May 3, 2015

Patty Gay Toothman

I found out just now that while I was laying in bed last night composing a letter to you in my head, you died. I have missed your physical presence in my life for more than 20 years, but you were always a phone call or letter away. You were one of the best people I have known in my life and you gave me unconditional love when I needed it most. You were my second Mom. I am glad that your struggles are over, and all that is wicked and wretched in the world can no longer hurt you. You took care of me when I needed it, and I hope knowing that you had one more person in the world unconditionally loving you was a source of comfort for you at the end. You will always have a place in my heart and your voice will be in my head telling me that everything will be alright and I should do the thing that makes me happy. 

Dear Patty,

Thank you for loving me unconditionally and with your whole heart.  Thank you for looking after me, and holding me when I needed to cry or just needed a hug. Thank you for all of the laughter over all of these years. You were one of the funniest and most gracious people I have ever known. Thank you for all of those late night talks sitting on the balcony in our nightgowns, drinking iced tea, and eating your homemade chocolate chip cookies. Thank you for trusting me with your secrets and for holding on to mine. I would love to get a peek at the journals I gave you over the years, just to see what I missed by not seeing you everyday. You deserved better than you got in life. You deserved to not have to struggle and fight just to hang on to your family, but even in that struggle, you were an amazing, strong, wonderful woman. I cannot begin to express how much you are going to be missed. 

Rest in peace,  Mom.

I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. 

With an abundance of affection,


Apr 10, 2015

Aspiring Author

Drafter Architect Desk Junk Drawer Clean Out Lot

 I think most people who keep a blog probably have a not so secret desire to publish something that they have written at least once in their lives. 

It takes an aspiring  writer to recognize another aspiring writer, which I did, while shopping the Goodwill auction site tonight. 

Much to my delight, I feel like I stumbled upon a kindred spirit. A stifled author channeling their inner J. Peterman wrote the most wonderful descriptions of collections of mostly tat. 

The descriptions of these lots of random items beautifully spin the beginning of a biography about the people who might have owned them. 

It is like an improv challenge for writers using props, or possibly a teaser about a character in the author's own half-finished novel. 

Whatever it is, I like it enough to have read all of the vignettes and I hope that there will be more to come from the anonymous Hemingway. I am amazed at the amount of nostalgia the author's words can inspire for people who do not exist outside my imagination. 

I found this photograph to be particularly intriguing. Her shoulder bared as she looks directly into the lens, as though she posed for a boudoir photo in an era that would have deemed her sensuousness improper. 

The description: 

Drafter Architect Desk Junk 
Drawer Clean Out Lot

The hard working Architect married to his job. All of his loved tools each one he knew by touch. The short breaks to sit out on the porch and smoke his cigarettes or his well use pipe. The picture secreted away of a love once lost. In this lovely lot you can almost feel the pride that was taken in his work. Perhaps even a hint of him playing poker with some of the other "boys." 
A peak into this lot and you will see a whimsical ashtray, vintage to newer drafting tools, prints of Governor's Place & a few other buildings, vintage Oregon license plate, magnifying glass, playing cards, stationary and much more.

8.6 Lbs

Wood, paper, plastic, metal and fabric.

Things are used. Tarnish and discoloration that adds great character. 

Somethings are used and vintage although not all things will be vintage. 

Even the pattern on these cards and the foil on their box hearken back to another time. I can't remember the last time I saw a set of playing cards like this for sale in a shop.

There are several collections, Military, Farmer, Miner, Small Town Doctor, and no telling what the author will come up with next. To see more, check here, and search for "junk drawer" or possibly "collection,"  and hopefully, the adventure will continue.

Mar 31, 2015

GOP Tripping

It is no surprise to me that the GOP presidential candidates are tripping all over themselves to defend the right of their constituents to deny a group of people (specifically gays - this time) the same civil liberties that they enjoy. It may not be a "right" to purchase from whomever you choose, but it is a right to not be discriminated against, and it should apply to race, religion, gender (including trans), or sexual orientation. 

