Monkey’s Cardinals

Tags

,

Don’t worry…I’m not pathetically weepy this week. We are healing. We are slowly adjusting to life with one dog. Mabel is healing, too. She’s different now. Pensive. Surprising.

So here’s the story: From my family’s perspective, cardinals represent our deceased family members checking in on us, at least since my grandmother’s passing in 1996. Rumored to have been her favorite bird, the cardinal became synonymous with her spirit in the eyes of me and my mom. When my grandfather passed away in 2004, my uncle reported a flock of cardinals in PaPa’s backyard. Mom and I thought that a fitting representation of my grandmother calling him home.

The one exception I personally hold for this bird-spirit thing is blue jays, which remind me of my cousin, Sam. It was a blue jay who sat on a tree branch above me and sang on the morning Sam left our midst. I think Sam would have liked that he has his own bird. ;)

My dad embraced the cardinal thing when his last pup died. Now he and Mom both watch for cardinals and report on their backyard bird activity with great respect.

Even though we see cardinals flitting about in the field across the street from our home and even though I have kept a bird-feeder filled, we have never had them visit our yard. I attribute this long-standing absence of birds to Mabel and her stellar lack of hospitality. But yesterday Dom told me he saw a cardinal trying to eat from the bird feeder I recently relocated! Even though I had just cleaned and refilled it, moisture had reached the seeds and clogged the spout through which the seed is made available, so the cardinal wasn’t able to eat and consequently did not stick around. My bird feeder is cute as a button but rather meh on functionality. I cleaned it out again and put it back on the hook in hopes that the birds would return.

One of Mabel’s new quirks is that she doesn’t want to go outside alone.  It was no different this morning, so she ate breakfast in the kitchen while I made coffee. Then we ventured to the back patio together where we spied TWO cardinals playing in the yard, toward the back of the property and sort of near Mason’s grave. I froze, not wanting to scare them, and immediately looked to see Mabel’s reaction. She froze, too, ears perked. I was so afraid she was going to charge the birds. But she surprised me again as she quietly sat down beside me and watched the birds play, a new softness in her eyes. This is Mabel, people. Mabel. I can’t even lie…I started crying.

“Those are Mason’s cardinals, aren’t they, girl?” I asked in a whisper.

Her left ear twitched and four seconds passed before she charged, though quite a bit gentler than usual. The birds flew away and Mabel sauntered back to lay beside my chair.

But I think those beautiful red birds must carry some of Mason’s spirit with them, because one came back to visit the feeder at the edge of the patio. And Mabel let him.

cardinal

Love Is…

Tags

  1. Love is “You don’t look like you feel like cooking tonight. Let me take you out for sushi.”
  2. Love is giving him the first omelet, because no matter what I do the second one always burns.
  3. Love is doing the dishes together.
  4. Love is leaving for church an hour early with me every week because I volunteered for extra duties.
  5. Love is being his personal chauffeur for six months after a seizure.
  6. Love is allowing that seizure to change him for the better.
  7. Love is “You mow.  I’ll weed-eat.”
  8. Love is bringing me coffee in the mornings.
  9. Love is “Do you need the hairdryer before I put it up?”
  10. Love is leaving a note on my steering wheel that says he loves being my husband.
  11. Love is deciding together when it was time to let Mason go.
  12. Love is allowing him to bury our sweet dog in solitude.
  13. Love is grocery shopping with me at four different stores twice each month because I’m a product and ingredient freak.
  14. Love is cooking together.
  15. Love is curling into his side and relaxing in his arms.
  16. Love is putting my wayward shoes in my closet for me, or hanging up my purse.
  17. Love is hauling firewood to the back door for him before he gets home from work.
  18. Love is a crackling fire and a glass of wine waiting for me when I get home.
  19. Love is neatly laying out all the freshly-laundered clothes so they’re easier for me to fold.
  20. Love is holding my hand on a long drive.
  21. Love is quoting our favorite movies: “You’re drunk, Lovell,” and “I can’t deal with cleaning up.  Let’s sell the house.”
  22. Love is spending all day watching The Godfather trilogy.
  23. Love is “Lori Darlin'” and cutting the cards.
  24. Love is typing the meeting minutes for committees on which he is recording secretary.
  25. Love is grinning at each other around beams that would become the walls of our home.
  26. Love is “Bless you,” and “Excuse me.”
  27. Love is watching the pressure canner for me while I run an errand.
  28. Love is singing along with the 80’s station at the top of our lungs while the kids groan in the back seat.
  29. Love is wine and cheese for appetizers while the grill fires up.
  30. Love is “Don’t forget the peppers and onions.”
  31. Love is “Crap. I forgot the peppers and onions. Be right back.”
  32. Love is ironing his shirts.
  33. Love is cleaning out my car.
  34. Love is “I’m sorry,” “I was wrong,” and “Please forgive me.”
  35. Love is “I forgave you the minute you said it.”
  36. Love is curling up on the couch together watching It’s a Wonderful Life and agreeing that yes, it really is.

