Proof of Life

Having lost both my mother and husband in recent times, I’ll add that I REALLY wish I had more pictures that I am in with them. I am usually behind the camera and have never liked having my picture taken. Now that they are gone, I wish I had done it differently. I have been trying to make sure that I am in more photos with Casey since mom died, but I have about 5 pictures total that I am in with Al. and that hurts my heart. When I look at pictures of my mom, I don’t see what she looked like, I see what she felt like. and that there is proof that she was here and we were with her in this life.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/allison-tate/mom-pictures-with-kids_b_1926073.html
get yourself in front of the camera with your loved ones.

Gently treat my heart

Gently treat my heart

The seams are worn

and prone to fall apart.

This jagged, gaping tear of mine

has been crudely stitched together by the hands of time.

I am reminded of a year ago and before

When we always the possibility of more.

I tell you I love you, I say it out loud.

You tell me you love me in dreams and in clouds.

It’s impossible and it’s rough

to let that be enough

world, gently treat my heart today

for I have not the heart to play.

Locked in my Heart

When I was a kid I used to always want to style my mom’s hair. I went through a (very long) phase where I was going to be a hair stylist. Even when I was in high school, I would braid my mom’s hair for her. I would either do a french braid for keeping it out of her face or I would do a bunch of smaller braids while it was wet to give her some extra curl.

In later years we talked about when you go to the salon, you don’t want just a haircut, you want the whole treatment. You want the shampooing and all of it. It makes it more of a pampering. She would joke and say how when I was little and wanted to brush and style her hair, she would feign reluctance. “Okay, I guess I’ll let you.”

So a lot of my memories of my childhood have my mom’s hair braided into them.

We had a request when mom died for a lock or two of her hair. I’m glad we did because I would probably not have thought of it. Today I finally had a few hours to myself and since school is out I didn’t have to fill them with homework. I decided that I would use that time to get mom’s hair ready.

I wrapped one end of each lock with embroidery floss and then braided it and tied the other end off with small bow. While I was doing it I was remembering all those other times and thinking how strange it is that this will be the last time that I do this. It began to feel like a ritual, like a ceremony.  I can see why there are so many rituals and ceremonies that involve preparing a loved one for burial. I probably wouldn’t have wanted to do all of it. But I am grateful for this small thing.

I’m honored to be able to do it one last time.

I’m also tying a Celtic Heart Knot to go with each of the locks of hair.

I learned this knot here. I think it’s beautiful.

This is the project mostly done:

Happy Halloween

I like Halloween. One of my favorite things about it is grown ups dressing up and goofing around. There is a wonderful childlike glee that is not only allowed, but encouraged this time of year.

Speaking of childlike glee:

 

The mask

 

This is the mask “we” fell in love with when we thought we couldn’t be our first choice–football player. We have since been able to borrow a football jersey. So we will be a werewolf football player.(!?!)

In the spirit of great procrastinators everywhere, we will spend today making our costume and carving our pumpkins. Then, when mom has stressed out enough to finish the thing, we will head out into the night to teach our child that begging from strangers is perfectly fine go trick-or-treating. This will be followed by a visit to the Harvest Festival. This is a fun game night where kids play and win, not prizes, but CANDY!

Then we will haul our bag of loot home and crash into bed in a sugar induced coma.

~~~

I was thinking of my favorite Halloween.

I would have been 12 or 13. My friend and I dressed up in cool alien costumes using styrofoam wigstand heads and little flashlights covered with red or blue celofane inside to make them glow. Then we went around the neighborhood handing out candy. It was hysterical. We got invited to lots of parties. The  alien heads were on top of our own making us seem much taller (and presumably older). It was fun to turn the tradition on it’s head. It was also the only time I spent Halloween with that friend which made it extra cool.

Another time, when I was around 23, I wore a unitard and got my nail lady to paint it and me with stars and planets and stuff. That was fun. Especially since I was a bartender and wore it to work. Though it was a little strange to leave work the next morning after my graveyard shift and still be fully made up.

Another old standby for me is just adding another set of arms to a shirt. Sew gloves onto the end of sleeves, stuff the sleeves, and sew the sleeves onto the shirt you’ll be wearing. Then attach the bottom arms to the top arms with string, or even better: rubber bands.  At first glance you don’t appear to be wearing a costume-and yet…

~~~

So far, The Dude has been a power ranger, ninja, baseball player, silver surfer, indian brave, and this year, as I said, football playing werewolf.

What about you? What’s your favorite costume or Halloween memory? Do you have a standby backup costume?

Fireworks

Well, here’s my post on this holiday.

It’s taken me a little bit to figure out how to say what I want to say about it. I don’t want to sound like a whiny snit. I developed something of an aversion to most holidays while working in casinos in Lake Tahoe. You rarely get them off and those kind of places turn into zoos full of wild animals on holidays.

