Belinda - The First Twenty Years

By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
Copyright © 1997-2017
All Rights Reserved

I met Belinda in 1990, in Houston, Texas. She was beautiful and I was a total mess that day. In fact, I was sufficiently unpresentable that when she asked what I do, I didn’t tell her, fearing she would not believe me. Until that moment it had been a rather sad day for me and all my friends. We were saying a final goodbye to one of our number whom we would never see alive again. It was one of those “parties” where everyone jokes about everything and drinks a lot, trying to have a good time and be upbeat, but never making it to upbeat. We were all a mess by the time in late afternoon when Belinda came in with a number of her friends.

Ours was a short conversation at the end of which I really didn’t expect to see her again. Someone must have explained to her what we were all doing there that day, and someone must have said a kind word on my behalf, because she returned to talk to me after a while. I have been in love with her ever since that day, although, to be honest, I may not have known it that day.

I guess the best evidence of her impact upon me was that in the ensuing few months I severed all other intimate relationships. I have never regretted that for one moment.

As our “courtship” continued, everyone I knew who met her encouraged me to be very careful not to miss the chance to make something of this. You don’t have to spend a lot of time around Belinda to appreciate why all my friends and clients were encouraging me to make a real investment in this relationship. She is simply awesome in her effect upon everyone she encounters. It’s way beyond just her physical loveliness. Her way with people and with everything she does is magical.

Belinda is always aware of who and where she is, literally and figuratively. Her sense of context is natural and automatic. You can’t go to school and acquire abilities like that. There’s no degree program in being Belinda. There’s only one Belinda.

Once she perceives that what she is doing has good prospects for the future, she invests heavily in it. She very quickly began to take care of me and to protect me. I became one of her cats, so to speak. There is no higher status on God’s earth than to be one of Belinda’s cats. She would do things for me that were such “commitment” things, and she rang every bell in my bell tower. Her emotional music is so beautiful. It is a tune you want to hear all your life. You can never tire of Belinda’s emotional music.

I met Belinda during a time in my life when business was really rocking and rolling. It was 1990, and from then until Christmas 1993 I was working so hard that I was almost in a state of collapse. Cases in which I was lead counsel were pending all around the country, and I lived on planes and in hotels, good restaurants and very nice saloons.

As we became more “involved” with one another, Belinda would accompany me on some of the nicer trips. We had a wonderful time in Seattle and driving around the wine country of Oregon with a case of Yamhill Reserve Pinot Noir in the car and a couple of glasses.

There was at the same time a heating up/going to trial case in Baltimore, Maryland, but that was not exactly what you might think of as a romantic venue. Often I was on a cross country commute dealing with those. Even flying first class can get old. Cases elsewhere turned the whole period into one in which Delta Airlines sent a representative to my office to “anoint” me as a million mile flyer.

Belinda and I are 12 years apart in age, but she looks much, much younger. If I tell a stranger that she is my daughter, it is instantly believed. On one of our trips, a cruise from, Seattle to Vancouver Island, some old lady in a casual conversation asked her if she was my secretary.

For the first time in my life, coming home from a trip was the highlight of my life, because Belinda was there. It was a very luxurious time to fall in love. We were and are both very healthy, and the beauty of it all went unmarred. We moved from where I had been living to a home in the west of Houston that was absolutely perfect for us. We are still there, and it is the happiest place I have ever lived in my whole life.

In that period the first Muldoons Saloon opened nearby. Friday evening became our evening at Muldoons, and it was a riotous place on Friday evenings. We made a lot of saloon friends, not exactly the kind you want to invite to dinner, but a lot of fun on Friday evenings at Muldoons. The story of it tells it all. Evening At Muldoons. Muldoons lasted for a long time, but eventually I got a bit too old to keep partying like a kid. Belinda was also ready to start cooling it, or maybe had been there ahead of me and was just waiting for me to catch up.

It has been a difficult adjustment for me to accept that someone is trying to take care of me. I have never had that ever in my life. I’m more accustomed to me being the person who has to do the care taking. I’m still learning to accept what Belinda tries to give me every day and every year without feeling self conscious and undeserving. We have an excellent arrangement for managing the ordinary cycles of what has to be taken care of every day and month. It is regarding the chores that I feel I am not pulling my weight. We used to have maid service, and it was never a good job. There was aggravation every time they came by, with managers having to come out to be shown what wasn’t properly done. We finally agreed to share household chores, but I’m no better at measuring up to “Belinda Clean” than the service was. So now I do all the cooking and grocery shopping, and Belinda does everything else. She has by far the biggest load to tote every month around here. She applies the same standards of performance she uses in her work to what is to be done around the house. She’s tougher on herself than she is on anyone else. Because she’s like that, everyone seeks her out when something needs to be handled correctly the first time. There’s only one Belinda.

If I was in the midst of celebration at Muldoons when she was ready to leave, she would just tell me she was going home and that I should stay and have a good time. She would then tell the bartender to call her when I was leaving. She would then get into the car and come fetch me. Now that is better than I deserve. There are many more examples of her treating me better than I deserve. Scores of them.

