Saturday, December 17, 2011

Let's Call It A Year

words by Kimberly Mackowski, music by Beth Sablay

Maybe it’s just me, but when the ball dropped and 2011 arrived, I bid 2010 a very hearty farewell.  2010 had been a very difficult year, particularly with the loss of my mother.  I missed her dearly, and miss her every day.  But, somehow, I felt that beginning a new year might change things. A fresh start. Yes, I would still miss her, but we were moving forward. My sisters, my family, had weathered the storm, and we were all still here, forging new memories and remembering old ones.

Somehow, though, 2011 didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. It was difficult in other ways. And I know many who were challenged this year. Who suffered loss, difficult changes, heartbreak, loneliness. Who said goodbye to loved ones far too soon. And it seems, every day, we hear of some tragedy taking place.  People losing their jobs, their homes, their health. Sometimes it seems as if the entire world is set to self-destruct.

And then the holidays circle around again. First, it seems as if it starts too early. Stores put up Christmas displays in October. Christmas music starts playing before Thanksgiving. We grouse. Complain about the commercialism, while we rush around shopping for gifts, and writing out Christmas cards. But there is something about the season, even with all the commercial trappings, that makes it different from the rest of the year.  It’s as if we’re trying to conjure up all the generosity and kindness we fell short of in the past eleven months. The clock is ticking and we’ve got to fit as much in as possible before the year ends.

And what’s wrong with that? Really. What’s wrong with being a little kinder? Offering a hand to someone in need? Sharing a smile, a happy greeting, being just a little nicer to those we love, and those we meet along the way. I only wish it would last longer. The cheer and forgiveness, the gestures of kindness, letting those we love know just how much we do love them.

When 2012 exits, I will not be sorry to see it go. And yet, each day of December, I’m aware that the holiday season surrounds me and I long for a moment to just be still and enjoy it. To take in the beauty of a twinkling Christmas tree, be with the ones I love, and to listen to the music of the season.

The songs say it all. All we have to do is listen.

Wishing you the happiest of holidays. And blessings of love and hope for the coming year.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

I can't make you love me

First off, I apologize. It's been a long time since I've written a true post. I've wanted to, but other things take priority.  And, really, who wants to hear what I have to say. Especially in the middle of the night.

I've been working on my Etsy site, posting new items, doing a little surfing, and thinking, and reading.
I hit "play" on the laptop of  Bon Iver's cover of Bonnie Raitt's "I can't make you love me" - and it just breaks my heart.  There's just something so beautiful in the sound of his voice. So unexpected.

I had heard of Bon Iver, but never really gave them an honest listen. This cover got me to sit up and pay attention.  Check out the video on youtube.  I dare you not to be moved.

What better time to cry than in the middle of the night? It's quiet. Who are you going to talk to? Just hit repeat on the one track that lets the tears flow right now and get on with it.

Why am I sad?  Everything. Nothing. This and that.
I miss my mother. Some days I get wrapped up in fear and anxiety.
Some days I can't remember what I forgot to remember to forget.
Some days the hormones win.

What I do know is that I'm probably not really alone. Somewhere out there, in the dark of night, down the block, or half the world away, someone else is hitting repeat on "I can't make you love me", and they are letting the tears fall.

Things are often clearer after the rain...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Widget loves Texter....Parakeet Love

A sweet little video of  Widget preening her love, Texter.  Then Texter returning the gesture in kind. It's the subtle little moments inbetween that really speak of love. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Finding Sorrow a Home

You wanted your ashes scattered
Over a river far away
We crossed the miles
We took you there
We honored your wishes
Set the dust of your body and soul free
Felt it fall through our fingers
And into the water
Watched it float away

But now, where do we go
Where is our touchstone
How do we find you
To grieve, to cry,
To wonder aloud in a quiet place
Where you are and how you are

Where do we go
To express the depths of our pain
Or share the details of our lives
Where do we go to find you
When we have no place on solid ground
No grave, no marker
No place to give our sorrow a home

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Birdies Go To Bed

The nightly ritual of tucking the birdies into bed. It begins with Tori, and then, one by one, I either tuck them in, or they fly or climb in themselves.

