Wednesday, December 27, 2006

christmas update (part 1)

christmas was good. the kids are still away, but it has been a good season

on friday morning (dec 22) dropped some stuff off to the house for the kids - they had asked me to bring it over from my place. they also asked me to burn some music CDs for their trip.

when i dropped the stuff off stbx-Mrs_C gave me a gift bag and said it was for me. she then said "Can I get a hug?" Daughter was standing right there and I didn't know what to say. I wanted to say no. But before I could say anything she grabbed me and hugged me. i just beat a hasty retreat out the door.

christmas and holidays/special days have been an itchy time for me for a long time. i would rarely live up to expectations and would inevitably catch serious shit. stbx-Mrs_C usually drank on those days so i would get not just regular shit. and then often demands for drunken sex.

holidays and special days were bad times for me. i was trying to reframe this season for myself.

i had a fairly high level of anxiety coming into this season. i had terrible gift anxiety about Smitten's gift(s). her ex-husband had been a "Tell me what you want and I'll buy it for you." kind of guy. She literally had to make him lists. And he'd still ask instead of reading the list. She had expressed tremendous sadness at not being special enough to warrant some effort.

i was very anxious about getting the right gift. i was wound up really tight. remember how anxious i was before i had her over for dinner the first time? there was also substantive carry-over from my issues with stbx-Mrs_C. i did finally express my anxiety to Smitten. she said that it would mean more to her to have me relaxed than to be anxious over a gift - that me being worried about or fearful of her reaction would lessen the enjoyment of receiving it. that i should wait until i could give a gift with only joy.

my fear abated somewhat.

in an odd development, Smitten's son D (11) asked to go shopping with me. he normally hates shopping, so she was surprised. we figured that he wanted to buy her gift when out with me. D has been very interested in the things that i have done for Smitten (flowers, meals, outings [art galleries, museums]). he's been asking lots of questions about "what do guys do nice for women to make women happy?". we assumed he wanted to ask me about what to get his mom.

then he bought her gift and but still wanted to go with me.

before i knew that he had bought her gift i had been thinking about how i would give him advice about how to pick "the right gift" for his mom. in thinking through my "sage advice" i ended up counselling myself. i was going to tell him "getting *the one* gift that will describe or reflect the totality of a woman is impossible. women are to complex. you will drive yourself insane. think about the various aspects of the woman and decide which part of her you want to honour with your gift."

and i solved my own problem. i would not get *the one gift to rule them all*. i would get a gift that reflected my appreciation of one aspect of who she is.

did my shopping on Friday and Saturday. it wasn't nearly as insane as i remember christmas. overspent a bit on Smitten... everywhere i went i just kept thinking "Oh! She'd like this!"

i wanted to express the elements of my appreciation for her. i got her a set of bamboo steamers and specialty green teas. i got a costco sized jug of epsom salts for her relaxing baths (muscle aches and such). i got her two copies of a book about interesting sights and trips in the area we live. i put a card with it saying that i hoped she would invite me to take part in her adventure (that's why i got the two copies of the book). i got a book of 501 must visit places in the world - to dream about. to anticipate. i got her some lingerie.

went shopping on saturday with her son. cruised about to this place and that. it was a little silent and a little awkward at first as we looked for places to have conversation. but eased fairly quickly. it was a fun day. i enjoyed having him with me. i missed my children, and he was eager to aborb his time with me, and what i had to offer.

i took him to a weird oriental shop to buy the teas and stuff. we went to a couple of fair trade stores - he thought they were cool with all the third world items. we went to an auto parts place and he bought himself a flexible reaching tool with a claw and detachable magnet and light. he was in 11 year old heaven. took him to my friend's india foods store and fed D bharfi, gulab jamin, and rasgollas - he was a little weirded out but liked them (i held off taking there until after 1pm so he would be good and hungry [heh]) then took him for dim sum. it was a multi-cultural day. he had never been for dim sum before. Smitten is into Asian food but D followed his Dad's footsteps a little more and shied away from "strange" stuff. His Dad is a guy who like his food in discreet units not touching on his plate, and not in mixed dishes.