I believe that the only thing you can pray for with any expectation of success is that you will have Grace. Striving for grace will make me the man I want to be. It will make me more competent to appreciate and cherish what I have in Belinda. She and that prayer have made me a very different person than I was when we first met. She says that it is a measurable and tangible difference that can be demonstrated by how much some of the cats love me. They don’t love toughness. They love gentle loving kindness in the people they accept. That cats accept me into their love is her yardstick of how well I am adjusting to being in a totally loving environment.

I once wrote that beauty has a direct effect upon attitudes. I wrote that about environmental nature; the difference between attitudes of people in devastated places versus those of people who live in naturally beautiful places. That principle applies in the instance of being in the midst of loving beauty, just as it does in natural environmental beauty. It has worked with me. I have never known how the effect of true love shared works until I began life with Belinda.

There have been enabling factors that facilitated our becoming a love inspired family unit. At our basic, foundation belief and value levels we are identical. Our morality and our sense of right and wrong are the same. We have the same sense of duty and obligation. We respect the same things. Without bruiting it about or trying to impose it upon others, we are Christian people. We are not church goers or prone to group worship. The manner of our conduct of our life is our worship ritual. We try to be who we believe embodies those aspects of essential human decency that Christ tried to teach. We know what Christ intended us to be and to become. That is where we strive to go. We may not get all the way there, but we will do well and come close.

It is because of that insight that we reject being instructed by others or by any institution on the subject of how we ought to live and what we ought to do. We follow our very competent instinctive sense of right, and we believe that by doing that we will do better qualitatively than any institution or group of people could possibly inspire.

Because we live a committed life that is filled with kindness and tolerance, we are, according to what Christ has taught us, entitled to salvation. No person or institution can deny us. Any who contend that they can deny us are pretenders to power that they don’t possess, false and untrustworthy charlatans.

Last year I took it upon myself to state this principal in a published article. The link to it follows: Chef Muldoon's How to Tell Who is Going to Hell

So called religious leaders seldom rise to more than pseudo competence regarding the manner of achieving grace. They are mostly involved with aggrandizing their own institutional agendas, building large and well endowed congregational establishments. We have no interest in that approach to belief management.

We really enjoy making fun of the religiously zealous, the heavy breathing loud absolutists who are always quick to condemn any who do not conform to their ridiculous regimen. Those who denounce evolution; who make war on science in the name of Christianity and God; who oppose women’s rights to self determination; and who are themselves so often practitioners of what they most aggressively condemn, are grist for our sarcastic humor mill.

Belinda and I have gone through a few bumps in the road. At my urging, I took a year off in 1994 and took over a country restaurant, thinking to endow the rustics with exposure to really good food. With great trepidation, Belinda not only consented, but invested some of her own money in it.

Well, as it happened, the rustics weren’t interested in my version of good food. When I did that, my law firm fell apart, as I have always been the person who brought in the business. When the restaurant venture didn’t work, I pretty much had to restart my legal career. That takes time, and much of the material advantages we had been used to were no longer affordable for quite a while. There were intermittent periods of significant comfort when large projects would come in, but between those have been some lean years. Belinda not only stuck it out, but carried a great deal of the freight when it was necessary, and has never mentioned the imposition or complained of having to do so much more than her “share”.

There is a substantial difference in our levels of intelligence. I have much more formal education than she does, but she is much smarter than I. Thankfully my attitude is one of gratitude about it. Her insights and social skills are the best I have ever seen. She instinctively knows what to do and how to do it so that the most positive feedback is realized. I told her mom that she can tell you to go to hell so nicely that you look forward to the trip.

Belinda knows how to do everything, and if she hasn’t done it before, she will quickly learn how to do it. That includes carpentry, painting, electrical and plumbing. I have pictures of her curled up in a shower with a light strapped to her forehead regrouting the tiles. I have other similar pictures, none of which will she allow me to include in this or any other story. When I am out of town I have my Belinda pictures with me.

Knowing full well that others are not likely to do anything after her fashion, she nonetheless provides detailed “operating manuals” for every function that she considers farming out, even for a very short time.

We rarely travel together because we have so many animals to care for every day. I now know what our farm friends out in the country go through. They leave every party early to drive back to the farm and tend to their animals. It is that way with us and the kitties. From time to time she is called out of town on business, and on those occasions I am embargoed from leaving town. There are six litter boxes to be cleaned three times a day; two kitty meals at which every one is served special meals according to their needs and tastes, canned food and hard cat food pellets; outdoor feeding stations to be monitored several times a day to assure that the neighborhood strays don’t have to fight over food scarcity; and the TLC that must be provided for every kitty so that no one is left unloved on any day.

When I say that to be one of Belinda’s cats is a station in life to which almost anyone would aspire, I wasn’t making a joke. The cats write their own stories about life here as they see it. If you think this is just all a made up story, I commend you to one or two of their observations about it Kitty-City.htm.  One of the newer cats, Puddin, sees the entire set up here from a somewhat religious perspective. Puddins-Gospel.htm.