We live in America, and freedom of religion is supposed to be a freedom to pray (or not) to the god (or gods) of your choosing. It was never meant to be a tool to systematically discriminate against any group of people because you don't like the way they live, love, or who associate with. Quit picking out the parts of the Bible that suit your hateful agenda and perhaps peruse (and take to heart) the parts that pertain to loving your fellow man, whether you think they are sinners or not.

The world is changing, as it always does, and bigots are less tolerated with each passing decade. Gay marriage will be legalized nationally, hopefully in my lifetime. Marijuana will be legalized, as well. Things change and you can either rail against change and whine that the world is not as good as it used to be when you were young, or you can stop trying to control other people, learn to embrace change and let go of fear, and just try being a better person than you are right now. 

Mar 30, 2015

Google Autocomplete vs. Religion

I started off this day in a great mood. Even after I hit a big piece of concrete in the road and tore up the splash guard under my car, I just drove on into work and scheduled an appointment at the dealership to get it fixed this afternoon. While waiting for the car to be fixed, I had to endure a couple of hours of CNN posting non-stop doom and gloom. From the  German Wings pilot who flew into the Swiss Alps to the breaking news of two men dressed as women trying to breach the NSA and being shot to death. 

All the while I am thumbing my way through friends' Facebook posts and marveling at the state of the world through their eyes. That's when my mind started to wander and I began to wonder about Google and religion. A couple of years ago, I remember seeing a post that showed how typing into a Google search the phrase "I'm afraid of..." would be completed at that time by the autocomplete in Google with the phrase "Chinese people." I checked today and the top answer is "Americans." Thanks, David Bowie...and scary Americans. 

So I started typing in world religions and entertained myself with that until my car was ready. I stopped at 20, but obviously the list is not all-inclusive, nor is it static. The same list could turn up much different answers next week. The results found today are as follows:

1. Christians are..."annoying" (only answer)

2. Buddhists are.... (seriously, there was no suggestion, which may mean that Buddhists don't count. Weird.)

3. Jains are... "the richest" and "stupid"

4. Muslims are..."not terrorists" (only answer)

5. Hindus are... (no suggestions...just like the Buddhists)

6. Jews are... (no suggestions, but if you just type "Jews" the first suggestions is "for Jesus," which is a dirty rotten lie, leading one to ask, "WTF, Google?!?!")

7. Scientologists are... "insane," "idiots," "morons," and "crazy"

8. Jehovah Witnesses are..."a cult," "right," "wrong," and "weird"

9. Methodists are... "Baptists who can read," "weird," and "going to hell"

10. Mormons are...(no suggestions)

11. Quakers are... "awesome," "weird," and "a cult"

12. Atheists are... "wrong"

13. Agnostics are ..."cowards," "the smartest," "right," and "atheist"

14. Pagans are..."the reason for the season," "stupid," "evil," and "idiots"

15. Wiccans are..."evil," "retarded," idiots," and "satanists"

16. Baptists are..."not Presbyterian," "crazy," and "evil"

17. Presbyterians are..."wrong," "puritans and puritans are Calvinists," "the spirit of the Antichrist," and "baptists who can read"

18. Catholics are..."not Christians" (only answer, and I think they may disagree with this one, just sayin'.)

19. Shakers are..."celibate," "still around," and "Amish" 

20. Religion is..."the opiate of the masses," "bullshit," "fake," and "dying"

I had several thoughts (and laughs) while compiling this list. A few of my thoughts are as follows:

1. Who knew that Presbyterians were reviled enough (or in any way) that they would have such terrible results? Note to self: Look into Presbyterianism, this could be much more interesting than you might expect.

2. Pagans, who exist in infinitesimally lower numbers than Buddhists, are funny - "the reason for the season" and also, apparently thought about by Googlers a lot more than Buddhists.

3. The Church of Scientology is not as good at scrubbing the internet and all media of negative information about them. Perhaps laying off the lawsuits and easing up on the control issues might win you a few more converts, Scientology...probably not.

4. Wiccans rank right about even with Scientologists when comparing their Google autocomplete results. I don't think that is fair to Wiccans, but that is how the cookie crumbled today.  