D loved it all to pieces. The folks who run the restaurant I took him to were thrilled to see a kid having his first dim sum and hammed it up for him. And when he had problems with the chopsticks they did a deal with an elastic band and a napkin to make it work for him.

we finished the last of the shopping and i took him back to Smitten's. i hung out there for awhile and we all ate supper togther - her, two kids, me.

to be continued...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

on blog pinging

Sicilian asked:

"For those of us who don't know what pinging is. . . explain. . . sounds fun. . ."

"A web feed is a data format used for serving users frequently updated content. Content distributors syndicate a web feed, thereby allowing users to subscribe to it. Making a collection of web feeds accessible in one spot is known as aggregation.

In the typical scenario of using web feeds, a content provider publishes a feed link on their site which end users can register with an aggregator program (also called a feed reader or a news reader) running on their own machines; doing this is usually as simple as dragging the link from the web browser to the aggregator. When instructed, the aggregator asks all the servers in its feed list if they have new content; if so, the aggregator either makes a note of the new content or downloads it. Aggregators can be scheduled to check for new content periodically.

The kinds of content delivered by a web feed are typically HTML (webpage content) or links to webpages and other kinds of digital media. Often when websites provide web feeds to notify users of content updates, they only include summaries in the web feed rather than the full content itself.

Web feeds are operated by many news web sites, weblogs, schools, and podcasters."

from the wikipedia article *web feed*

"RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated digital content, such as blogs, news feeds or podcasts."

Ping (blogging)

"Many blog authoring tools automatically ping one or more servers each time the blogger creates a new post (or updates an old one.) That is, the tool sends an XML-RPC signal to one or more "ping servers," which can then generate a list of blogs that have new material."

most of us in our blogging circle use blogrolling. so if you go to the ping form cited in the previous article, you can put your own, or someone else's blog in and have it manually go read whether there has been an update to the blog.

when blogger changed to *the new blogger* it buggered up their previous RSS/Atom feed which means the blogrolls aren't working right. this is a cross-internet phenomenon.

so until blogrolling or blogger change their code, we have to step in and do manual pings when we update so that people can see when we've updated - you know - the two little asterixes on the name on the blog in the blogroll

hope this is what you are looking for

Friday, December 22, 2006

ping your blog update - new blogger RSS feed broken

if you do an update on your website, be sure to ping your blog so that the blogrolls update. the new blogger has a buggered RSS feed and isn't sending the updates properly so that the rolls update. over the last couple of weeks i have been pinging all of your blogs that i read to update the rolls when you post something new. until it automatically works again, please ping so that people know you've posted - and if you see someone who's posted but they don't show - ping theirs as well.

lost blogs and quickly nuking

someone i know had to ditch their blog in a hurry.

i am prepared for such an eventuality as well.

with my line of work and with other possible overflow - this blog could become a liability pretty quick.

i use a program called backstreet browser that will archive an entire site that you point it at. it is useful for my work and for other uses in my line of activities

i have backed up my blogs

i use a program called cryptainer to encrypt my data and these back-ups. the free version creates encrypted files up to 25Mb in size.

these files, when opened, act like a USB finger drive or other portable memory device (eg: digital camera) - so it just temporarily adds another drive letter to your system - you can have 5 open volumes at once.

there are couple of other options i have considered - there is some option in your blogger profile (or at least used to be) that can be set to disallow people to see your profile. if they can't see your profile, they can't see your blog list. you can also change the URL and name of your blog. i am assuming this could be used to buy 20 minutes for a back-up of a blog before nuking.

i do not know what the impact would be if you had a private blog that you had sent permissions for - whether the invitees would still be able to find the blog even if the name was changed

i am intending to experiment with the escape hatch on my other blog

i'll let you know

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Party Report

The party went well. Some of the folks who were invited did not attend because of work Christmas parties they had a higher level of obligation for - one couple had a friend in from England and were having a mixer for her - which we were invited to... They all made raincheques and extended hard date invitations (which we have accepted) to come to their places for a reciprocal engagement.