For all the things our love is, and all the things it is yet to be, these 18 years have been the best of my life. I love you forever, Dominic. Happy Anniversary.

 

To Mason

Tags

, , , , ,

Hey, Monk. I know you’re busy running around with your new friends. I hope you’ve met Bull and Dayzi, Boo and Emma, and Sadie-Girl. I’m sure you have several new furry friends who are waiting for their family members to come and get them. I doubt you’ve had time to check in on us, what with all the tail-sniffing and tail-wagging you’ve likely been doing since you arrived at The Rainbow Bridge.

I miss you, Monkey. I miss you so much. Daddy misses you even more, if that’s possible. And the kids, omigosh! We’ve emptied three Kleenex boxes in less than 48 hours. I think Vic emptied one all by herself. It rained for the past two days, so today was the first sunny day that I was finally able to sit on my swing next to your grave. Your headstone will arrive in a few more days, proclaiming you The Best Dog Ever. It’s the truth, you know. You were the best dog for us. I hope you know how much we loved you.

Mabel misses you, too. Although she didn’t spend much time with you when we brought your body home for burial, she knew. She tried to play it off like it was no big deal, but she looks for you still. She hasn’t strayed far from my side. Even as I type this, she lays curled up just a few feet from me. It’s funny…the independent dog who loves to be outside doesn’t want to be outside by herself anymore. But, as I sat with you on the swing today, she wouldn’t come close. She stayed far away, choosing to lounge in the sun and gaze our direction. Only when I stood to walk back inside did she come near, and then she eagerly followed me in. She didn’t do much bug-hunting these past two nights. She hasn’t complained, but we can tell by the way she stares out the window or looks at the floor that she misses you.

I don’t worry about you anymore, so that’s the up-side. I find that I am free of the constant concern that you need to go outside and aren’t saying anything, or that you’ve slipped on the hardwood or tile and can’t get yourself up. Or that you’re thirsty. I hope that water bowl in the sky is big enough for you!

No, I don’t worry about you anymore, but I miss you so terribly that it buckles my knees sometimes. I really didn’t know it was going to be this hard. I thought I was ready to let you go. The rational side of me said it was time. And I felt like you were ready. But I didn’t know that I could go for three hours completely accepting of the situation, and then break down out of nowhere, awash with this unutterable feeling of loss. Did we do the right thing for you? Did we wait too long? Not long enough? Only in my tears are there questions, only in my grief, doubt.

I miss seeing you next to the back door when I come in. I awaken at night and listen for your breathing or your cough, maybe even the playful snort as you rub your face on the carpet, “quarter-rolling” as we call it. Daddy misses seeing your head spring up when we enter the room. He buried you by himself, you know. He asked us to let him do it alone. He needed that time with you, that last offering of care for the faithful companion that he loved so much. We know ultimately that we did the right thing for you. Death is a part of life, not the end of it. A segue to a Something More. It’s just that when you stand on the edge of it and peer over the rail, you can’t see the bottom, and it’s terrifying. I don’t like that part. I don’t like it at all.