5. Which is it, Methodists or Presbyterians who are "Baptists that can read?" 

Mar 8, 2015


3 PM on a Grey Day by Finijo

The sky has been grey all morning, as if the day has been in perpetual gloaming. Even though the weather has been temperate this weekend compared to the rest of the country, today's rainy grey offering has begun to creep into a colder, nastier version of itself.

This weekend was deliberately spent in the most lazy way I could manage. After months of working through lunch and late into the evening, I just unplugged. I have been in the same purple fleece pajamas for two days and as much as I keep telling myself I need to shower and go get groceries, I can't seem to make myself do it. Zero volition.

Yesterday, I binged on season two of Hannibal on Roku, then finished the season of Blacklist that I missed, when I walked away from Dish Network in favor of saving more than $1200 this year. I watched a few episodes of The Following to finish off my evening, then realized it was 4 AM and I should probably be getting to sleep.  

Of course I slept late and woke around 10:30 am thinking I needed to do something more with my time than yesterday. I did some basic (very basic) yoga with one of the yoga channels on Roku, which is not a bad way to force one's self awake. I changed one one purse for another and watched the movie, Dear White People. Luckily she went to New York Bagels up the street and got us breakfast burritos for brunch, or I might have skipped eating altogether. 

For the record, Hannibal is the most beautifully artistic show on television that I have ever seen. The visual style and the sound editing and music are superb. I enjoyed Dear White People and thought of how well it book ends School Daze, which came out when I was in college. So much has changed, and not much has changed, depending on how you look at it. 

I've given up on a shower today and will just wait till morning. I know, gross, but it has been really good to not force myself into action today. 

Feb 18, 2015

New York City!

Over NYC by Finijo

Years ago I posted a blog entry titled John Trent Kuykendall, because I was looking for a long lost friend. A few months back, I found him and was fortunate enough to have -an unused ticket that allowed me to fly business class to New York City for a reunion and a pretty fabulous weekend. 

Snit by Finijo

I managed to choose the coldest time of year for my trip. Not only the coldest time of year but the coldest it had been in 20 years, so our activities were somewhat limited. Braving the cold, we managed to do a few things on my list for this trip, and having the list unfinished, leaves the necessity for a return trip to do all of the things we did not get to.

Subway Escalator by Finijo

When I got to the apartment from JFK, we decided to grab a bite to eat and happened upon the TKTS booth with no line, allowing us to get tickets for the show I was dying to see, Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Belasco Theater. It was fantastic, all the more so because David Cameron Mitchell was starring, even though he injured his leg and was in a full leg cast. He is brilliant in his hilarious show and he managed to work the injury into the show (he was attacked at a Dress Barn). It was an unforgettable performance. 

Down by Finijo

With a wind chill factor in the negative, I thought my face would freeze on the way back to John's place after the show, but managed to survive. We also got to have we got to have a conversation with an interesting couple on the subway and share some very interesting people watching.

 Ed Koch is Gay by Finijo

This was my first trip to New York City since 1978 and things have most definitely changed. The last time I visited NYC it looked pretty much just like it looks in The French Connection, dirty, dangerous, and bleak. Although I only got out to a few places, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Roosevelt Island, everywhere I went it was so much cleaner than I remember (with the exception of the snit piles which consisted of grey snow and trash). I think that in spite of all that transpired in NYC over the years, the city and the people have managed to make the city better than ever and also developed a sense of humor. 

Take That Poseur by Finijo

Because of the weather, we only ventured out during the day for the rest of the trip. We talked and caught up and watched so many movies I lost count. One of the movies was one of John's favorites, and it is now one of my favorites, too: The Normal Heart. I never knew Ed Koch was gay, which makes his inaction with regard to the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 80's all the more sad, because it fostered an atmosphere that allowed the virus to spread unchecked and kill thousands of homosexual men in NYC. We laughed our asses off watching Bad Words and This is Where I Leave You. Jane Fonda is still amazing and Jason Batemen could read a cookbook and make me laugh. I enjoyed Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Hansel and Gretel much more than I expected, and the rest of the movies we binged on during the freezing nights in Brooklyn escape me at the moment. The delicious brownies John made are, alas, still with me.

