianism only recently ended, it seemed a daunting task. (Mike was such a fantastic cook, I was truly handicapped in the kitchen by the time he died in 2007. I rarely cooked a meal in the 17 years we were together.)

Since returning to my omnivorous roots back in February, I’ve been purchasing local, free range, antibiotic-free meat from a farmer that I met while on a photo assignment years ago. Vegetarian at the time, I made a mental note that if I ever were to purchase meat again, it would be from Charles Ritch of Goose Pond Farm.

And I’ve made good on that promise. (more…)

Spontaneous Combustion

I’ve been thinking a lot about spontaneous combustion the last couple hours.

Like at 6:45 pm while standing in line at hideous Wal-Mart where I had to make a last minute run for pullups instead of starting dinner. (Hmmm, pissy bed in the morning or hot dinner the night before? Such are the daily guilt-inducing decisions every parent without a partner makes.)

With pink pull ups in hand (for some reason my oh-so-boy boy LOVES the color pink), Avery asks through tears why I wouldn’t ask anyone that worked there whether they sold Harry Potter glasses, even after we cruised through the toy department and saw nothing Potteresque.

Suddenly, in my mind’s eye, poof! There goes mom, a smoldering pile of ashes on the floor. Somehow that image was extremely satisfying. (more…)

Spirit phones and homegrown tomatoes

Sometimes malaise sneaks up on me, and other times it follows a more predictable path. As cliché as it might sound, today’s bout of blues definitely seems related to the fast-approaching 2nd anniversary of Mike’s death (Sept 13).

I’ve found no good way defend myself against the pain. It comes uninvited.

I am haunted by a past that is gone and a future that no longer exists. It began in the relative quiet of Labor Day after Flash, CC, and her kitten Casey departed from The Okey Dokey Ranch after spending a raucous and rainy but fun Saturday and Sunday here.

This afternoon, Marley went to Tannehill State Park with her friend Bella, which left me alone with Avery. The boy has been quite wild all weekend—a draining surprise after he acted disarmingly docile and charming Friday afternoon after school. By Monday afternoon I was, shall we say, finding it difficult to appreciate Avery being anywhere near me. I really just wanted to be alone with my thoughts. (more…)

The Missing Goodbye

I have a recurring dream, although I am not sure if it really is a dream. It happens in that space just between consciousness and deep sleep and happens most frequently during afternoon naps, but sometimes as I fall asleep at night.

I’ve come to think of this space as my time with Mike, or perhaps something else altogether. It feels as though some energy, some force is working on my heart. As I try to describe this “heart work,” it seems less and less real. A mirage.

All I know is that it has felt healing at times. But this time, the message was different. Loud and clear. “But you didn’t even get to say goodbye.” Again and again. (more…)


Five years ago, a young couple—friends of friends–died in a freak car accident while traveling to their 4th of July vacation spot in Asheville, NC.

Their three-year-old son lived. I remember being blood-curdlingly horrified by the story.

The woman had once been a teacher at The Redmont School, where Marley was attending preschool. That was the extent of our connection–two degrees of separation.

I worried for their son, bargained with fate to undo what had been done, obsessed about the unfairness of it all.

And finally, I spent several hours in bed, paralyzed with fear about what could befall my own children, seriously considering never taking my family out into the world in order to protect them. Then I realized that even at home, an airplane could fall from the sky and hit our house, or a meteorite could pulverize us anywhere on earth. The realization that I am not in control hit me hard that weekend. (more…)



As recently as 2005, I was a gainfully-employed photojournalist making top-scale union wages, living with my husband Michael Prichard, 2 children, one dog, one cat, and several gardens in a 1950’s -era ranch house in Birmingham, Alabama.

We were vegetarian, but ate like royalty; Mike was a genius in the kitchen–ask anyone who ever dined with us.

Then I got laid off and started two businesses with Mike.

In 2007, we were on course to make more money doing media work and renovating houses than we ever did working for the man. Things were looking pretty peachy.

Then Mike electrocuted himself in the grow room (yes THAT kind of grow room), and I was thrust into the world of single parenthood in the blink of an eye. (more…)

The Honeymoon is Over


Single momdom has hit me square between the eyes today.

Kids home from NM.

Flash has flown the coop, after more or less living at The Okey Dokey for a month while the kids were with my mother-in-law and father-in-law. Yet he came by with hugs and kisses as he retrieved his drum (playing with Gene and Zack tonight), his Bluetooth charger, his blue shortie bath towel that he Velcros around his sexy hips when he’s feeling modest. Or chilly.

Guess he’s out of here for a while. Shit. (more…)

Tear-filled goodbyes and a difficult introduction

Back to reality. Whatever that is. Kids are home from their month long trip to New Mexico. They stayed with Mike’s mom Dinny and her husband Frank in Las Cruces. From all accounts, the trip went swimmingly well for everyone.

