Thursday, April 25, 2013

I Love You Mostly

I knew better than to think I would miss you less, Jeffrey, and I have spoken it aloud so many times that grief never leaves, that there is no "closure" (oh, that loathsome word which makes us think we will one day be over the heartbreak).  Yet I was still surprised by it today, on your birthday, when it slammed into my chest and I bent in half, then sat down on the floor in my son's bedroom to catch my breath.  I realized then how tangible to me you still feel, as if I could still call you, or meet you for lunch, or kiss or hug you.  My grieving now, years later, is a solitary exercise.  I would be accused of dwelling on your death or refusing to move on if I spoke about it.  I understand that me losing you was not as great a loss as perhaps a brother, a husband, or (my greatest fear) a son, but I never thought I'd have to live without you.  I still don't want to.

One of the things I miss the most are the theme birthday parties you threw for yourself every year.  I realize that a lot of that was about your need to be in control of your own party, but you taught me to do that for myself, too - make my own plans, to make my own birthday special, if that was what I wanted.  How many birthdays had I spent disappointed that the only card I'd received was from my car insurance company?  Now, I make dinner plans and invite my friends and family to a restaurant, and have a wonderful birthday each year.  One year, your party theme was a Viva Las Vegas casino night, and we all dressed up and played card games.  I wore a huge fur coat over a long sequined dress.  Ten years ago, the theme was Honky Tonk, and your guests dressed in western gear.  I took photos with black-and-white film, but I only have three of them, and none are of you.  I must have given you the photos of yourself, and now I wish I hadn't.  You chose 30 of your favorite songs, and an artist friend, Bert Rodriguez, made CDs for everyone to take home.  That CD was the soundtrack for the party and we played it in heavy rotation after that, and my copy eventually stopped playing.  After you died, I asked our former co-workers to send me the one from the office, but that one was ruined, too.  My mom just found her CD, and gave it to me.  I took it home, put it in my laptop, and was just as thrilled as I was devastated when Loretta Lynn started singing.  Ten years seems like a lifetime ago, and it seems like yesterday.  You would have been 49 today.  Happy birthday, my dear friend.  I love you mostly.

Honky Tonk Princess You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man) - Loretta Lynn
Lost Highway - Hank Williams
Lovesick Blues - Patsy Cline
Always Late (With Your Kisses) - Lefty Frizzell
Moaning the Blues - Hank Williams
Back In Baby's Arms - Patsy Cline
You're Gonna Change - Hank Williams
I Fall to Pieces - Patsy Cline
My Bucket's Got A Hole In It - Hank Williams
Honky Tonk Girls - Hank Williams III
She's Gone Gone Gone - Lefty Frizzell
Wine Women & Song - Loretta Lynn
I Saw the Light - Hank Williams
Cecil Brown - Hank Williams III
If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time - Lefty Frizzell
Lovin' & Huggin' - Hank Williams III
Give Me More More More (of Your Kisses) - Lefty Frizzell
He Called Me Baby - Patsy Cline
I'm A Long Gone Daddy - Hank Williams
I Love You Mostly - Lefty Frizzell
Walkin' After Midnight - Patsy Cline
Howlin' At the Moon - Hank Williams
Crazy - Patsy Cline
One Horse Town - Hank Williams III
Long Gone Lonesome - Hank Williams
I'm an Old Old Man - Lefty Frizzell
7 Months, 39 Days - Hank Williams III
Dear John - Hank Williams
Fist City - Loretta Lynn
Nighttime Ramblin' Man - Hank Williams III

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Birthday Bellybutton Kitty

I crocheted this kitty for my bellybutton-loving daughter for her 2nd birthday.  Unable to find the perfect cat pattern, I used one I found online for a stuffed puppy, then searched for other patterns for cat ears and a long tail.  If you can crochet rounds, making little stuffed lovies like this one isn't hard, and you probably don't even need a pattern if you can figure out the size of the shapes you want.  After that, it's just a matter of stuffing each form, then sewing them all together with your yarn and a large blunt needle.  For the eyes, I have a jar full of mismatched vintage buttons that my mom sent with me when I left home, and these black flower buttons in different sizes were perfect.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

To Jeffrey, on His Birthday

In spring, the longing becomes a little sharper - I think of you every time I dig my fingers into the earth to bury the roots of a new perennial flower or vine. I don't plant annuals, with their inevitable deaths by frost in autumn, preferring the magic of bright green shooting from the ground each spring, defying the bitter cold and dormancy of these long Michigan winters. You, with your love of palm trees, flowers, and plants, are kneeling next to me in the grass this spring, when I dig a hole for creeping phlox, and find a thatched and fuzzy nest, from which glares a single, angry bumblebee. I imagine you laughing at me when I jump back, startled by how one fat bee sounded like a hive of wasps.