View from Roosevelt Island by Finijo

Another outing that was on my bucket list was to take the tram to Roosevelt Island and have breakfast. This was totally worth braving the cold for, especially when it started snowing while we were on the island and we got to take the trip back in the snow. I got a pretty good video (albeit with some glitching) of the tram ride. Our breakfast at the Riverwalk Bar and Grill was delicious and our server (Teri) was awesome. I think we sat there for about 3 hours reminiscing and catching up on our lives over the last 20+ years. I don't think either of us realized it was Valentine's Day until Teri brought us each a little signed Valentine's Day card with Hello Kitty on it. 

Junior's Cafe in Brooklyn by Finijo

We ventured out for breakfast at Junior's, an old school deli cafe in Brooklyn for a great breakfast and more conversation. With the record low temperatures, we became very adept at bundling up before leaving the apartment, but we were still at the mercy of arctic wind gusts that sliced through the buildings and hit your face like the smiting hand of Mr. Freeze. I was surprised and very pleased that the street vendors still made it out every day that I was there, mainly because they all seemed to have a pretty good selection of scarves, ear muffs, and knit caps. Damn, it was cold!

Freedom Tower by Finijo

Coincidentally, my trip to NYC overlapped with my cousin Andy's work trip. We met up for a drink near Freedom Tower. He had just gone to the 9/11 Museum and I wanted to see Freedom Tower and the fountain, but knew I couldn't handle the museum. Andy did visit the museum and told me that I made the correct choice.
9/11 Drained Fountain by Finijo

I don't think I will ever want to visit it. I have been to the Holocaust Museum in Houston several times over the years, and while it moves me, there are several decades separating me from the events that brought so much misery to so much of the world. I am touched by the events profoundly, but there is a level of detachment for me that allows me to read about and view the relics of that era that I don't think will ever exist with 9/11. There is no detachment, only a wound that is very slowly healing as the years quickly pass since the event that changed everything.  I think the museum should exist and I think it will be necessary for understanding for generations not yet born. They will need what that museum offers to put the events in context with the lives they were born into. I do not have than need, or the desire to relive the impetus for what has evolved into more than 10 years of wasteful war. I see the result of that on a human scale in my job each day and it wounds me.

Brooklyn Statue  by Finijo

To end on a lighter note, I have to say that I can't wait to go back. The city has a bit of whimsy to it that didn't exist 35 years ago. The people were actually friendly and even the public art makes you smile. I loved getting to see my friend again after all these years and I have a laundry list of things for us to do when I return. I am not going to wait 20  years for our next reunion.

Jan 31, 2015

Rod McKuen

I was going to try to write something eloquent about the passing of the man who is my favorite poet, but I am at a loss for words to describe how big I think this loss is, not just to me but to the world. The death of Rod McKuen on January 29, 2015 will likely bring about the reissue of his books and recordings, and no doubt inspire documentaries and perhaps even biographies, both penned and on film. I will simply post words that can be readily found on his website, as they are comforting and seem fitting at this time. 

A Safe Place To Land

There should be some silence in this place so thought can harvest things it's lately caught. I hope that you will take this as a resting space. A bench provided just before the clearing up ahead.

Rest here, be foolish, not merely lady, gent. Be a little useless for a time. Turn around and chase your tail. Roll on your back, paws up and out. Rub up against me as you pass. My old leg is sturdy and as good a scratching place as yonder tree. Lap the day up in my lap. Inhale the earth. Suck in my breath. And breathe it back to me in ways I have forgotten.

Arms around me these past years have not been commonplace, your comfort passed to me from out there, somewhere - dare we call it outer space, has kept me safe. Your thought embraces better than the memory's triumph over time. I have longed for you, thought up songs for you, missed and mourned you as the times passed past. Here you are. Brought back to me by your wish mixed with mine. Noise cannot touch us here. I will try and make for you the calmest place there is within this loud and getting louder world.

No map to help us find the tranquil flat lands, clearings calm, fields without mean fences. Rolling down the other side of life our compass is the sureness of ourselves. Time may make us rugged, ragged round the edges, but know and understand that love is still the safest place to land.