I captured it one night. Enjoy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Birds at Play

Lots of blog post ideas floating around in my head, but not the right time to sit down and compose.
Hope you'll enjoy this instead.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Browser takes a bath.wmv

Budgie, Browser, does love his bath. This time he decided to take a bath in a large
water dish. He does fit in quite perfectly. No one else is allowed. As Texter found out.
All was well, wet, and clean...

Friday, May 20, 2011

New Bags Available in my Etsy Shop.

I've just added 4 new bags to my growing line of hand crocheted and felted bags. Please visit and tell me what you think. Thank you!


Monday, May 16, 2011

Splishin' and Splashin'

The budgies love to take a bath. Some more than others. Texter, for example, is always clean, snow-white, and what I would call dapper.  And handsome, of course.

The bath is always available for them, but for some reason, one of their favorite times to use it is when I'm  carrying it. One hops on, then another, and before you know it, the old swimmin' hole gets pretty crowded.  And I get pretty wet, too.

So, here's an example of birdie bathtime fun.  Enjoy (I always do).


Sunday, May 8, 2011

As my Mother used to say...

I was reading through your 70th birthday book, Mom.  So many pictures and letters from loved ones with accolades and anecdotes about you.  Laughter a common theme.  It seems that everyone who knew you had a funny story to tell.  You always had a great sense of humor, and an infectious laugh. I used to love when you would laugh so hard that when you'd breathe in there would be a snort.  It meant you were having a good time.  I'm proud to say I've inherited that snort.

You used to tell a story about singing me to sleep.  You said  I was barely a year old and you were singing me to sleep and I told you that you didn't have to sing - "It's okay, Mommy. I'll go to sleep." Apparently I didn't like your singing.  Turns out you never could carry a tune.  Oh, the times we tried to teach you. But your voice just didn't work that way.  You humored us anyway.

Even as kids we would torment you for a laugh. Back in the day, when there were rotary phones attached to a cord attached to a wall, you would talk on the phone and we would hover asking "who is it?", "what do they want?", "who's going?", "who's in trouble?". Umm, we were once you got off the phone.  You would give us the stink eye, and then rattle a fist at us.  Or you'd ask for your cigarettes, motioning to us what you wanted, we'd get them, and hold them just out of your reach.  There's that stink eye again.  Oh, man, we had some fun, didn't we?

Remember the time there was an FBI drug bust next door?  I'll never forget that day.  A lot of the neighborhood kids were hanging out at our house that summer afternoon. I walked into the kitchen to see you headed out the back porch door.  I followed.  You proceeded to ask the two men, in suits, with guns, poised to break down the neighbors back door, "What the hell are you doing?!"  They motioned to you to be quiet, showed you their FBI badges, and the next thing I knew we were back inside with the doors closed and you yelling "Everybody get down on the floor!"  After that there was an awful lot of hoopla next door. Glass shattering, people yelling, guns firing. Then we all ran out the front door to watch the scene unfold as the drug dealer next door took off running from the feds.  I remembering you saying you'd like to get on the minibike we had in back and go after that guy.  You didn't do it, but the image of it, ah, damn funny.

I was thinking the other day of the different phrases and retorts you often used:

"Let's go, so we can get back."  I use this one all the time, only I preface it with "Well, as my mother used to say...".

Me (or any one of us):  "Mom, where are you going?"
You:  "I'm going crazy. Wanna come along?"

"Ooh, gotta go, potty, potty, potty, potty, potty!"  This is usually accompanied by half bent over, cross-kneed walking.  To this day, Mom, and probably for the rest of my life, I've adapted this one, too.  Somehow, I'm not only compelled to tell the world that I have to use the bathroom, but I have to make an impression on how urgently I have to use the bathroom, too.

"Oh, ish!"  Obviously, this was used when you thought something was gross in some way.  It's always seemed like a strange word to me.  A bit "ishy", if you will.

"Oh, shit in two!"  I never understood this.  I mean, I get it. But, literally?  Not so much.  And yet, it stays with me.  Though I use my inside voice with this one.

A lot of fun memories. We had some good times, didn't we?  I miss you so, but I'm grateful to have all these memories. To be able to look back through the sadness and longing to the laughter.

You liked to gamble.  But whenever I went along with you, you would shoo me away, telling me that I bring you bad luck.  In Vegas, just you and I, I wandered the casino most of the night while you played the slot machines.  Every time I would wander back you would send me along my way again, lest I ruin your winning streak.  It was all in fun, of course. But you were still pretty serious.  It inspired me to pen a poem about it.