We have your ancient ponytail palm tree from college in our sunroom. There are scars on the trunk from a cat we owned temporarily. All of the fronds fell or were torn off, and we anxiously watered and watched, until it finally started to recover, more than a year later. I can't bear to lose anything that was yours, and my home is full of the things you gave or bartered to me. I saw my own belongings in photos of your last apartment, and that gives me some comfort. The vintage mod-era pendant lamp in my son's space-themed bedroom once hung in your Miami living room above the sofa. The small sunburst convex mirror I always admired is on the wall in our sunroom above my collection of succulent plants in vintage planters, some of them yours. The orange plexiglas Kartell fixture in our kitchen was a gift from you and the sister to the turquoise one you owned. We stood outside the Kartell showroom window, Petunia and Ava on leashes, and we imagined those lights suspended in our little homes.

There is a small Dia de Los Muertos box on a shelf in my kids' playroom that you brought back from Mexico. You tried to talk us into selling our house to move to the Yucatan and buy a hacienda with you. I could have horses, you said, and we'd rent rooms to tourists and drink margaritas and live like queens. Sometimes I can picture us all there, my sun-browned children running around, our dogs, the horses, and the blinding sunlight in the courtyard. Would it have changed everything? Would we all still be there, together, alive? Or would you have left us, mercurial as you were, and still ended up alone, in that apartment in L.A.?

I like to think there are alternate realities, and one of them includes you alive, out there in the world somewhere. Maybe you're in Mexico, mixing a pitcher of your signature margaritas, my daughter on your hip, saturated in color. Or in Indiana, restoring an old mansion, honky-tonk music blaring, and thinking of running for local office. Your dreams were my dreams for you. Now I think maybe you're beside me, telling me to do something that I've dreamed of, telling me not to wait, telling me it's true that life is short, and it is heart-breaking, devastating, and oh-so-sweetly beautiful.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Crochet Striped Sweater Puppy

I was happy to find these photos of the crocheted amigurumi puppy for my nephew, wearing the striped sweater he requested.  Here it is with my camera-loving daughter.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

OakdaleFarm etsy store

I have always had an empty etsy store, and a couple of months ago, I finally managed to list some items for sale.  I sold the two needle felted mushrooms I had available, and have left a needle felted tree stump and some crocheted gourds, pumpkins, and squash. The tree stump has two little red-capped mushrooms and has wool yarn hand felted to the surface for tree bark.  I have completed a needle felted cupcake I still need to list, and I really want to make some more mushrooms; they're fun to create and people like them.

Tree Stump with Mushrooms Needle Felted Wool Woodland Decor Fairy HouseSet of 4 Squash, Gourd, & Pumpkin Crochet Thanksgiving Holiday Play Food Toys

 My sold mushrooms:


Crocheted puppies

I took a crochet class around Thanksgiving and learned how to make a hat and went a little insane with it since then, buying books and teaching myself how to make other things and use other stitches.  Here's an amigurumi puppy I made for my son.  My nephew wanted one, too, and he asked for a striped sweater on his. I took a photo of it, but I think it might be on my phone...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

All A Blur....

My son's fifth birthday party was today, and as usual, I can't remember much of what I said to anyone. I probably sounded silly and distracted, and I have a habit of stopping mid-sentence and just sort of trailing off. I used to stay awake at night going over everything I said and cringing, but now I realize that I'm not so important that people are obsessing over what I say...I hope.

I've stayed up too late. Again. I go upstairs to bed, and my husband and son are lying next to each other, in mirror image poses with arms above their heads, which makes me laugh. My husband, still wearing his clothes from the party, and obviously exhausted, doesn't move. My son whispers in his sleep, the only time he's quiet, and moves toward me, laying his head on my hip. As much as it exasperates me during the times I'm busy, I love how my children don't seem to see me as separate from their own bodies, and climb over me, press into me, and rub their lips and faces on my clothing. My son's most precious possession is a black stuffed bear toy made from my favorite sweater that he took from a laundry basket and nuzzled and burrowed into until he put a hole in it. Sometimes, he'll surreptitiously take a shirt I've worn into his room, and I'll find it later in his bed.

