To Alex -

To Alex...who is far away in person, but never far from my heart. I miss you. Enjoy these snippets of everyday family life here in the states.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Take a hike

There's nothing like a strenuous hike (or two) in the woods to clear your head. Saturday, I called a girlfriend and the two of us headed for the woods with her dog for a very hard 5 mile hike in the hills. It was exactly what I needed to shake off both tears and grief. There was snow on the ground and the trails weren't too icy, but boy did we work it. Perhaps I should say the dog worked us. Goodness!

Later, we spent the evening on the couch at her house playing with Copic Markers, which are new to me and very cool to play with, but I don't think I'll be investing in them any time soon. Whew, they're pretty pricey. These were borrowed from someone else and I think K said we were playing with about $800 worth. Really!?! way am I spending that kind of money on markers. Don't get me wrong, these markers rock, but $800??? And even then I couldn't find just the right color green I wanted.

If you can put aside the issue of price, these markers are very easy to use and quite easy to learn. At least, I think they're easy because I learned the blending technique in just that evening and I know it could be even better with a little more time and practice. I also love the contrast I achieved in the top picture, but again, I can not justify the price. I'll have to find a different medium for these effects. I should be able to get the blending effect from watercolors, but I'm not sure what else will give me the contrast pic yet. Sure was fun to play though.

Sunday sent me back outside to the lakeshore for a hike up and down through the woods, up and over the dunes, along the lake and back through the woods. Another strenuous 5 miles that left me drenched in sweat hiking through the woods, freezing by the lake and drenched again by the time I got back to the car.

My heart feels better, but I think I should go for another hike to be sure.

Friday, January 27, 2012

You'll know.

This blog is, after all, written primarily to my son in Taiwan so the rest of you will have to forgive me for this post. Julie, I know you'll feel this too.

Everyone says, "you'll know." They can't tell you how you'll know, only that you'll know. Well, you will know and I'm here to tell you how you'll know. It's probably not polite to tell the truth here, but the way you'll know is that your heart will be ab-so-lutely breaking! For my situation, it was probably past time, as this picture will attest, but I kept hoping for a rally. It never came...
Kyle and I said good-bye to our family's beloved companion of 18 years yesterday. Oh, it was hard and many tears were shed, but his vet helped him slip peacefully away...he was so ready.

I spent last night cleaning the house and writing down all my memories as I moved from room to room. I didn't get rid of anything, in fact, his food dish is still on the floor in the kitchen, but I cleaned. Going from room to room helped me with some of the memories I didn't want to forget. It helped me to grieve. It helped me to cry. I hope it's okay that I put down this list even though I know you have so many of your own memories.

Dear Tim - these are some of the many things I'm going to miss about you.