There once was a woman named Carol
Who dreamed of mucho dinero
She liked to play the slots and the lotto
She'd lose, then she'd win a lot, oh!

Don't give her those quarters
Don't give her those nickels
Some Saturday night
She'll end up in a pickle

Don't give her those dollars
Don't give her those dimes
Silver dollars, oh, boy!
She likes how they chime

As they drop in the slot
And the wheels go a-spinning
She can feel it deep down
She'll soon come up winning

She'll play all the day
And far into the night
You'll lose her 'round the corner
Yeah, she puts up a fight

But sooner or later
Probably later, I say
She'll come stumbling out
Somewhere about the break of day

With a hand full of dollars
Or a hand full of nothing
Her fingers all dirty
From her lottery lovin'

You might as well let her
She don't kill or steal
But watch out if you get
In the way of that wheel


This Mother's Day will be the first without you here, Mom.  And, like every day since you died, I'll be missing you.  We will be missing you.  But we'll be remembering, too. And, hopefully, the laughter will drown out the tears.  It is the best medicine, after all.

With lots of love on Mother's Day.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Something really Bugz me today...

There are ants in my bathroom.  At first there was one.  I kind of let it slide. I didn't want to kill it. In recent years I've developed an acceptance of some of the critters that used to really frighten me. A spider in the basement once meant a high-decibel scream for someone else to come along and "take care of it".  After that I'd feel all creepy-crawly, and I'd avoid the basement for days.

I've mellowed a bit.  I can let most spiders slide. After all, they are supposed to eat other bugs, including, eck, centipedes.  So, I've learned to appreciate a spider or two (centipedes, never!).

The past few summers have yielded ants.  The source of entrance pretty obvious, doorways, open windows.  I don't like to use harsh or toxic chemicals in my home, for my safety, the environment, and, of course, my pets safety.  So, I use vinegar.  Spray undiluted vinegar along the doorways, window frames, etc., and it seems to help.

A couple weeks back I noticed an ant crawling in the bathroom while I showered. Like I said, I let it slide. I mentioned it to Joe, who said he hadn't noticed anything.  A day or two later there were a couple more. I talked to them.  I asked "what are you doing in here? You should be outside".  They kind of ignored me. I got a piece of paper, let them crawl on, then took it outside and shook it off.  I have the power to remove it without killing it, so why not?  I know, some would say I'm crazy. But any time I step on a bug I feel instant remorse. If I can put it outside, I do.

Flash forward another few days, more ants.  I mention it to Joe again.  He says he didn't notice. I say to look again, and, well, "take care of it".  I've just hired a hit man to do my dirty work.

Maybe he did take care of it, maybe not.  Couldn't say for sure, since now there are at least a dozen ants in the bathroom and a few are making their way into the rest of the house.  I shift into hit-man mode myself and get the fly swatter.  I find as many as I can.  Then I rinse them down the drain, sweep them up, and mop the floors. I also spray full-strength vinegar in the window frame in the bathroom where I think they're coming in. Take that!

I don't feel quite as guilty this time.

My Etsy Shop is Open!

Here are just a few of the items I just added to my new Etsy Shop "Parakeet Girl".  I want to thank family and friends for the encouragement.  I'm very excited to put my creations out there for the world to see, and to purchase, if the case may be.  I will be adding new items soon, as well.

Stop in and visit my shop. And, if you have time, persuse all that Etsy shops have to offer. There's so many creative people out there.  Such beautiful things to covet. :)


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Where is Widget?

So, Google was happily playing atop some of the wooden CD birdhouses. They are multi-purpose - the birds can chew on them because they are untreated wood, and they hold CD's. Nothing in my office, it seems, is off-limits to the birds. Google recently chewed through my computer monitor cable. He has this thing about power cords. I've lost several sets of cheap headphones to this guy.  I don't know what it is about these types of cords, but to Google they are irresistable.  We've been through two different telephone sets. We finally found a better place for the unit where he can't get at them.  He's clever, you see, and somehow finds a way. Dedicated little stinker.  Even more scary is the fact that he could be seriously hurt. So, we are constantly troubleshooting and finding ways to keep dangerous objects from him.  Toys?  He'd rather chew my latest paperback, magazine, or headphone cord.  The magazines, eh, I recycle them anyway. The books, well, I try my best to put them away, but I pay the price if I forget.  Good thing I buy most of my books used on Amazon.