There was enough food to both awe and terrify the guests.

A variety of champagne cocktails were served in addition to wine.

Carols, conversation, and listening to a recording of a funny Christmas reading by Stewart McLean - Polly Anderson's Christmas Party.

It was low key and nice. Not the raging success in turnout I had hoped for, but it was a success from every other standpoint, so I am happy. Smitten was happy as well. It was the first Christmas party she had ever had - the first party she had ever had - where she didn't have to do all the work and all the planning and all the direction of execution (of food preparation, table set-up, shopping, blah, blah).

We were pleased to do it together. She accepted my overcooking. I'm working on it... (for the record - in my ethnic culture and my family - if party goers don't walk away in pain from having so much good food people can't resist eating too much - you haven't done your job as host).

I am tickled. We are planning our next January doldrums party - we are retaining Mom's chocolate fountain for the duration they are down in the States for the rest of the cold.

The fountain was quite a hit. I liked the pineapple and the apple-pear covered in chocolate the best. Smitten only had one piece that night - so the next morning we warmed up the leftover chocolate to put into big Ziploc bags for the next time (the fountain takes about 10 cups of chocolate) - and then ate bunch more fruit dipped in the leftover chocolate on the bowl.

It was a decadent breakfast.

Very enjoyable.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

we're having a christmas party tonight!!!

with people who aren't family!!!

i'm so excited

got all the stuff last night and today

came home to change, going back to SMitten's place in a couple of minutes.

my mom lent us her chocolate fountain

Friday, December 15, 2006

express yourself




last night

to my kids about their choices surrounding christmas, their disregard for the fact that my parents stayed here for two extra months in the cold just to be with them for christmas (my Mom has a cold exacerbated illness), that my sister was going to go be warm for christmas too - but chose to come here instead

and daughter's continuing choices about ditching me on weekends, and still asking me to play taxi and be there for her when she wants to go places

and daughter asking me for $40 to buy Christmas presents for stbx-Mrs_C's family at the point that they are getting ready to leave on their ski vacation with their Mom - and why wouldn't she ask her Mom for that cash? and why should i subsidize gifts for people that character assassinate me privately and publicly (including mutual professional settings)?

and son not living up to his written and signed agreements on household chores and schoolwork

that they wouldn't interupt their ski vacation fun to come back even a couple of days early to see my parents and family (i offered to fly them home [steep discount]) - until the trip itinerary got altered (by stbx-Mrs_C) and had them doing something not so exciting on the last few days - then they asked about getting flown home - after the seat sales were gone

and the fact that i was irritated by the bidding war that seemed to be arising for their affection

and that i wouldn't be participating in that bidding war. that they could take me or leave me just the way i am

and when challenged on raising my voice and being upset

i asked them if only their emotions counted - and if mine were invalid - or i wasn't allowed to have them

and that it was pretty easy to ditch dad 'cause he's the one that never gets upset - so it's easy to ignore me because i'll just suck it up - and they can always come back and i'll be there for them

and that they take that and me for granted

i gave daughter the $40. she asked for money - that is my choice - give the money or not

so i did

it would be improper to try to extend a set of rules about how she can spend money that is freely given. to attempt to control her.

i still have feelings about the issue - and expressed them - but in the end, the choice is about whether to give her the money she wants for something that she feels is important to her - no matter what the problems i may have with her aunts/etc are - daughter's relationship is fine - and if she wants to do something, then my only choice is whether to support it or not - not to control it

found out last night that stbx-Mrs_C had been telling the kids that she was buying all their new clothes on her exclusive dime - even though i have been shelling out half the cost

so the kids thought she had dropped about $800 in the last couple of months on clothes when i have been ponying up


BTW - i have put stbx-Mrs_C on notice that she has to rein in spending on clothes for the kids because i just can't cough up every time she decides an outfit is cute - we either get a spending pre-approval system in place or she proposes a budgetted amount because this isn't working for me

i recognise that kids outgrow stuff, but when i challenged on what items were outgrown there were only a few that were able to be produced

most of these clothes came from those weekend shopping expiditions daughter would ditch me for

if stbx-Mrs_C wants to buy off the kids she'll need to do it on her own dime.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I have a bunch of unfinished posts from over the last month that I just haven't had the energy to finish. Or the emotional wherewithal.