The cats started publishing their own blog about life here many years ago, including their views about Belinda and me. They are certain that Belinda is a saint, something I have known for years, and they went to the trouble to arrange for her to be canonized, in celebration of which there is a small statue at the large oak tree in the back garden that is dedicated to Saint Belinda. The-Feast-Of-Saint-Belinda.htm.  There are other stories written by the cats, and they may be found at in the section of the Directory of Muldoonian Approximations that contains the writings of the cats.

Suffice it to say that I keep the cat tending manual on my desktop so that I have some reference in the event I’m not sure how to do something in her absence that I believe I might have to answer for. Am I Belinda whipped? You’re damn right I’m Belinda whipped! Do I absolutely love being Belinda whipped? You bet I do!

Each of us likes to keep track of the other. It’s a caring thing and nothing else. We have the habit of calling if we are going to be late. When out of town, we call each other first thing in the morning and last thing before going to bed. We will sometimes just reach over and touch each other just to be doing that. We do things that are both loving and reassuring. We reinforce each other. It’s too bad that what we have together can’t be bottled and made available to everyone. We see many loving couples, but we see many more who make us wonder why they are even together. Connections can be few or many, I guess. We are connected in so many ways.

For the better part of this past year we have dealt with family emergencies, including mostly things like by pass surgeries, heart attacks and strokes. Belinda’s mom is extremely dear to both of us, and we thought that we might be at risk of losing her a few times in the past several months. There were close calls and emergency room visits for several months. Her mom’s husband had the same series of experiences during this same time, but he is 93 years old and has not come through it as well. He is now in an assisted living nursing home.

It has been very frustrating knowing that there are life threatening events and that all you can do is stand by and hold someone’s hand and pray with and for them. You want to do so much more, but you can’t. Our prayers have been answered, and Mom has come through it all intact. We hope that our constant attention has been supportive of her so that she at least knows that she is loved and needed and would never ever be left alone. She is now more confident and less frail, and being around me has at least exposed her to my more aggressive tendencies that will always be at her disposal. She laughs out loud when I remind her that I am her personal son of a bitch whenever she needs one.

She is a very smart woman, and that intelligence causes her to assign as much as possible to Belinda who she knows will handle everything with utmost charm and effectiveness.

I am astutely aware that Belinda is not aging in any manner that might suggest dilapidation. She remains an extremely lovely woman and person. On a dimensional level, however, she becomes every year more lovely in the sense that she is more intensely insightful. Her exquisite intelligence is applied every day to what occurs around her, locally and in every other way. She feels free around me to verbalize her take on many things/ issues, and how she goes about sorting out her reactions to what she observes is truly remarkable. I see and hear no professional commentators who appreciate the nuances of anything at her level of acuity. Perhaps they are disadvantaged by having to explain things to the world at large, die lumpen, if you will, and are for that reason constrained to abject superficialities. All forms of journalism are now so marginalized in quality that the true sin is that garbage can’t be wrapped in television coverage the way it can with print journalism.

I so look forward to a time when we again have expansive opportunities to simply play hooky and take in the theatre of life as it swirls its tragic way through these early years of the 21st century. Our jaded cynicism will not besmirch what may remain enjoyable. I am certain that we will remain innocent enough in the properly deserving moments to be moved and inspired by the beautiful things and events that yet remain.

Our tastes have changed so much over the years. What we would now seek would be simpler and inherently beautiful for itself more than for its manner of presentation. I am certain that we have taken our last trip abroad. Today if we felt like appreciating anything Italian, we would probably visit New York City or Northern California, America’s Tuscany. Those we can do without reference to anyone else’s agendas and regimentation. Security matters would be minimal compared against international travel. The beauty would be just as great, for the beauty we now enjoy is in the essence of what we experience, no longer in its appearance. Moreover, the food is better in America than it is elsewhere, and better wine is more abundant and more reasonably priced here. Belinda’s insistence that the best and greatest in value is always what we are able to enjoy here at home in our own wonderful kitchen is certainly true. But what we sometimes see on television shows about food, wine and travel is often inviting. Our love of Italian attitudes would make any trip to New York City a wonderful and joyous experience. Our love of Italian influences in gastronomy would do the same for us in visits to the Pacific Northwest. Mario Batali’s family makes incredible Salumi in a small shop in downtown Seattle. You can’t beat that anywhere. The northwest wine country in America is to us the premium destination for things oenological and gastronomic. When the time comes, I am certain we will prefer to do that rather than travel internationally.

I am certain we will never go live anywhere other than where we are right now. This is simply too heavenly and has meant so much to us for so long.

As we approach the second twenty years together, optimism abounds. We can only pray that our good health continues. While we certainly wish the world well, I doubt we will allow its ugliness to intrude. If others have violent and cruel intentions toward each other, that’s simply going to be their problem. We would never permit its intrusion into our life together, and literally stand ready to repel boarders were it ever to come to that.

If Al Gore is right, we will soon be living on front beach property as the seas of the world rise and inundate the land between us and the Gulf of Mexico. I think it might be time to start thinking about a boat and some fishing gear.

Thank you, Lord, for our many blessings. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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