Anyway, I digress.  Google was playing atop one of the wooden CD birdhouses, cheerfully singing along, when he noticed that Widget was on the windowsill behind the curtain.  One of Widget's favorite places to play. So, for several minutes Google kept peeking behind the curtain and chatting to Widget.  Not a lot goes on here, but it's cute just the same.

And to think, just last week Widget was chasing Google and he was having none of it.

Never a dull moment with the flock...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Three O'clock in the Morning...

That's right, here I am, 3 o'clock in the morning, and I can't sleep.  The past few days I've been sick with a terrible cold and all I could do was sleep. Now I can't seem to quell the thoughts roaming in and out of my brain. Unable to lull myself to sleep. Might as well just get up and work it out somehow. Then, maybe...

I'm feeling sad. Missing loved ones gone. Today, in particular, I'm missing Pumpkin. One of our precious parakeets.  He left us early last fall, just a week after my dear mother passed away. Two losses in tandem. Something strange about it all.  I felt so guilty. I missed the signs with Pumpkin. Didn't realize he was ill until it was too late. Though the doc says there probably wasn't much they could have done for him. Still, I feel so guilty.  But my mother was so ill and we were taking care of her, sitting by her side. Watching her fade from this earth.  When we put together the photo displays for my mom's service there was a photo of my mom kissing Pumpkin.  A sweet photo. She loved the birds. Loved my stories about them. Her mother had parakeets all the while my mother grew up, and they brought back fond memories for her.  But after she passed away, and we put that photo on the board I discovered the Pumpkin was, indeed, ill.  My sister asked me if we should take the photo down.  I said no.  And yet, a week later, Pumpkin passed away in my arms.

No more will I hear his happy singing. No longer would I see him happily close his eyes and listen to his best friend, Tori, sing to him.  Whenever I tucked them in at night I would give him lots of kisses. Not many of the birds let me do this, but Pumpkin did.  I'd kiss his belly several times. Take in a big whiff of him. His favorite seeds were anise seeds, and he always smelled of licorice. Ah, Pumpkin. I would bury my nose in his feathers and just breathe him in.  I try not to dwell on it, but I miss him.

If only we didn't have to lose the ones we love. I miss my mother every day. Think of her all the time. Think of my father nearly as often. I wish for a sign somehow. A way to know that they are okay, and that they miss us as we miss them. 

These past few days while I've been sick with this cold I've slept a lot. Yesterday, I napped in the afternoon. Couldn't seem to stay awake, though I tried to.  Google, my little angel of a cockatiel, kept watch over me. He doesn't like to be far from me. So I brought his playgym, food and water with us into the bedroom, and he hung out while I napped. From time to time I would awake to see him sitting patiently on my pillow, just watching me.  Ah, the guilt. But, also, how touching. Who would think such a creature could be so sweet and kind and loyal? 

While I napped I dreamed of more birds. That there were more birds in more cages in different rooms in the house. Though it wasn't our house but some dream world house with flowing doorways, and bright windows, and my parents and my sisters in tow.  I somehow knew that I was dreaming and kept trying to wake, but could not.  Then, I felt someone sitting on my bed. Felt them sitting down, then getting up. Then sitting again.

Mom?  Is that you?  No one there. Not that I could see.  But, was it?  Please let it be so.

And, tonight, as I lay in bed, sleep just wouldn't come. But the thoughts did come. Sad thoughts. Regret. Anxiousness and worry. About the past, about the future. Dread at the thought of losing anyone else. Then the rationale that with love comes loss, no matter who you are or what kind of life you lead, or how long you live.  And being brave enough to love, even though, at some point, you may lose that love somehow, will prove to be worth it. For, what is a life worth if there is no love in it somewhere? No matter how small, or how simple.  So, I tried to turn the tide of my thoughts from worry to gratitude. And, truly, that is no small feat when you are in the midst of a worry-tide.

But, worry be damned, I do have blessings in my life. So much to be grateful for. A husband who loves me, and tells me so every day. Sisters I love, and who love me, though we are all so different (and yet, often quite the same). Nephews, nieces, and a great-niece due just about any day.  I have wonderful friends and other relatives who have come back into our lives from a distance. In-laws who are kind and sweet and welcome me into their lives.  My beautiful birdies who bring me joy and song every day. I have memories of those that have gone, and pictures and music to remember them by.  I am blessed. Truly.