- Greeting me at the back door when I came home, you were so excited to get your tuna treats.
-Sleeping on the afghan at the foot of my bed, your body curled round with your front paw over your eyes.
- Lying in the sun by the front window.
- How I always washed my hands in the kitchen sink because the bathroom sink was full of your drinking water, your favorite place to drink. Oh, how you loved a nice gentle drip...drip....drip...
- Jumping onto the craft table and insisting on being in the middle of my work when I was sewing or crafting.
- How you detested little kids and would thump them on the head when they least expected it - like you did to Kylee and Maris.
- How you loved all the kids when they got older because they were so good about scratching your ears.
- The warmth and weight of you whether sitting on my lap or draped over my shoulder.
- Reaching out and gently touching my face with your paw to wake me in the morning.
- How we would shock each other in the winter when we got close to snuggle, me laughing and you giving me that, "really!?!" look, as if it were my fault.
- How you would sneak into the hall closet to sleep on all the stored afghans - it was so warm from the heat duct in the back. How you were accidentally locked in there a couple times because I didn't know.
- How you perched on the kitchen table to watch me cook, often demanding in very loud meows that I give you a scratch.
- If I'm sitting on the couch reading or watch t.v., you creep slowly onto my lap until you are settled squarely in the middle of it.
- How you messed up our marble games by walking across the board.
- Feeling you curled up next to me whenever I wake in the night.
- You loved to be vacuumed, how odd!
- Your favorite place in the summer was in the upstairs room. I thought it was stifling hot, but you thought it was the bomb!
- Chewing on my knitting needles as I try to knit...looking all innocent when I try to make you stop.
- Hearing that oh, so familiar thud as you jump off the bed, turning my head to see you come sauntering out of the bedroom, you walk over and jump on the couch with every intention of settling on my lap. Your lap, you say?
- Your very loud meows, but soft and gentle purr.
- That soft patch just behind your ears, like Chinchilla fur - my favorite spot on you.
- Your striking eyes, and whiskers that curve outward and always remind me of a walrus.
- The click of your nails as you walked across the kitchen floor.
- How you would loudly tell me it's quite time for bed at night and then gently wake me at 3:30 a.m., or not so gently.
- I could never shut the door to the back landing because it prevented you from getting downstairs to the litter, but there was always a draft with that door open.
- The cloth bag I made from a thrifted pillowcase to hold bags for cleaning your litter.
- The magnet on the post to hold your scoop.
- That stretch with your butt up in the air and your paws outstretched so even your toes were splayed...I always envied that full-body stretch.
- Perched in the windowsill on the front porch in the summer, how you could curve your body to go from window to window without falling.
- Loving the sunshine as you lay sprawled in my chair.
- How you climbed into everything in the cellar because there might be something new or fun to play with.
- How, if someone stood with the door open, you would nonchalantly walk outside as if it were the most natural thing in the world. It wasn't, you were strictly an indoor kitty.
- How you would go nuts for the wire brush and by the third time I cleaned it out, you would take it away so you could brush your own face and chin.

Reading Walden Wednesday evening with you on my lap and being aware that with every breath, every second, your life was slipping away and I had less than 24 hours left with you. Being painfully and tearfully aware that your time with us was swiftly coming to an end.

I didn't realize how much I talked to you...about what I was doing, what I was thinking, things that were happening in the house...until I turned to talk to you last night...and you weren't there.

I'm missing you's gonna be a long time healing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

36 Hours

We went from playing baseball in the park in their shirt sleeves...
To this...gobs of snow hanging heavily on the branches, in 36 short hours. Yay!
Oh, winter. You know how much I love you. Is there a reason you made me wait so long? Not that I'm complaining, because you showered me with sunshine whilst I waited, and you know I love the sunshine, but I'm wondering if you're going to have the snow stick around longer since you made me wait so long. Please? I promise to play in it every chance I get.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Whip it up!

I'm working on a post about my word for this year, but I'm struggling with what to say and how I want to say it. Part of my plan for classes this year includes art. Art sort of scares me and I'm not really good at it, although that could be from lack of experience, however my intent isn't to be good, but to learn how to work with different media. I've already taken a pottery class, loved it, and I recently enrolled in a watercolor class to learn how to use the paint. I'm already pretty good at slopping paint around on the page, but I just know there's a way to make the paint do something intentional and that's what I'm trying to learn. But you know what's really cool thing about taking a class and needing supplies for that class? Ha! You get to sew something to hold your supplies, and though I'm not good at art, I'm damn good at sewing. Wouldn't you know that I would need a case to hold my brushes....
Too easy! The fabric was an upholstery sample I picked up at a thrift store for .50 and the seam binding was in a big box of sewing supplies given to me after a friend's mother passed away. Sewwww (pun intended), I'm pretty sure I can't beat the cost for one sweet Roll-up Brush Holder. It really was easy. I sewed seam binding on one of the shorter edges, folded the edge up 4 inches and sewed dividers anywhere between 2" and 3/4" apart to hold brushes and such. Then it was only a matter of adding a tie and finishing the other 3 raw edges with more seam binding. Voila!

I'm positive this case will make me a better painter.