Here are some summary descriptions...

Shoving Incident:

Soon-to-be-ex-Mrs_C and son got into a shoving situation the weekend after Smitten's dance performance the kids attended. She apparently started shoving my son while they were disagreeing about something. He says she stopped after a couple of shoves when he put up his fists and arms to ward her off.

She told him to put down his fists and he refused to do so until she said she wouldn't shove him anymore.

I don't have all the details, but it sounds like things got a little edgy...

Apparently daughter was going to call Soon-to-be-ex-Mrs_C's sister and go over there, but when daughter said to Soon-to-be-ex-Mrs_C that she was going to make such a call to get away from Soon-to-be-ex-Mrs_C and her "spaz" Soon-to-be-ex-Mrs_C toned it way down.

There have been no incidents to that level since.

I have discussed the matter on a "back-channel" basis with some folks. I am consulting my lawyer and some people I know who are involved with child protection. I am making my inquiries quite discreet and relying on personal connections to avoid "triggering the system". If this is a lapse or an extremely occasional thing, then it could be bad to have anything official happen. These kind of investigations would haunt her for a long time if there was official involvement.

I have no desire to trigger that.

Soon-to-be-ex-Mrs_C and fear of having people over:

it occurred to me as I read SignGurl's comment on my post Evening Out (Thursday, December 07, 2006) that i have new insight into Soon-to-be-ex-Mrs_C's spaz attacks before having people over.

SignGurl wrote:

"I really don't enjoy people coming to my house. For me it's more the anxiety beforehand about whether or not I have cleaned enough or whether the food will be good."

my response was that i understood her anxiety. i understood that her family was critical.

and then as i re-read SignGurl's comment, and my response, i realised that i didn't truly grasp the enormity of her anxiety about her family and their criticism.

i think about the fear that Soon-to-be-ex-Mrs_C strikes in me when she launches into a rant. and that fear has been imprinted as an adult.

then i think about some of the anger and hurt that i feel related to some childhood events (unrelated to Soon-to-be-ex-Mrs_C of course) and how that anger and hurt is different than adult anger.

and i just thought of the deep imprinting that having her mother (who beat Soon-to-be-ex-Mrs_C [among other things] as a child) criticising her must have left. i know how i go pretty quick to the edge even now when Soon-to-be-ex-Mrs_C pushes me - either on the phone or in person.

it's just some insight. i feel badly for her. but how she was victimised doesn't give her the right to stomp on me or grind me down.


Son put the lean on Soon-to-be-ex-Mrs_C. As you are aware she had put the brakes/veto on both of the counselling arrangements I had come up with for the kids. The kids and I had discussed the situation.

Son demanded she take some action herself if she was going to veto mine and wouldn't stop hounding her. She caved in the face of the demands from the kids. She got a referral to a good counsellor from her lawyer. I am fine with the counsellor.

Son is going, Soon-to-be-ex-Mrs_C is going to this counsellor, and I believe daughter will be as well. Things have been a little tense lately between Soon-to-be-ex-Mrs_C and I, so it has been a delicate set of relations.

I have made contact with the counsellor in order to have at least one session with him so that he can ask any questions of me, and get a feel for who i am when dealing with my child(ren).

Friday, December 08, 2006


Word(s) - can't help myself but put more than one...