But, I'm afraid, it's not that easy. Since I was a small child I can recall lying in bed at night overwhelmed with worry. It was as if I was born worrying. I worried about my sisters. What would happen to them if we had to go to separate schools? What if they were hurt? If someone was mean to them?  What about my parents? What if something happened to them? What would happen to us, then?  I knew nearly nothing of the world yet, and there I was, spending half my night fretting about what was to come. How could that be? Maybe we really are born with those traits. Maybe I had instincts I wasn't aware of yet. Who knows.

So, I will lay in bed tonight, and in many nights to come, and I will pray. Because it's the best I can do. Pray for those that I love. For those that they love, and on, and on, and on. Eventually, I just pray for God to look after the entire world. Gee, I don't ask for much, do I?

I could try counting sheep, but then I'd start worrying about the sheep, and then the cows, and the chickens, and, well, you get the picture. I've got enough on my mind.

Sweet dreams...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chasing Google

Little Widget. She's a doll. Precocious, too.  She's taken to racing the other birds around the room. One of her favorite places to roost is on the windowsill. Browser, whose flying skills are quite improved, now likes to join her there. Another pastime of Widgets: chasing Google.  Herewith, a video of such an occasion.  Google doesn't seem to enjoy it so much. However, the other day he was playing peek-a-boo with Widget while she was on the windowsill.  He kept peeking behind the curtain to see her and talk to her. A video of that is forthcoming. For now, Chasing Google...


Saturday, April 9, 2011

If I Were a Bluebird...

 Funny how music can evoke the essence of someone. Today, while doing some cleaning, I was going through a pile of CD's, and came across a CD compilation I put together for my father many years ago. It was the fall of 2003, in fact, and he was losing the battle against cirrhosis of the liver. His had given out and there wasn't a thing they could do.

He and I had been estranged for several years , and it was strange to think that this was really happening, and without time for us to truly reconcile. He lived 10 hours away, and the disease was progressing way too fast. My older sister, Cheryl, was staying with him at the time, so I put together a care package for them, and included the CD.

The one connection we always shared was music. Even at the worst of times between us, we might still be able to connect by sharing an album or a song. When I put this CD together I considered deeply what songs he would enjoy in one way or another. Some were nostalgic, and some just spoke to his likes and the situation at hand. An homage to memories of moments past, a tribute to the one major bridge between us.

So, when I found the CD today, I had to play it. It brought to mind the way I felt at the time I made it, the tears that were shed as I assembled the tracks, imagining my dad listening to it, and what he would think of each song. It was, in a way, a long distance I love you.

Many of the tunes conjure images of days at the cabin on White Ash Lake. We spent many weekends there growing up, and I can remember fishing from the rowboat with my dad. Or fishing off the dock, reeling in sunfish and perch. The sun on the water, the breeze through the trees, the laughter of children, the grown-ups playing horse shoes and telling stories. Sometimes there would even be music - my aunts playing ukelele and accordion, everyone singing along to songs like "You are my sunshine". Bright days...

I recall sleeping on the cabin porch, my parents in the bed across the way. The air so fresh. The night sky laden with stars. And, then, the sound of the birds early in the morning, the chill at the first light of day. I listened to the adults talk over coffee and eggs in the morning, my mom and my grandmother catching up on grown-up things.

A few of the selections on the disc stand out to me...
"Bluebird", by Emmylou Harris, brings to mind the many miles my father traveled for work. He drove a great deal of the time, listening to music on his radio, then 8-track, then cassette player, over miles and miles. He acquired a vast collection over the years, and I would often "borrow" an album or two. I would, in turn, make him a tape from time to time, something new for him to listen to.

One of those tapes was of Jennifer Warnes singing the songs of Leonard Cohen - "Famous Blue Raincoat". He loved it. To this day it's still one of my favorite albums, and every time I listen to it I am reminded of my father.

Tom Waits' "Picture in a frame" - Tom's gruff voice, beautiful words and melody, illustrates how I imagine my father's love for my mother to be. When it was young and innocent. Raw and new. Such a beautiful song. I hope he liked it. Saw himself in it the way I saw him.