Rod McKuen, April, 1998

Jan 30, 2015

Bodhi RIP

Bodhi came into our lives 10 years ago when we rescued him from the inside of an armchair that had been unceremoniously chucked into our apartment complex dumpster. Today we had to put him to sleep, because he became very ill, very fast, and the prognosis was an imminent and  painful death. 
 Bodhi of the Dumpster Day One by Finijo

He had inflammatory bowel disease, a mass in his bowels, and lymphoma. He was a good cat that had a few idiosyncrasies, like licking and pulling his fur from his belly and legs...completely off. We thought that he must be a nudist at heart, because he liked to keep things really "clean,"  pretty much bald and it was a full time job for him. When it first started, we were told that we would have to put him to sleep, because it would cause problems with his bowels. We decided to wait and see how he did and 8 years later, I guess they were right. I'm glad we didn't listen at the time.
Belly Fur Growing Back In by Finijo 

He loved all kinds of dairy and didn't mind helping himself to what was in your spoon, whether you wanted him to or not. Damn, he was fast with the swipe, then he would just sit there and lick it off his paw right in front of you, like he had every right to what you were eating. His favorite dairy was yogurt, with cream cheese being a close second. 
Bodhi's Toof by finijo
He was a fan of peanut butter and in his last couple of days, he wouldn't touch food, but he would still eat a little peanut butter and in the end, he would only eat cat treats. When he was feeling good, he would chase cat treats thrown into another room. He like the long chase and he would even catch them in mid-air with one of his massive paws and eat right from his paw, just like he did when he successfully swiped your ice cream from your spoon.  
 Bodhi and Con Asleep by Finijo

Bodhi had two fangs, but one was HUGE and we loved it. When he would sleep on my lap, he invariably slept with that fang digging into my wrist and he drooled. When he left, I would have a pool of cat drool in his fang indentation and it never failed to gross me out, but I let him do it anyway. He couldn't help it, where do you put a tooth like that?
Bodhi and Lena ca. 1995 by Finijo

Bodhi loved to snuggle with everyone. Lena and Saffie both groomed him and he ate it up and let them take care of him, right through his last night. I awoke this morning to find them wrapped around him like they have done a thousand times before, even though I knew they knew something was wrong. It seemed like they were extra gentle with him in his last week and they didn't abandon him when they smelled the cancer or he got a little cranky with them. 
Bodhi and Steve ca. 1995

Even though Bodhi would snuggle with anyone, he was always grateful to hang out with the boys. He would lick the water from Con's hair after a shower and he cozied up to our nephew, Steve, whenever he visited. Any repair man who came to the house was treated to his loud meows, insistent on being petted, whether they wanted to, or not.
Lena Groomd Bodhi by Finijo

He was even-tempered with everyone, even though he never got tired of pinning Lena or Lenore by the back of the neck and then kicking them vigorously with his hind legs. Oddly enough, neither cat really protested when it happened, they just got up and acted like nothing was amiss when he finished kicking them. 
Bodhi, Lena, and Saffie by Finijo

When we found Bodhi, we already had Lena, a 5 year old Siamese and Saffie a 2 year old Birman/Siamese mix. They were very patient with him and he never lacked for a play partner for rough housing or a snuggle partner for sleep.  
 Bodhi, Lena, and Saffie 2 by Finijo

Bodhi always seemed to be a little obsessive-compulsive to us. He had rituals. When he got into my lap, he always jumped up from the right facing left, then kneaded my lap for a few minutes, then he turned to face the left and kneaded it a little more, and finally he would start to sit down, but at the last minute twist his body so that his head would rest on my left arm. The process usually took a few minutes and I learned not to fight it.
 Three Amigos by Finijo

He had a similar ritual when he wanted to sleep in my bed. It started by taking a running leap from the floor to my stomach, then paw at the covers, then do paw the mattress and finally he would lay down with his head toward the foot of the bed and all four cold feet firmly and simultaneously planted in my side and hip. Again, it was part of his charm.
 Bodhi Claims the Rug by Finijo

Another of his oddities was his reaction to the doorbell or someone knocking on the door. He ran toward the door and growled, just like a dog. We often said to him, "Good dog," and he earned the moniker "puppy-cat." His love of chasing treats that were thrown was very dog-like, too. 
Bodhi Eats Yogurt by Finijo

Con assisted in Bodhi's euthanasia by giving him the first shot, a sedative. Marilyn, Connor, and I stroked him until he fell asleep and then Dr. Sloat gave him the last shot and we all continued to stroke him until he drifted out of our lives. We enjoyed him very much while he was here, and we think that he had a pretty fine life after we snatched him out of the death chair so many years ago. Today was a sad day, but we know we made the the best choice from the hard choices we were given. The other kitties will adjust in time, as will we, but today, we all just hurt. Bodhi is gone now, but he is definitely not forgotten.