I still have my necklace on, the paw-print charm that I finally wore on Tuesday. Do you remember me showing it to you? You sniffed at it, but I don’t think you were all that impressed. I had it engraved with your name to honor your place in my heart. In the last two days I have grasped it countless times to calm my mind or steady my tears. I told Victoria that she could wear it too when she needs to feel close to you. She has asked to wear it three times already. I finally took it off and put it around her neck last night. She slept with it. I felt so lost this morning that I woke her up to take it back. She understood. I might have to invest in a charm just for her. ;)

Lots of people have missed you and cried with us. Some of the people you just met a week ago, some you’ve known for years. Vic’s friends all cried and posted sweet notes for you on Instagram. They all loved you. You are very hard not to love, Monkey!

I had decided one time that Heaven likely occupies the same space that we do, just veiled by a shimmer that separates the dimensions. A “grey rain-curtain,” as Tolkien said. I hope that’s true. It gives me comfort to think that you can still run around in our yard, even if we can’t see you. Not everyone understands the loss of a pet. Some of my friends will think I’m crazy. Some of my friends will think I’m mis-informed, or worse, sacrilegious when they learn that I believe you will be in Heaven with me. A dog with a soul? Yes, a dog-soul. Not a human soul. Something different…better. Because you were better than human. You loved everything. You loved unconditionally and without prejudice. You showed us by example how we are supposed to love each other. Humans are supposed to be smarter than dogs, but I’m not sure we measure up. You are an energy, Mason. And energy can be neither created nor destroyed; it just is. I believe that energy is soul-like. And that yours, like many beloved pets, exists on a plane somewhere between Human and Angel. Closer to Angel, I believe. Definitely.

Go run and play some more, Monkey. We love you.

Big Yella Heart

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Most pet owners think their pet is the best. The cutest. The most adorable. The most personable. I am, of course, no different. In our home, Mason and Mabel provide sympathetic comfort, fierce protection and comic relief. Actually, Mason takes charge of the first duty, and Mabel sees to the latter two items. But I digress.

Mason was chosen from a litter of free full-blooded Labrador retrievers in Benton, Louisiana. (“Free” because his mama’s owners were divorcing and hell-bent that neither party would profit from the puppies.) He was one of two yellow males in the litter. We picked him because while his brothers and sisters were gnawing on each other and brutally stepping on each other’s faces, Mason took every opportunity to worm his way to the bottom of the puppy pile. I knew instantly he was a snuggler. And that he was mine.

We painted his toenails fuchsia to claim him as “sold” and left him with his mama just a week or so more. On November 14, 1999 we brought a five-week old bundle of yellow, snugglable joy to our tiny apartment, just two weeks before we would move into our first house.

Mason was a typical puppy. He loved chewing his toys. He loved chewing my shoes. He loved chewing our satellite TV remote controls and costing us a bloody fortune. He chewed five cabinet doors, three sofas, and one baseball-size hole in the garage wall. He was spoiled rotten, one time barking at the ceiling fan because it wasn’t on (as he lay sprawled across our bed) and he was apparently too warm for his personal comfort.

Just four weeks after bringing Mason home we learned that I was pregnant with our first child. Mason was a wonderful companion during the sofa-rest days at the end of the term, laying beside me on the couch and gently resting his head on my oversized belly. I knew he sensed what was going on. I told him over and over again, “You have to protect this little guy and be his best friend, okay?” His eyes and tail would answer enthusiastically. Anxious about childbirth and motherhood, I would snuggle with Mason and tell him all the things that worried me. One afternoon I cried for half an hour because I could not imagine how in the world I would love my child as much as I loved Mason. He was my first baby. And although I knew I was being ridiculous, the tears flowed freely.

For eleven years (until he could no longer jump up on his own) Mason slept in the bed with us…with his head on my pillow. He would curl up on my side of the bed while I took my makeup off and brushed my teeth. He was incredibly warm-natured, and we referred to him as “The Heater,” because I could always count on him to warm up my side of the bed. Then, I would make him move so I could lay down, and we’d call him back up between us by chanting, “Monkey in the middle!” Mason would put his back against me, nuzzling the top of his head just under my chin. My arm would wrap over his body and under his front leg so that my hand could rest in the thick fur at his neck. He was my 88-pound security blanket.