"Song of Bernadette" by Jennifer Warnes - this one always brings me to the brink of tears. Such emotion, beautifully sung, the strings, Jennifer's golden voice. I know my father loved this song, and I always will. "Every now and then, we try/to mend the damage that we've done/Tonight/Tonight/I just can't rest/I've got this joy here inside my breast/to think that I did not forget/that child/that song of Bernadette".

Amazing bridge, music. Like magic. The sounds and flavors and interpretations infinite - unlike our time here on this planet. My father used to say that Hell was a place where there was no music. I'm inclined to agree.

Forever Changed

APRIL 7, 2010 -- The change had already begun. But this was the day when it truly became real.  The day the surgeon came to us, and with a simple gesture, confirmed that our lives would never be the same.

He used both hands to illustrate the size of the enemy. The demon that had taken up residence, and that they tried to evict. Cancer was the unwelcome guest, and my mother its unwitting host. 

That day we learned there was no going back. No way around this traffic jam. No detour. We were stuck. Worst of all, Mom was stuck.  Our lives, and, more importantly, her life, were altered forever.  She was in a war with the devil called cancer, and we were going to have to guide her through the trenches as best we could.

For years we would talk with her about her health challenges, and she refused to deal with them.  Aside from a nasty cold or bronchitis, she wouldn't charge into a doctor's office seeking help.  When we tried to convince her that she could be more comfortable, have less pain, discomfort, breathe easier with the right doctors and the right care, she would simply tell us "I'm 70!", as if that age marker meant it's all over - 70 - the end.

As it was, we were too late. The doctor's tried. She tried. We all joined in the fight. But there was no way out, and the demon, cancer, won.  And yet, she was so brave and calm, and accepting. She walked through it all with such grace. Forever changed. And now, forever gone.

Our lives are different now. Her absence always with us. Yes, her memories always with us, too. But there is no doubt about it. Nothing will ever be the same.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

New Creations

Here it is, my latest creation. The "Harvest" messenger bag. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I used a lot of Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool yarn for this one. I love how it felted. Nice and tight. Everything has a nice muted, earthy tone. Most of the yarn I purchased at the River Boutique and Yarn shop in Brookfield. The button was purchased there, too. I've included photos of the bag from the front (above), and the back (below). This next photo is of one of the first bags I felted. I started with a chocolate brown wool sweater. I disassembled it, cut the front and back panels and crocheted them together. Then I crocheted onto the piece with other yarns, and then added crocheted pocket pieces, too. This bag is nice and deep and can be worn crossed over your body very comfortably. I'd be hard-pressed to give this one up...

I have more in the works, but posting pictures of my progress helps to keep me motivated.

What do you look for in a handbag?


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Taking the Leap

Yesterday I was out running some errands. Coffee (very important), food (again, important), post office (necessary), Goodwill (just for fun). I found a cool bread box at Goodwill for $4. How cool is that?! It has a roll-top drawer. I've always kind of thought it would be good to have one. Tidy up the clutter on the kitchen counter - half-eaten loaves of bread, rolls, slightly empty bags of chocolate, and so on. So, I took my nifty find and got in line to purchase it.

In front of me was a woman with a cart containing an interesting collection of items. Small shelving units, bits and pieces of crafty kinds of things. She gave me a big smile. Then she went to her register and I to mine. But afterward she stopped me to ask where I got my handbag and scarf. I told her that I made them. She asked if I sold them anywhere and I told her that I planned to, but haven't placed them anywhere yet. She was so excited. So pleasant. We talked for a bit standing near the exit.

Turns out she's an artist and makes jewelry and other things. She's back to school part-time studying art therapy. We talked a little bit about the jewelry she was wearing. About my bags, how they are made. Where I might sell them. She wanted to know how much they were so she could start saving up to buy one. And, she asked for my card. Well, I don't have any cards, but I gave her my number and email. And we agreed to reconnect.

I left the store on cloud nine. Someone, a complete stranger, wanted to purchase something I made. I sold some crochet-embellished gloves at Christmastime, but this was different. I was so excited, I called my sister, Cheryl, to share the news. Then I drove to the shop where I buy a lot of my yarn and showed them the bag, and told them my story. Asked their expertise on pricing. I've been talking with them about teaching a felted bag class, and that discussion was reborn. Perhaps in April.