Jan 7, 2015

Week 1, 2015

Abstract Aksel 2014 by Finijo

One week into the new year and it's already shaping up to be a mixed bag of nuts. I have not quite shaken my end of the year illness (strep and a mystery stomach virus), but feeling like hell throughout my vacation has me back on track to eating better and taking care of myself. If you asked me on December 15th if I had any New Year's resolutions on my mind, I would have told you definitely not. I didn't feel like eating better or exercising before the 1st, but as soon as the stomach virus cleared, I had no appetite for food that is bad for me, not to mention that I dropped 8 lbs in about three days. I think I need to think of it as a blessing, and work at not allowing myself to become so run down that I catch everything this year. 

Dec 24, 2014

Wish For The World

Cathedral Candles in Lyon by Finijo

I was up early this morning - 5 AM to be exact. I awoke and couldn't get back to sleep. I started my list of things to do, since I am off today for Christmas Eve. Four hours later, I have not really done anything on the list, except make coffee. It is my first cup of coffee in about a week, because I have been down with strep throat and had to go to milk-less tea for to avoid the phlegm factor. I guess I am ending the year on a low note, but that means there is no place to go but up for 2015, right?

I would like to think I have some lofty goal for the coming year, but I don't. Healthy and happy would pretty much make the year grand from where I am standing now. Standing is an exaggeration - more like doubled over and coughing up a lung, but I can still laugh at myself, so I guess that about sums up this year. That and my wish for peace. There seems to be a destructive force in the world that is gaining momentum, but I don't think it is much worse than it has been throughout history. In a random bit of reading last night, I read the wiki entry on the French Foreign Legion and found myself surprised by a couple of things. The first is that the French Foreign Legion still exists - who knew? and the second, that France has not been able to avoid war/military conflict for more than a 20 year stretch in the last 200 years. I will get around to looking at the US military history, but I suspect it has been the same for us. This does not bode well for the future, but I guess it also means that the world will likely go on, as it always has...le sigh.

Things I am thinking about in no particular order:

  • Travel blog for cheap, but adventurous middle aged women
  • Violence and destruction in the world today - and always 
  • Yoga and stretching
  • Sustainable gardening
  • Retirement
  • Aimee Mann
  • Chinese foot massage
  • Panettone
  • Impermanence 
  • Wanderlust
Happy holidays - be happy and do what enjoy
(and to hell with anyone who tells you to stop). 

Dec 8, 2014


Divebomber by Neil Finn

I listened to this song yesterday, because it fit my mood so well. The song is musically and lyrically haunting, and I love the layered instrumentation and the use of the airplane sounds. Dealing with the pending death of my aunt, this song seemed so fitting, but I was taken completely by surprise when he added the chords and lyrics from Hole in the River at the end of the piece. After two weeks of having a knot in my stomach and my throat, the dam burst and I sobbed. As crying always does, it helped me to feel lighter and it was cathartic. As much as I don't want to do it, and as much as it feels like it will never end when I am in the midst of it, the necessary evil of tears is cleansing. I am sad, but now I can breathe whole breathes again. 

Dec 7, 2014

Final Goodbye

Aunt Marilyn and Andy

The holidays have been a special kind of hell for me since I was a child. Where others see the warm glow of candles and fireplaces set against the crisp cold winter air or sparkling crystal snow banks, I feel the bittersweet memories of loved ones lost and no longer here to make the holidays into the ideal that is shoved down our throats ad nausem while the sacred is made profane for the glory of profit. I haven't been Christian since I was 13 years old, but I haven't lost an understanding of what Christmas, and even Thanksgiving, were supposed to celebrate.