Source: balloon pirate, hippi, terry

1. Yourself: (blank)
2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend (spouse): wonderful
3. Your hair: shaved
4. Your mother: loving
5. Your father: upright
6. Your favorite item: don't have one
7. Your dream last night: sex
8. Your favorite drink: water
9. Your dream car: mercedes convertable
10. The room you are in: office
11. Your ex: bag
12. Your fear: my ex
13. What you want to be in 10 years? sailing
14. Who you hung out with last night? girlfriend
15. What You're Not? spontaneous
16. Muffins: bran with LOTS of molasses
17. One of your wish list items: happiness
18. Time: 2:00 p.m.
19. The last thing you did: email
20. What you are wearing: sweater/jeans
21. Your favorite weather: sunny
22. Your favorite book: Mary Stewart Merlin trilogy
23. The last thing you ate: fresh bell peppers
24. Your life: wasted
25. Your mood: sad
26. Your best friend: a long way away
27. What are you thinking about right now? wasted life
28. Your car: mini-van... (ack)
29. What are you doing at the moment? this post
30. Your summer: tumultuous
31. Your relationship status: good, getting better
32. What is on your TV? nothing/sattelite music channels
33. What is the weather like? cold as hell
34. When is the last time you laughed? lunch

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Evening Out

Went out last night. Went to a Christmas Concert/Fundraiser - drinks and entertainment - at a concert hall. Smitten got some free tickets for the two of us. She then got two more late yesterday afternoon and asked if I had any friends that would like to go on short notice.

I called and a couple that are my friends were available (I have known then since I was in my late teens. They were not a couple when we met, but we were all part of the same organisation).

I was so tickled. I was happy that Smitten had found a nice dress-up event to go to. I was really excited to be going out with some friends.

A good time was had by all. Smitten and the lady got along fabulously. We made concrete plans to get together again soon.

I realised that in 16 years of marriage we had not gone out with another couple that was not Mrs_C's family - not even once. There were a few instances where there was a third couple when we went out with her family.

We went to a couple of work related functions and met co-workers (hers and mine) as part of those functions. But for a pure social evening out, this was it.

As I look back I realise that we did while we were dating, but once married, that stopped.

I went to functions/events alone, but not us as a couple. She would either refuse to go, or agree then spaz right before we went out and pull out of going. It would always be awkward for me to arrive at a couples events solo...

Eventually my social life dried up and there was only family and work functions left.

We went to one couple's house a once or twice a year. Christmas party, sometimes New Year's and sometimes a barbeque.

We had people over a few times, but those events were made so bad by Mrs_C spazzing about whatever (which she even did when her family was coming over) and the pain and suffering that I avoided that after awhile.

I was so excited to go out last night I was just bursting. I could barely contain myself. I actually phoned my Mom to tell her - I had to tell someone!

I knew that I was starved socially - but this really brought it home.

Smitten and I are hosting a Christmas party for some selected friends this month. I am sooooo looking forward to it. It was Smitten's idea.

She is so completely swell!

Is this what normal people's lives are like?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Christmas and the kids

Mrs_c was supposed to be here for Christmas. We had discussed it. She had discussed it with my parents. She had discussed it with others in my family.

They made plans to come here for Christmas so that they could see my kids. Flights all booked. My parents put off snowbirding to the States for 6 weeks.

Then about 2 weeks ago Mrs_c announces she's going to another city with the kids for Christmas to see her family and her family that is here would be going with her.

She had previously said she couldn't afford to go. Now she's renting a vehicle for the trip (8 hours by car) and has a wide variety of enticing activities for the kids to do while they are there. The kids want to go on the trip because they want to do all the cool things.

If she had announced all of this earlier or made the plans earlier we could have altered our family plans (my side). But no.

Mrs_c says it's fair because last Christmas we went to the States to see my parents (except we cut the time short in order to make it back to see some of her family that had travelled in to our city... but that doesn't apply here).

It's supposed to be my week with the kids with shared time on the specific holiday days. I was going away in the week after Christmas. Neither the kids or their mother knew of my plans.

Now everything on my side is shot to shit. My family does not get to see my kids at Christmas because their mother is expertly yanking them exactly in the period my sister will be here, and not returning until after my parents leave for 3 months.