Anyway, I'm a dreamer. I'm an idea person. But I have a hard time following through on things. Afraid of failure, I suppose. Not atypical. But I'm at that age where if you don't follow some of your dreams where will you be? Where will you have been someday?

So, I'm gathering some of my finished items. I'll put finishing touches on some not-quite-finished items, and get this ball rolling. Today I ordered business cards. So, next time, I'll be ready.

And if it doesn't work out? Oh, you can bet I'll be sad and disappointed. But I'll have lots of presents ready to go come next Christmas. And that wouldn't be so bad either.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

At first I couldn't sleep. Now, it's all I want to do...

Six months. Goes by in a blink. So hard to believe, but she's been gone six months. Oh, how I miss you, Mom. I think of you all the time. And when I'm not thinking of you, something, the smallest thing, brings you back to my mind.

I have been prone to bouts of insomnia during times of stress. All summer long, while you were sick I had trouble sleeping. I tried relaxation, ambien, wine, walks, music. My brain wouldn't shut off, and when it finally did and I started to fall asleep my legs took over and walked miles all night.

I remember the day it changed. Your life was coming to an abrupt end. We had no idea it was going to happen so fast. You never wanted to talk about wills, or power of attorney--things like that. But now we were running out of time. I went to your house and we talked a bit about it again, and decided that I would print everything out for you to read and sign. Then I had to find witnesses to sign the papers. I remembered the name of one of the pastors at the church you and Laura attended and looked him up. Called him. He was so kind and willing to help. He and his wife came by so quickly. I brought out the papers and read them out loud to both you and the pastor and his wife. After reading the will you looked at me and you said "Very Good". One of the last coherent things I ever heard you say.

Then the pastor sat with you and read from scripture. It's not my thing, I'm afraid I couldn't tell you which bit he read. But he read it to you, and then prayed with you. He told you that you would be going to heaven, and you said you"hoped so". He said he "knew so". That's when every fiber in my being calmed. Something went click and I knew that I would actually be able to sleep that night. It was a long day and night. I didn't get home until after midnight. But I did sleep.

I went to work the next morning and by early afternoon the call came from Cheryl telling me that you were truly dying and that there wasn't much time left. I left work and went straight to Oostburg. There were no more conversations to be had. It was true. You were leaving.

And then you were gone.

Afterward I did have trouble sleeping from time to time. But once I slept it was all I wanted to do. It's all I want to do now. I've been a night owl my whole life. I like to sleep in. But it's different now. Sundays are the worst. I tell Joe, when he comes into the bedroom to see me sleeping still, "give me a reason", "what's my motivation to get up and join the world today?". Eventually, I do get up. I do what is necessary, and that's about it. Hey, the vacuuming is done, the bed is made. Whoop-dee-doo.

I'm trying. I really am. I feel ashamed. Other people, normal people, get up early. They get things done. By the time I get going (unless it's a work day) it's already noon. As if I don't already have enough guilt in my life, there's this. I know that I'll stay up late. I'll do some chores, take care of the birds, surf a little web, watch something on Netflix, crochet. But I'm missing the flame, the flicker, the gusto. Maybe it's just winter blues, maybe the spring will make it better. I hope so. In the meantime, I'm in a walking coma.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Everyone is there but Google

He was probably hanging out with me in another room when Joe snapped this photo of all 8 budgies just hanging out. The two newest inside the cage bottom right are "Widget" and "Browser". They are adapting nicely. Hanging out with the rest of the gang, chattering away, and allowing me to help them when they flutter to the floor as they get used to flying around the room.

So, we have 9 birds now. My nephew, Nathan, visited on Tuesday. When I explained that we have 9, he said that we should really get 1 more so that we have 10. "Mmmm," I said, "we'll see." I don't really think we'll be adding another for some time. But, famous last words...

I was going to log on and blog about the chaos and emotions and uncertainty of my life as of late, but it's late, and I'm tired, and all cried out. So, tonight it will just be a brief introduction to the latest version of the flock, and a wish to all for better days.

So bundle up, friends. It's cold out there. Valentine's Day is soon to arrive. Are you prepared, or are you feeling all "so what" about it like me? I actually like valentine's day. Pretty much always have. Even when I wasn't in a romance. I think it's a great opportunity to let someone in your life know they are special. Man, woman, child. Bird. But this year, I'm not feeling it. Even though I'm grateful for so many people (and creatures) in my life, I'm just not feeling it.