20120130_125100000_iOS

Mason loved life. He loved the life he was living, and he loved all forms of life around him. The dogs of my childhood were great “buggers,” nailing and consuming any bug that dared enter their domain. Mason was just the opposite. I remember watching Mason watch a bug saunter across my garden-room floor. He perked his ears up in curiosity, but made no effort to approach the bug, much less kill it to protect me. I joked that as Mason watched the bug cross his path, he was thinking to himself, “Hi, little dude. Kitchen’s that way.”

IMG_2423

The squirrels in the back yard were given the same courtesy. Upwards of ten squirrels would be playing in our yard when I would open the door to let Mason outside. They would all freeze in position and look toward the door. Then it was as if they realized, “Oh, it’s just Mason!” and they would carry on like no one was there. Mason had no interest in being territorial. Sometimes he would lay in the grass and just watch the squirrels play. Our next door neighbor would often come to the fence to pet Mason, once while holding a new kitten in her arms. Mason jumped up and enthusiastically slurped the kitten across the face, completely soaking the freaked-out cat.

Although he good-naturedly enjoyed life around him, Mason loved two things with absolute unbridled passion: my best friend/sister-by-choice, Stacey, and the flashlight. Stacey used to joke that she and Mason must have been lovers in a past life because Mason could not stand to be more than two inches away from her during her visits. As for the flashlight, whenever we would extricate Mason from the middle of whatever project involved the beaming tool and set it on the counter, Mason “went to Temple,” sitting in front of it, staring patiently in statue-like worship, waiting for the light to come to life and do its magic once more.

Mason, Stacey and Victoria; Thanksgiving 2012

Mason, Stacey and Victoria; Thanksgiving 2012

When Mason was five years old we discovered that he had food allergies. We changed his food to a grain-free, dye-free, artificial-ingredient-free, expensive-as-all-get-out dog food, and nixed the PB&J sandwich crusts and McD’s French fries from his diet. And he rocked on. (Though I learned later that the kids would still sneak their crusts to him!) However, ear problems plagued Mason like nothing else. Those soft, floppy ears would get bacterial infections just about every time it rained. Mason despised his routine ear cleanings. All we had to say was, “How are the ears?” and he would duck his head and slink out of the room. The frequent infections earned him the nicknames “Funkmeister” and “Funky Monkey.” The biggest problem with the infections was the force with which Mason would shake his head. We always worried that he would burst blood vessels in his ear, and then one day, he did. I reached out early one morning to stroke his ears and felt a huge bulb under the fur. Mason’s ear looked just like a sopapilla! It required surgery, and he took every opportunity to look pitiful and elicit sympathy for the injustice he had suffered.

Happy Birthday, Mason!

I firmly believe that the love Mason gave and received combined with the dietary choices we made for him kept him healthy and happy for a much longer time than we might have been originally allotted. A little over a year ago, our veterinarian diagnosed him with an enlarged esophagus and a potentially enlarged heart. But we already knew he had a big heart. We were fortunate enough to be held within it.

For fourteen years Mason has been a source of soft and cuddly comfort in our home. My children have not known a single day without him. Dom and I fell so hard in love with this creature that we do not want to know a day without him. But now we must. We never wanted Mason to suffer. As we watched Mason age and struggle with the effects of being an elderly large-breed dog, Dom would frequently ask me, “Is it time?” and I would always answer, “No, not yet.” I reasoned that as long as Mason still looked happy, as long as he could get himself where he needed to go, and as long as his tail still wagged and ears still perked up when he saw us, that it would not be time. But the day came when Dom once again asked if it was time, and my heart broke wide open as I finally said, “Yes.” Quality of life is more important than quantity, and Mason gave us more quality than we could have imagined possible.