Dinny brought them back yesterday and flew out of Birmingham today. About an hour before she left, Avery asked if he could go back to NM with her. “Just for a day.” And then he asked why she couldn’t stay here longer. Oh God, I knew what was coming. A big burst of tears after he said goodbye to her at the airport. Absolute sobbing. And I thought to myself, “I don’t remember him crying like this after his dad died.” Of course, he was three then and surely didn’t know the ramifications of what had happened to his dad.

“We’re not going to see grandma for a long time,” he said in the car. (more…)

The Gate from Hell

I would have cried had it not been so ludicrous; picture me in a downpour wearing heels and white pants while a dragging a metal gate behind the 12-foot trailer being towed by my minivan.

First sign of trouble: a disturbing grating noise coming from behind the van as I drove to see a performance of “The Nutcracker” at Samford University. My first thought; please don’t tell me I’m dragging my gate down the street. I’m already late. (more…)

Marley lost her first tooth tonight

Another first–a non-holiday milestone that Mike has missed. One of those things that I know he would have loved to celebrate with her. And maybe he is. It’s just not that apparent to me.

Marley is soooo excited. When this happened, I of course was happy for Marley, but my mind also immediately went to “well, here’s another thing that Mike will never get to enjoy.”


Thanksgiving weekend

On this weekend, I want to again thank everyone for their love and support. We could not do this alone. We ate Thanksgiving dinner at my mom and stepdad’s house along with my aunt. It was nice and quiet.


Happy Anniversary

Ten years ago, we walked the French Quarter

Hunting for rings on our wedding day

Thinking we would spend full lives

Traveling, carefree, growing old gracefully.

Instead we worked, had babies; hitting our stride only recently (more…)

Heart crush

Sometimes the weight of what has happened hits me like a wrecking ball. It is all I can do to not crumple to the floor and disappear. But it is good that it comes in waves because if the real impact of this horror hit me for a full day, for instance, I don’t know if I could continue to breathe. Even now, my breath is shallow and I’m having a hard time believing that my heart is even beating.


Chris' photo website and condemned house update

It only occurred to me yesterday that I forgot a very important link (to me, anyway), which is my photo website, which for now displays mostly editorial photos. I don’t update it very often, but if you want to check it out, go to It should be back online later today (my domain name registration had expired).


Rebuilding the building business easier said than done

Maybe I’m overconfident in my ability to continue the rehab business on my own. I have no doubt that I can get my homebuilders license and learn the on-site details of the work, dealing with subs and all of the other things that Mike did (although I’m sure I’ll not be doing much, if any, of the hands on work that he did other than to pick up/purchase supplies). (more…)

Space Cleansing

It’s been an intense weekend. Many social events, and also a more private happening. A cleansing of the “trauma energy” in the space in my basement where Mike died. (more…)

Jones Valley Urban Farm orchard planting details

Ok, on Saturday, November 17, 2007, Marley, Avery and I will be helping plant a blueberry and fig tree orchard in Mike’s memory from 10 am until noon. All are welcome (kids too) to come and help plant. Bring gloves, but all other tools and refreshments are provided. At the end of the session, all who partipated will make a handprint for a metal casting that will be poured @ Sloss and made into a memorial plaque for the garden. (more…)

Slideshow of Mike's altar @ Bare Hands Gallery's Dia de los Muertos 2007

Check out "Farewells" in today's Birmingham News

There is an extended obituary written in today’s Birmingham News about Mike. It’s on page 12A. Or follow the “Farewells” link to see the online version.

In the article, Erin, the reporter, refers to the Bare Hands Gallery exhibit, so I though it might be good to add a slideshow of part of Mike’s alter for those who haven’t had the chance to go see it. BTW, the exhibit will be up through November 17. The gallery is open Wed-Sat 11-6 pm.

Life as a ghost

It is so strange going through the day as if nothing has changed.

Bring the kids to school; work on the books; close on a house; bullshit with the real estate agent; answer the phone; meet the HVAC guy; talk to the guys doing demolition work on my houses; listen to the radio; read a snippet of a novel. (more…)

Sunday blues

I can already see that Sundays are going to be the worst day of the week; it was most often the day that all of us would be home together, working in the garden, cooking, listening to NPR. Yesterday was just like one of those days, except it was Mike’s mom with us from New Mexico instead of Mike. And that was great–she’s had a great time with the kids and vice versa. Mike and the kids and I have always appreciated and enjoyed her visits. (more…)

Can't stop crying

Why this morning?

Is it because I’m going to close on a house by myself today (we bought nine houses together)?

Because it is All Souls Day and the wall between the worlds is at its thinnest (and why can’t I feel you, Mike?) (more…)

Curses and blessings

I have a really mundane voice mail message from Mike on my cell phone. Every time it pops up into my ear, I am startled and then strangely comforted. I guess I’m pretending that if his voice is so close and so real that everything must really be okay. (more…)