Maybe something will change. Maybe a wash of all gooey V-day sentiment will flow over me.
I'm doubting it. But you never know.

Maybe number 10 will show up and make my day.

Happy Valentine's to all....


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Greatest Fan

There she is. The Packers' greatest fan. I will never witness anything about the Green Bay Packers again without thinking of her. My Mom.

Over the years her loyalty never waivered. She watched every game. She gathered souvenirs and mementos. She screamed and hollared "Go-Go-Go!" from her living room so loud they probably heard it in Green Bay.

She collected memorabilia. She had her photo taken with Chris Jacke. She had a room in her apartment dedicated to "The Pack". In it she hung posters, schedules, photos, a wooden hand-painted Packer on a swing suspended from her ceiling. She collected stamps, and any limited edition ornament, or keychain. She wore Packer jewelry - earrings with the logo outlined in rhinestones, a pin, something that blinked. She wore a Packer jersey and hat on game day, and for Halloween - going as none-other than the ultimate fan - herself.

She new the players. The plays. She knew the rules, and when the rules were broken. She knew a good call from a bad. She loved the game, and the team. Stood by them no matter what.

She reveled in their victories. Cheered loud and strong when they went to the Superbowl, and dreamed of seeing them go again.

This past year she battled colon cancer and lost. Late in the summer we met with the doctor to discuss her prognosis. To discuss what kind of time she had left. In the meeting she told the doctor she wanted enough time to see the Packers play another season. She wanted to see them go to another Superbowl. The doctor told her she might see the Packers play another season, but, well, the Superbowl was another matter. She laughed. He laughed. We all laughed.
It was a strange day.

Little did we know that day that she wouldn't make it to another season at all. Only two weeks later she was fading quickly away. Much faster than any of us would have hoped or anticipated. The day before she died the Packers played a pre-season game against the Colts. They won. Though she lay unconscious in a hospital bed in her living room, the tv set was on, and the game played as we gathered to be with her. When they won we told her so. The next day she died, and the Packers were short one incredible fan. On earth at least.

As the days moved on we cleared out her things. We sorted through her Packer shrine. Some things we shared, some we didn't. But every bit of it spoke to her enthusiasm for the game and for her team.

Throughout the season my sisters and I would comment on how well the team was doing. We would remark that maybe Mom was up there somewhere guiding the Packers to a Superbowl. We would joke that we could almost hear her cheering them on from somewhere in the crowd. That maybe now she was on the sidelines with our Dad, pushing them closer and closer to victory. Sprinkling some kind of magic over the field.

So far it seems to be working. Mom's favorite team is going to the big game. The Superbowl. Just as she'd hoped. Just as millions of other Packers fans hoped. A dream come true.

And yet, I can't help but feel melancholy. Sad that she didn't make it to see it here with the rest of us, on earth. Missing her every day. Thinking of her with every mention of the team, and the big game.

All I can do is hope that wherever she is, she'll be watching. My dad sitting beside her. Both of them cheering and screaming and yelling "Go-Go-Go!". Praying for a win.

I'll be praying, too.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010: What a Stinker

I don't know about you, Dear Reader, but 2010 was like an assault on my olfactories - what a stinker! Not to mention (but I will) the fact that it left a very bitter taste in my mouth, and a permanent wound in my heart and soul. Good riddance, I say. Foreword, ho! 2011, give us your best, why don't ya?

I'm sure time and better days will soften 2010 in my memory. But what's the harm in laying the blame for tough times on something as inocuous as a year? It doesn't point fingers at anyone in particular. Doesn't lay blame on anyone's doorstep. It gives us a common enemy. Connects us in a way that nothing other than, say, the weather can. It's ubiquitous, and yet, it doesn't name names.

Across the globe we're making resolutions for the new year. Eat better, be nicer, work harder or maybe, work less. Travel. Explore our artistic side, or be practical and get organized, be proactive, get healthy, or just stay healthy. I could go on and on...

But I think I'll just keep it simple. I'm going to try to leave the bitter of 2010 behind, but take the goodness of it with me into 2011. There were some very difficult, very sad times in 2010. But there were some warm and wonderful people that made those times bearable. That helped me to laugh, and reason, and hold on.

So, this one last time I'm going to give 2010 the stink-eye. And, now, onward...

Wishing you all a very Happy (and stink-free) New Year!