We chose to take Mason to the vet for the final time during the first week of summer when Dom and I were both off work and could be with the kids and Mabel for the whole week as we adjust to life with one less heartbeat in our home. I held Mason close in the back of my van and stroked his ears as he drew his final peaceful breath, whispering to him that I loved him and that I would see him again, because no Heaven of mine will be complete if he is not there.

Dom laid Mason to rest in the backyard in the spot I picked out while we were building our house. He rests now between our lounging swing and a crepe myrtle, within arm’s reach from where I will spend my time relaxing, just as if we were enjoying any normal day, with him curled up at my feet.

As I searched for the perfect words to express how I feel today, I came across this quote from Winnie the Pooh: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” (A.A. Milne). Thank you, Lord, for blessing us with this gentle giant and his big yella heart.

My favorite picture of Mason and the kids, Spring 2007

My favorite picture of Mason and the kids

In Memoriam: The Greats

Tags

, , , ,

In the course of the last seven weeks Dom and I have lost three of our great-uncles. Though I recall only recent visits with the two uncles on my side of the family, I was accustomed to seeing Dom’s great-uncle at Mass every Saturday. All three men were spry, witty and energetic for their ages. I loved looking through their photos and hearing them reminisce with tales from their youth – or, at the very least, tales predating my own youth. It is not lost on me that we were blessed to have known these uncles for so long, to have been a part of their lives and to have had them as a part of ours. They loved and treasured their families and are greatly missed by those of us who were fortunate enough to enjoy their company on this earth.

Lawrence Louis Ebarb
September 27, 1923 – February 19, 2014

Uncle Larry (far right) with Uncle Alvin and twin sister Aunt Florence

Uncle Larry (far right) with Uncle Alvin and twin sister Aunt Florence

Roy Emanuel Harris
September 16, 1927 – March 25, 2014

Uncle Roy with sisters Martha and Chris

Uncle Roy with sisters Martha and Chris

Keith Eldon Wilson
June 16, 1926 – March 28, 2014

UncleKeith

Have you ever seen a more contented smile?

 

Though I believe each of these dear men are now happily reunited with loved ones who have gone before us, my heart breaks for our family members who feel their loss so deeply: my grandmother and our great-aunts who have said goodbye to their brothers and husband, our second-cousins who will miss their dads, and also for our first-line aunts and uncles as well as our parents – Dom’s mom and my dad – who can recall these towering personalities from their own childhoods. I pray the Lord will hold them close through their sorrow and bestow unending peace upon them.

Times of loss bring the words of Tolkien to me with immense comfort: “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path. One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass. Then you see it!… White shores, and beyond. A far green country, under a swift sunrise.”

Hail and Farewell, sweet and gentle men. May you rest eternally in peace.

Six Short Years

Tags

, ,

I leave my children chatting in the hallway outside their bedroom doors.  As I crawl into bed, my sixth grader and my eighth grader verbally rib each other in a way that only siblings can. They get loud for a brief moment.  The high-pitched giggle, the playfully exasperated growl.  I imagine that their antics will rouse Dom and bring out the Daddy-growl, but he breathes steadily beside me.  I won’t be reminding him tonight that someday we will miss this revelry.  The quiet we often long for will cover our home like a blanket soon enough.  These two noise-makers will grow up and leave our chipper little nest.

Tonight their chatter reassures me.  Before I am aware that the banter has stopped I hear his door close.  The hallway dims with the flip of her switch.

Silence.

I stare into wordless darkness for a few minutes before I bury my face in the pillow.  I pray that I will remember to appreciate the noise in our house, as it will only last for the next

six

short

years.

Celebrity

Tags

, , , , ,

So there I was, checking in with Facebook, when I saw a friend’s link to a post stating that Philip Seymour Hoffman had died.  I sat down.  Right there in my hallway.  Just sat, for like, two or three minutes.  And then Dom walked in and I stood up as if nothing had just stolen my breath, and I told him what I’d just read.  And then I felt stupid for being so winded by the passing of someone I didn’t even know.