Now, at the start of his sixth year, he is balancing his adoration with separation. He sometimes covers his body with his hands, and no longer wants or needs my help in the bathroom. When he cried last week, he told me he wanted to be alone. I look at him, his sweet face asleep, and I sit up, leaning forward to more easily type, and he makes a soft kitten noise, moves with me and presses his cheek against my back, eyes closed and still dreaming. I know it won't last, and it shouldn't, I want him to push away from me and grow and be strong and have adventures and everything else a mother wants for her son, but just for right now, instead of carrying him to his bed, I'm going to hold my son tightly and sleep.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Naked Lunch

I haven't been this excited about doing something in our home in a long time!  After the birth of our daughter last March, renovations have slowed to a crawl.  We have the kitchen mostly completed, but there are the little things that get left until the end and sometimes never get done, especially when you have a husband who really doesn't mind minor things, like mismatched light switches and gaps in the trim.  Five years ago or so, my brother found an amazing set of vintage diner signs for sale on the side of the road and bought them.  I was living in Miami at the time, but I made him promise to save me the other half of the "Lunch" sign; I would find some way to get it, I vowed.  He now has his own sign hanging in his family room; these are like our version of two halves of a "BFF" necklace.

Fast forward a few years, and we're now living in an old farmhouse in Michigan, with the Lunch sign stored in our barn.  My husband claimed he didn't like it, but I suspected that it was more that he was overwhelmed by how we would hang such a large, heavy sign.  In my former life, I worked for an art services company that, among many things, hung artwork for museums, galleries, etc., and one of my favorite tricks is hanging heavy things with a cleat.  You cut a piece of board to fit behind the object, screw it into the studs, then hang your objet d'art from the board.  In this case, we cut a piece of 1x4 oak that we had in the barn, then screwed the sign directly to it through some holes that were already in the sign.  It looks like it was originally lit by roping a strand of lights around each letter with some broken clamps that I removed when I was cleaning the sign.  I love the idea of adding lights back to it someday, and using it as a nightlight for the kitchen.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Fragrance of Peonies

Up until this summer, I have been hesitant to cut flowers to bring into the house.  Part of the reason was that I didn't know how long the blooms would last in a vase, and another part of me felt that flowers should be left outside to grow.  This year, I realized that we have an abundance of flowers, and clipping a few in strategic places to bring in the house lets us enjoy them with more intimacy.  Earlier this summer, I cut some sprigs of lilac and was amazed at how our home filled with the sweet fragrance.  We also had a few hydrangea branches that were almost as short-lived as the lilacs, and pretty, but no scent.  Tonight, I risked being devoured by mosquitoes to cut an armful of peonies before several days of predicted storms, which ruined our peonies last year.  When I first walked into the house with them, I dumped them in our farmhouse sink, and loved the way they looked, spilling over the edge.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Those annoying people who think their kids are so cute...

Yes, I am one of them.  And I can't help laughing every time that my four-year-old son says that he "bomb-ed it" when he means that he "vomited".  Maybe it's just that it's so rare now that he gets something wrong - gone are the days when he pronounced "sandwich" as "flatherch", said apples as "appoos", and called our dog Good Girl, because he thought that was her name.  He used to say that the moon must love him, because it followed him wherever we went.  Once he told me that the crescent moon must be really hungry, because it was so thin now.  It was months later that I made the connection: a full moon and a hungry moon.

Now, he knows the truth about so many things that I wish he didn't.  He tells me things that make me angry and break my heart and make me despair that I am an inadequate parent.  He asks for toys and video games and candy and ice cream and soda and all of those things that I have to remember I longed for, too.  He refuses to wear the expensive clothes and shoes that I buy him, things that my own parents could never afford, claiming that they're too tight or too loose, too long or too short.  He tells me that he wishes I would leave our family, then cries when I go into the bathroom and he thinks I've gone.  He tells me that he is a frog, then a baby cow, then a king, then a dinosaur, and when I find him asleep in his bed, he has wrapped one of my sweaters around himself, the arms of it encircling his tiny body like a phantom hug.