I offered to split the week and fly them home, but the kids don't want to travel on boxing day and any other day in there will cost about $600 one way...

Now that the kids have said they want to go it is appearing (from what they tell me) that some of the fun activities have moved from "for sure" and "promise", to "we'll try to do this" and "one of the things we could do".

I have told them that they should ask for a formal commitment on the specific things they want to do. Then they will be able to decide what they want to do.

I just figure on my end, I'm going to roll with it. If I get all worked up it won't do anything. I suspect it is just one of many occasions when this sort of thing will happen over the next number of years until the kids are fully responsible for their own arrangements and decisions.

Monday, December 04, 2006


Went to the AIDS day fundraising drag show with Smitten.

I was the only straight guy there.

One of Smitten's friends/colleagues "B" from the regional women's centre board was the organizer. She works for the local AIDS awareness organization. She made a point of inviting us when I met her recently at a women's centre fundraiser with Smitten.

It was a good show.

At one point there was an auction. They were auctioning a condom vest. The MC got bored of being an auctioneer and declared herself (um, himself... um, whatever) the winning bid at double the going bid and told B to give it to whomever B wanted.

B gave it to me.

There was much hilarity in the room. They'd all somehow figured out I wasn't gay.

So I put it on and wore the vest all night.

I matched the winning bid with my own donation. It seemed the right thing to do. I later figured out that it won me much face with the entire crowd and especially all the Women's Centre activists (and friends of Smtten) that were there (Smitten said she didn't realise how many of the people on the board were gay. She said it never really crossed her mind...).

People (but mostly guys) kept feeling the vest. Lots of times they seemed to miss the vest and hit my ass. Even lots of the Lesbian crowd were grabbing my ass. I was good natured about it and tried to engage in a witty level of reparté. I suspect they were playing "shock the uptight straight guy".

After the show we stayed and danced. Gay clubs always play the best music. Oddly enough, I had been in more gay clubs than Smitten. She'd never been to one before.

When things got too overtly "cruising" sexual surrounding us on the dance floor Smitten wanted to leave.

We went to say god-bye to B. Miss Gay [My City] grabbed my ass while we were talking to B. All the guys clustered around Miss Gay [My City] were telling me I had to come back the next year to model the vest - except without a shirt. They were all hooting and demanding a preview.

I stood there for a moment figuring out what to do.

So I unbuttoned my shirt partway and flashed them a shot of my ever-so-manly chest.

There were many screams of delight, and several comments of "I'm in love!"


I am told that my good-natured response to the whole thing has won many plaudits from various people. The story has even found it's way into my workplace through the social activist crowd. People know people who know people. It's not a big city...

I'm still not attracted to guys, even if a few of the cross-dressers did look pretty good as women. But it was kind of flattering to have that attention and positive commentary.

And Smitten appreciated me being good about it all.

And that's really the important part.

Her husband was a beer drinkin' sports watchin' kind of guy. Who wouldn't go check out the club when Smitten wanted to.

I did go - and had fun with her and the situation. She appreciates me.

I think "I'm in love".

made her cry...

Not like you might think.

Smitten was over on the weekend. Spent the weekend at my place. We spend most weekends when we don't have the kids together. We alternate whose place we stay at as it may fit needs.

Smitten has some minor but chronic and aggravating health issues. I have done a huge amount of research on her health issues and have provided her with my results. It is my belief that her issues are stress induced. It is interesting that the pattern of those health issues have altered dramatically since we started seeing each other.

She has a few "digestive" issues - what she can eat and can't. I have taken great pains with my cooking to fit her needs. Both in cooking and purchases.

The primary health issue is Raynaud's syndrome. "Raynaud's disease is a condition that causes some areas of your body — such as your fingers, toes, tip of your nose and your ears — to feel numb and cool in response to cold temperatures or stress. It's a disorder of the blood vessels that supply blood to your skin. During a Raynaud's attack, these arteries narrow, limiting blood circulation to affected areas." - Mayo Clinic

While her case is mild, she has to take care to warm her hands in water and to hug her kids through their clothes not on their skin (really cold hands).