But we feel like we know them – celebrities – right?  I mean, we invite them into our lives, carrying them around on the little discs that become their immortal home.  I really liked Mr. Hoffman as a portrayer of characters.  Anyone who can make me hate him in one movie and love him in the next gets my vote as an acting great.  It’s easy to love the good guys all the time. It’s the ones who make you appreciate them even when they’re portraying perfectly imperfect characters that I really like.  And so that’s how I felt about Mr. Hoffman.  I thought he was a cut above.

So if he had died from say, an innocent heart attack, I might not have felt so betrayed.  But he didn’t.  He died from something I don’t understand and can hardly excuse.

But then, it’s not really my place to excuse him from anything, is it?

Admittedly, I generally assume most untimely celebrity deaths result from drugs, whether they say so or not in the media.  And that fact – the media involvement – actually pisses me off more than the drug abuse itself.  We will mourn the loss of a talented actor, and that’s okay to do as community of people who didn’t know him personally.  But we don’t need to be in his business past that.  We don’t need to know the intimate details of his passing.  And he, for all his talent and self-torture, deserves a little peace in which to rest.  A peace which should be granted to all celebrities before they die, if you ask me.

I once read an article somewhere about famous people in general and the difficulty that comes with celebrity. The author stated that it is hard to be famous, having to constantly impress a fickle audience and top your last big act.  Oh, sure, you can play your tiny violins for them because they’re all rich and famous, and didn’t they ask for this, and what-the-hell-do-they-have-to-complain-about-anyway, but the truth of the matter is that I would not want that kind of pressure in my life, and if I ever was talented enough to be known world-wide, I imagine that I would crave anonymity like an earthworm craves dirt.  To have every facet of my life on the glass slides of other people’s microscopes would probably drive me to do things I find unconscionable in my present life.  I mean, when we really look at any celebrity, he or she is just a man or woman with a job and bills to pay.  They have families that drive them crazy, and they sometimes drive their families crazy.  They have friends and they have enemies.  They have to put their pants on one leg at a time, same as you and me.  The dollar differential between them and us is really inconsequential.  It’s all life.  And then it’s over, sometimes way too soon.

And so I try not to indulge in the tales of celebrity lives.  I see the tabloids at the grocery store checkout, screaming to our bored-with-WalMart selves that one celebrity has gained weight while another nearly starved herself to death.  That one celebrity is cheating while another is cheated on.  That one celebrity is lashing out at fans while another is a closet Mommie Dearest.  I see these things and I think, “Omigosh, if they wrote headlines about me I don’t think I could stand it!” And I know half of those things are not true and some of them are only half-true, while most of them are twisted versions of a truth we all live.  So I scoff at them, openly if my kids are with me, and I explain to my children that sadly this is how some people make their money – by tearing other people down, and that we should always strive to lift people up.  And we really shouldn’t participate in the gossip of other people’s lives, because it’s hard enough just living our own life and we don’t know the real troubles in another’s life unless we walk in his or her footsteps. Et cetera.

So I guess I’ll shake the shock of another celebrity dying and focus on what I would want for my family if we were the ones dealing with the death of a loved one in the public eye.  I would want privacy.  I would want peace.  I would want to know that somewhere there was someone who appreciated my loved one and simultaneously respected my wishes.

I know he had other more astounding roles, but I will always see Philip Seymour Hoffman as the arrogant med student in Patch Adams, only as his character was at the end when he had finally “gotten it” and he sat there after Patch’s hearing before the Medical Board, hands in his pockets, smiling broadly and nodding knowingly.

This is the least I can do for someone who bothered to entertain me.

Creative or Crazy: Sometimes It’s a Coin Toss

Tags

, , ,

Victoria sat beside me diligently watching as I put the finishing touches on a baby shower gift for my cousin.  “I wish I could paint like you, Mamma.  I can’t paint at all,” she complained.

“Technically, I’m not painting.  I’m writing.  This is no great skill, sweetie,” I assured her.   I had replicated the Suessian poem Baby, Oh Baby, The Places You’ll Go in the shape of a dinosaur.  I had to write the entire poem in said dino shape four times before I got my spacing and letter size just right.  And even then, some letters were wonky, the word “scrumpulous” folded in on itself inside the brontosaurus’ foot, and I realized too late that I had given him the wrong type of tail. The gift recipients seemed not to notice the flaws immediately, and I was grateful.