November 24, 1976 my father died. I was 10 years old and this began the struggle with what can be a very emotional time for me. I have grown up and the scars healed over, but Thanksgiving has ever since given me a hollow feeling that I fight to conquer in an effort not to ruin the holiday for everyone else. I have failed many times over the years and each time it amplifies the hollowness I feel. We lost our beloved 92 year old grandmother in October of 2002, just over two months after we lost our eldest sibling, the kind and truly beautiful Linda, from an evil cancer that ate its way through her brain and lungs. Two years ago, our brother David, a generous, albeit incredibly hard man, was destroyed by a variety pack of illnesses on New Year's Eve, adding another layer of melancholy to our holiday cake of sorrow.  

Two and a half hours ago, they removed my Aunt Marilyn's breathing tube and started the morphine drip meant to help ease her into Elysian fields as painlessly as can be done. This final leg of her journey began a very long two weeks ago when she suffered a brain aneurysm in her kitchen and was airlifted to a hospital in a nearby town. Although we prepared to fly out to see her immediately, we were told to wait while the situation was assessed. Anxious and fearful, we started to make plans to fly out to see her again, but were again rebuffed, and we started to question whether we were being told to wait for the reasons given (too many people there already and chaotic atmosphere with everyone in and out of her room all day), or if there was another reason we were not welcome. We changed the date of our tickets to accommodate dates we were told we could be of use, then we were blind-sided by the truth. We were informed that her husband did not want us there and when he was questioned about this directive, he blew up and started yelling. We were told that Mom's presence would "agitate" her semi-conscious sister. The uncle that relayed this message seemed genuinely baffled, but he also expressed that our presence could elicit another similar reaction from my aunt's husband. Ultimately, the reasons we were not welcome are unimportant. The blow delivered with that news was shattering. Mom and I would not be allowed to help in any way (other than to stay away) and if the worst happened, we would not have the chance to say goodbye. In the interim, we received photos of her sitting up in bed with assistance and heard that she was able to respond to some questions and that she knew who she was, but did not understand why she was in the hospital. 

When the news coming to us seemed to portend that she would not survive, we talked of how to deal with the funeral/memorial. It seemed pointless to attend a function meant to comfort the family of the loved one especially when our presence at the critical juncture when we might have had a chance to whisper our love and our goodbyes to her was denied. In the two weeks since this ordeal started, not one call or text was answered by her husband. Any news we have gotten has come from her brother or son. Yesterday, we were told that they would remove life support today and that she could live for a few hours or a few days. We were also told that her husband, "is OK with you coming now." For a brief time we considered going to her side, but with the knowledge that the brain damage had worsened and that her morphine would be increased for her comfort, it seemed pointless to rush two weeks too late to be with to her when she draws her last breath and she is completely unaware of the people around her. 

Times like this make you remember so many things. I remember wanting to attend my cousin's graduations, and being told by my aunt not to come because there were too many people already going. I offered to stay in a hotel, but I was still not welcome. I remember being in the hospital dying from multiple organ failure due to lupus and not having anyone in that part of the family come to see me, in spite of my aunt being an ER nurse for more than 30 years. I remember going to South Carolina when my uncle from another branch of my family died and wanting to see my cousin, who lived/worked only 30 minutes away, but still cancelled plans to pick us up at the airport, then informed us he could not see us any other time during our visit, because he had a party to attend. I was wounded each time, but each time I forgave the slight and carried on as though it had not hurt my heart. I have always accepted that this branch of my family was emotionally stunted and did not care about me as much as I did them. Over the years, I have let them go little by little and now I will let go a little more, because I realize that the man I called uncle had no feeling for me at all and harbored disdain for my mother. At any one of these times, I might have woken to the fact that our family is broken, but I didn't see then that this particular branch is diseased to the point of not being able to function as a family outside of their nuclear unit. It is completely unable to give or receive support in the most difficult times of pain or to share the most wonderful times of joy. At least not with us. 