There are a couple of interesting elements to all of this. There is a correlation to the time we spend together and how much sex we're having to the temperature of her body extremities. Smitten is literally hot for me [heh]! Her hands and nose (the most common "cold spots") stay warm for days after we've spent time together. Her bodily patterns have altered since we started dating.

I told her I was going to heal her - only half in humour...

Smitten also has back and neck issues. They will get thrown out by some fairly regular/normal movements. They got thrown out on Saturday, so we made a fast trip to her chiropractor.

That night I worked on her as well. Slow and gentle massage and acupressure - several hours. It reduced the discomfort. The places she usually hurt didn't hurt anymore.

On Sunday morning she hadn't slept well, and was a little sore. Sore in different places than usual. Having experienced the same thing when my massage therapist was releasing my body from the fibromyalgia spasms, I told her (based on my experience) that she had always hurt those places but they were overwhelmed by the more acute spots. Then I worked on her some more. Muscle by muscle, knotted spasm point by knotted spasm point - slowly releasing. I understand the pain - the constant background of ache. I understand the nature of releasing the pain.

I know massage having been an avid amateur for about 26 years (classes, books, and practice)(I started doing massage in high school. I was good enough that even the girls that otherwise wouldn't talk to me would come ask me for a massage [as a teenaged guy I was pretty happy with that outcome]. My hands are always warm and very strong, but I have an exceedingly gentle and patient touch.

At several points Smitten said I should stop because she felt too self-indulgent, just laying there having me work on her. I said I would stop if she really wanted me to. All she had to do was get up from the bed...

She kept commenting that she was amazed that such tiny movements and touches could have such powerful referral effects through her whole body. Pressing lightly on one spot on her hip and have it make her toes tingle and then turn hot as the muscles released and blood flow returned. Working the back of her knee and having her neck flush hot and be able to move more freely.

About 3 hours into that massage and muscle release session she asked me how I was doing (as you are aware I have been having some fibromyalgia episodes for the last few weeks). I said it didn't matter and that I was going to continue my work on her until she was OK.

She thought about that for a few minutes. She then said that no-one had ever paid that much attention to how she felt. Had never spent that much time worrying about her. Put that much continuous effort into her. To her comfort and her well-being (Smitten has been on her own since she was 16. Even in childhood she was always responsible for herself [not the greatest of homelives...]).

Smitten began to cry. She covered her face with a pillow and and said she didn't want me to see her crying. I left the room and gave her a minute or two. Then returned and held her until she stopped crying.

She talked about no-one (including her parents) looking out for her - being expected to stand on her own two feet from a very early age. About having to always take responsibility and do things on her own. On always being the one to make sure everyone else was taken care of. About how staying at my place allows her reprieve from a lifetime of duty and watchfulness. About having someone actually care about cooking and what she can and can't eat. About not being "on watch". Not having to be "responsible".

I believe that there was both an emotional and a bodily reason for her to cry. The emotional response to the care and the tenderness, but I think more significantly the release from pain.

I understand the tears and the shakes that come when you've been released from the even a little of the racking torture of chronic muscle pain and spasms and headaches.

I hope to be able to repay some of the karmic debt I owe my massage therapist by helping Smitten.

I find fulfilment in helping others. In doing for others.

To be able to do things for her and to have her accept and appreciate - that is very powerful. I was moved.

It's a new thing for me. When I would work on Mrs_C, there were many times she would fall asleep during the massage and then rip into me because I had let her sleep when she had things to do. Or that I hadn't finished cleaning the house. NO - really - I am not blowing smoke up your ass. I would get shit often after giving a multi-hour massage.

You can see where the weekend with Smitten and being able to help her was a qualitatively different event.

It bothers me that there is the level of spillover and comparison between the experience of my marriage and my current relationship.

But I am aware - and I am actively trying to lose the constant internal reference to my marriage. I believe that can only lead to bitterness. Or, I guess I should say, deeper bitterness.