But I was also inspired.  Driven.  Hooked.

Victoria and I traipsed to our local craft stores the next night in search of a wreath for our front door, and I suggested we just go “look” at the canvases.  They were on sale.  Half-off.  I left Michael’s with a large grapevine wreath (which aren’t so much grapevine anymore as they are tangles of leaves and twigs.  What’s up with that?) and a 36×48 canvas, labeled “Artist Professional Level 1: Beginner”… mostly because it was cheaper, but also because, really, there’s no sense kidding myself.

That’s the basis of this project, but here’s the history.  I originally set out this summer to make two word-art prints for Dom’s birthday.  One would be lyrics of songs that make me think of him, and the other would be quotes from my favorite love-story books.  I gave each a different design so that they would be similar but not the same, and filled in the background with more corresponding text.  This is the result:

photo

Since I couldn’t work on these prints in Dom’s presence and I was itching to keep drawing and word-arting (making up your own words is a fine art, too, you see), I decided to bring the bible verses forward from within our walls where I wrote them in 2012.  I wanted them all in one place where I could view them, and I wanted them to form a picture.  So I shaped words and verses into a tree design and got this:

photo

But I drew this on poster board, which is totally not standard frame size (who knew?) and therefore all but useless unless I wish to thumb-tack it to my wall or hang it on the fridge.  So I figured with a little perseverance I could re-create the tree on a larger canvas.  And since this is for my enjoyment, I could take as long as I need to get it just right.  So began the process:

photo

This photo was taken about an hour too late, actually.  I should have taken the picture before the darker color was applied to the canvas, the point at which it looked as if Mabel had stuck her nose in yellow paint and sniffed all over the canvas.  The same point at which I sat back on the floor, stared up at the easel and said to myself, “Holy crap…I’m worse at this than I thought I’d be!”

It is at this moment that I feel compelled to beg mercy from the judgments of true artists.  I realize I have no clue what I’m doing when it comes to painting.  Refer once again to the post title, please.

Over the next few nights I dabbled in my art project, adding swirly verses and wondering if there was some way to use more color on the canvas and blend it so that it looked more like sunlight behind the tree.  I determined that for my skill level, there was not.

For the next several weeks (er, months) I worked on it a little at a time.  I took over the upstairs game room, setting up my paints and easel near the window for good light, and indulgently leaving a mess no one had to clean up or look at.  I totally felt like Ally in The Notebook, painting in the room Noah created just for her.  Except that I was fully dressed.

Now, here we are, already in another year, and with the Christmas decorations all put away there is a gaping blank space on my living room wall just waiting for the finished tree.  And tonight, that blank wall is filled with the verses that have carried me through the process of making this house our home.  Of course, it’s only now that I realize my efforts to make the canvas match the wall were too well-coordinated.  The canvas blends right into the wall, making the picture look not nearly as artful as I had hoped.  When I lamented the fade-away quality of my color choices, Dom asked what could be done to correct it.  Ahem… start over?

Maybe next year.

photophoto

 

 

Ciao, 2013!

Tags

, , ,

Is anyone else in as much shock as I am that 2013 is over?  I mean, we just got it started, right?  2012 flew by for us in uncertainty and anticipation.  2013 was supposed to creep.  Creeeeeeeeeeeeeep, I say!

But it didn’t.  It’s over.  Gone.  Just like that.  Poof!  Our first year in the new house, our first (and only) year of both kids in middle school, a quiet and peaceful year.  The year that was supposed to settle in, get comfy and stay a while slipped out like a welcome house-guest, leaving the borrowed blankets folded neatly on the sofa.  We hate to see that sweet guest go, but are grateful for the memories it left behind.

January:  Aaron’s first Social Studies project.  He’s more a Science Fair kinda guy.  But he had fun with this.