Lake Tahoe does one of the most amazing fireworks shows. If you get a chance to go and don’t mind hordes of people and traffic-do it. You might want to do it even if you do mind those things. They (the casinos) spend an excessive amount of money on it and it’s quite a sight to see. If you do go take a radio because it’s timed to a playlist that is broadcast on the local station.

If seen it from both sides. When I was younger we took our boat out and “parked” on the lake and watched it from there. Later, my friend’s family was involved with the setting up of the show the week before it. A perk they received was a certain amount of passes to the private beach off which the barge that holds the fireworks is anchored. A few times I went with them.

Those fireworks shows are all tied together with my childhood and family and friendship. Not to mention they really are great.

I’ve tried to go to other shows. I’ve tried not to compare the shows in other places to the ones from Tahoe.

It doesn’t work.

And it’s not fair.

To me : for the disappointment I feel and that feeling of Is that all?

and

To them:  for the hard work that they put in and the perfectly fine fireworks show they put on. Not everyone can have the kind of budget the casinos have. They don’t deserve to be judged like that.

So I don’t go.

We buy some fireworks and have a barbeque and generally have a nice time at home.

Yesterday we let our son go with friends to watch the local fireworks. He loved it and we didn’t have to go. win-win

today I am grateful for….. bacon wrapped fillet mignon….independence…..freedom….. the 1st amendment…..and…. marshmallows.

Magicalness

A couple of weeks ago I had a magical thing happen.

To start with, I noticed that the daisies in my back yard had bloomed.

I love daisies. They are always so clean and bright looking. The other reason I love them is because my Grandma  had them in her yard and they remind me of her and my childhood.

So I was having a nice flowers and memory day.

Then my son picked me a flower.

A really big flower.

If he hadn’t picked it we might not have seen it, since we haven’t been in the greenhouse much this year.

My Grandma had a patch of Oriental Poppies in her yard as well.

Here’s where the magic happened:

We didn’t plant poppies.

We think maybe my mom did a few years ago when she was staying with us and for whatever reason they didn’t come up until this year.

On their own.

Thanks Grandma! I miss you,too.

So I had this flower in water in my kitchen and the petals started to fall off.

I was emotionally unable to let go of it.

So I didn’t.

I kept the petals, thinking I might press them.

But I didn’t get around to pressing them. Instead, they just dried a little more each day.

The colors changing and intensifying over the course of about a week.

I became attached to them not only from an emotional standpoint. But from a science and art one as well.

Watching these petals dry and progress through these color changes was a gift unto itself.

Thank You Grandma for this gift. Not only of the memory of you, but also of this exploration of color and texture and science.

I did not need reminding, but I love the reminder.

I love you, too.

Don’t forget to appreciate the little things -like flower petals.

and

Remember to appreciate the time you have with your loved ones as it is fleeting.

Today I am grateful for so many precious things… flower petals, memories, family, friends, and you!

Thanks for visiting with me today!

A box of memories

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve received two boxes which were filled with precious things.

The first was a box of photos which came from my uncle. He had gone through the boxes of photos that he had and divided them up between the four of us who would have wanted them. These are pictures of Lake Tahoe and my childhood there. Pictures of my dad and the rest of my family who I spent summers and holidays with until I was a grown person and circumstances changed.

These photos are a treasure trove of memories that I can mine for precious gems to hold and feel and recall. These pictures also serve another purpose. They are tangible evidence that such a place as exists in my memories was a reality. Because this place that we inhabited there, in that place, in that time, in that way, does not exist anymore. It only exists in the hearts and memories of those of us who were there. Many of the people are gone now; either passed away or moved away. The structures have been remodeled or torn down and replaced. These things are gone into yesterday the way most things do.

But there are pictures.

That is what came for me in the mail the other day.

 

But wait, there were two boxes, right?

You may have noticed that I like to write. I think of myself as an artist. I often use brushes and paint to paint pictures. Another tool I love to use to paint with is words. As with any other medium you manipulate it, sculpting and carving, adding layers and cutting away until your satisfied that it will describe the feeling and convey the message that you want it to. I tend to write short stories and essays (hello blog!). I also write a lot of poems and songs.

What I did not know was that when my Grandma was younger she collected poems.

She clipped them from newspapers, back when newspapers might publish a poem or two.

She copied them out longhand. Sometimes she typed them up.

Sometimes she typed them up on the typewriter at work on their letterhead.

If you are younger and don’t remember what a typewriter is- you can probably google a picture of one. They are what was used for nice, tidy correspondence before the computer was invented. They are also the inspiration for some of the fonts on your computer.

In 1993 (it seems like a century ago, doesn’t it?), my uncle rounded them up and put them together in an album for her as a christmas present. My dad and uncle discussed it and decided that I would probably be the one who would appreciate this book the most. My uncle emailed my to ask me if I would like to have it. All I could say was, “yespleaseverymuch.”

And that was what else came in the mail for me.