Going forward, I want to remember my aunt for all of the wonderful talks we had. I will remember her for the incredibly good person she was. I will remember her as the glamorous Auntie Mame that she always saw herself as. I will remember the trips to get our hair done, browsing the jewelry counter and picking out the little gold filigree ring she bought me for my 16th birthday. I will remember her amazing cooking skills, the way she mixed bottles of salad dressing to perfection, baked and filled airy cream puffs and the afternoon we baked peanut butter cookies together. I made some last week and as I pressed the criss-cross pattern into the dough, the memory of that afternoon in her kitchen came flooding back to me. I will remember her in cocktail olives and onions, and when I see a martini glass. She will be in my heart when I see floral sun dresses and Mexican dresses on svelte, stylish women who look like they are enjoying life. When I finally visit Spain, I will think of her there and how much I wish I had gotten the chance to visit her when she lived there. 

I am going to miss you, Aunt Marilyn. You are the only aunt I ever had and you were a great one. I wish we had lived closer, or visited more often. I wish that at the end of your life we had been welcome to come help care for you. The lump in my throat finally burst today and I was able to cry for you, and and for the loss of you. You are in my heart and I will always love you and remember the best of you. 

Jul 19, 2014

Summer Dreaming

Scar Tissue by Finijo

Summer is in full swing and I am working hard against my desire to lie down and put a cold rag on my forehead everyday when I get home from work. I have been drawing again (see above) and hope to keep up the habit, especially since I'm in a show in August (Just Ink 4) and I'm looking forward to it. Time to stoke the fires of creativity and get back to work.

Apr 13, 2014

Paw Prints And A Melancholy Day

 Paw Prints On A Window by Finijo

I spent most of this weekend working on the yard and around the house. I waited all weekend for the promised rain to come, hoping that it would wash away the pollen and some of heaviness I have been feeling this week. The rain did not come as I watched the gray sky through the window, but I did notice little paw prints on the outside of the window that were made by Dov as he played through the glass with Lenore, our obese tuxedo cat. They had such an affection for one another, like litter mates, so it is sad to see her waiting for him to return when in all likelihood he has either been picked up by animal control or been lost to being hit by a car. Foxy, his twitchy doppelganger cousin is decomposing under some shrubbery after being hit two weeks ago. Life is tough for feral cats in the city, but they are in abundance..

Lenore played with him for over a year and we enjoyed their antics, so I don't feel a strong urge to wash his prints away, just yet. So long, Dov.

Mar 16, 2014

Julien Martinez - Doll Maker - Lyon, France

 When I was in Lyon, France in 2011, I visited several museums and saw so many incredible things. Lyon is known for it's food and for being such a historically unique city that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I enjoyed my visit and will always remember an odd little museum,  Musée Miniature et Cinéma on the "Maison des Avocats" at 60, rue Saint Jean.  

 La Fileuse by Julien Martinez - Photo by Finijo

There were many wonders in this museum, including miniatures of all types, but I think I was most drawn to the dolls of Julien Martinez. The face of  La Fileuse is a marvel to me. All of her work is detailed and expressive, but I am awestruck by her weary aged face.

 La Fileuse (full) photo by Finijo

The costuming for her dolls is as detailed as their faces. They seem to come from a fabled land, a steam punkish surreality, where wheels are as common as feet. 

 Marcello by Julien Martinez - Photo by Finijo

Many of the creations of Julien Martinez look as though she brought in Vivienne Westwood to style them. Marcello's hair brings to mind The Cure's Robert Smith or Jack White. Either way, he's a rock star.

 Nérée by Julien Martinez - Photo by Finijo

Nérée is the predecessor to the Greek god, Triton. He is also known as the Old Man of the Sea and you can see the age on his face and the pearls, sponge, and coral that adorn him. There is a full picture of him here

L'écuyère by Julien Martinez - photo by Finijo

L'écuyère, the horsewoman, is bawdy. She wears red and gold bodice hugging dress, revealing her decolletage. Her cheeks are rouged and her nose is rosy red, presumably from the bender she went on with the lion tamer the night before. She also carries a horse whip, which you can see here.

Unknown by Julien Martinez - photo by Finijo

I don't know the name of this one but he looks like a character from a Jules Verne novel had a lovechild with a biker from Mad Max. I will do a follow up post one of these days with more wonders from the Musée Miniature et Cinéma.