January2013February: We finally finished building the fence.  Whew!!!!        Feb2013March: Victoria’s birthday party, of course!!

March2013

April: Lady, my Father-in-law’s yellow lab, decided she wanted to help Dom mow the yard.  As you see, she’s all in!

April2013

May: The kiddos, hanging out and being sweet to each other.  (Cue collective awwwwww!)

May2013

June: You know there’s always at least one month with no notable pictures to speak of.  This is the one for 2013.  As I attempted to re-upholster the wing-back chair myself, this is one of the wounds I suffered.  I know, I know…big whoop.

June2013

July: Mabel is a food thief.  Here she has absconded with a hoagie roll that Aaron had made into a ham sandwich.  The entire hoagie, minus these two inches you see, is in her big fat mouth.

July2013

August: For the first time in Caddo Parish history, three Mainiero children are at the same school.  I had to document it.

August2013

September: Some mornings the sun shines just right through our front door and casts a rainbow on everything in its path.

September2013

October: This one deserves the video.  It just does.  We told Mabel that this is what happens to animals who steal food off of my kitchen counter.

November: I felt like the Grinch decorating his dog.  Except I think Mabel and Mason wear their antlers cuter than Max.  ;)

November1-2013

November2 - 2013

December: The frosty, sunlit view from the deer stand. It was prettier in person.  The best part was watching the cardinals play as the sun came up.  You know, since the deer didn’t feel like coming out…

December

May your New Year’s celebrations be fun and safe.  And may 2014 bring you peace and joy.

Who Moved My Trailer?!!

Tags

, , , , ,

Following up on last week’s post about my mishaps as Santa Claus, I drove to FedEx today fully prepared to have a Come-to-Jesus meeting, though whether they or I needed it more, I’m still unsure.

I had already contacted the online entity who sold me the posters and they are sweetly refunding my shipping charges.  I begged them to make FedEx find and deliver my package but like most things, once shipped, my items were at the mercy of the FedEx seas.  I was finally able this morning to determine that my package was dropped off at the main FedEx office on Christmas Eve where it continued to wait for me to pick it up.  The really fun part is that I was just supposed to know this inherently because FedEx, in all their wisdom and Christmas rush, made no further effort to contact me.  I spewed forth with unholy condemnations in the car as Dom pointed out that we were about to drive past a FedEx truck on the street near our neighborhood.

“Pull closer to him so I can flip him off!!” I demanded.  He didn’t.  So I didn’t.  It’s for the best.

I toyed with the idea of calling FedEx and insisting that they deliver my package today, but I decided knowing where my package sat was preferable to having it roam the streets again. So I drove myself to the shipping facility…fists taped, gloves on.

Once inside, I paused at the counter only to remind myself that the lady behind the counter is not the idiotic driver who failed to deliver Aaron’s gift on Christmas Eve.  She’s just working the FedEx counter, doing her job just like I would be doing mine if my office were open today.  She does not personally deserve my wrath.  Once she located my package she asked, “Do you have a new address?”  And so I launched into the whole stupid story – much like I did with you – and reiterated that the address on the package is indeed current and correct.

“I am so, so sorry for this mistake,” she offered.  Call me easy, but that was good enough for me.  Like I said, none of this crap was her fault.  I told her I would have been most happy with another phone call to alert me to the fact that my package would be available for pickup.  She agreed and apologized again.  We wished each other a good day and I hauled my four-foot long cylinder of a poster package to the car.

All in all, this goofy incident was little more than a hassle with a happy ending.  Aaron got his posters, I maintained my dignity, and the FedEx lady hopefully had an uneventful day at work.  As I stripped the cardboard cylinder of its labels containing my address I saw the driver’s reason for not delivering it, penned in the “other” category at the bottom of the adhesive label:

IMG_4113That’s right, folks.  Apparently my trailer was gone when he tried to deliver to it.  Like we place Internet orders all the time and then move the house before delivery.  I am thoroughly convinced that the dude wasn’t even on my street.  ‘Cause my trailer’s kinda hard to miss:

IMG_4111

Merry Christmas!!

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 386 other followers