Thursday, January 27, 2011

Like the deserts miss the rain

I do not have any pictures of my mother and I together.  She was not fond of having her picture taken and, from the time of my senior year in high school, I was more often than not behind the camera than the one having my picture taken.  I do have a couple large boxes filled with carousels of slides taken from my childhood years but it's a huge job with a handheld viewer and I have not tackled it yet.  Still, there must be some photos of us somewhere because I can recall at least one.  Where is it?

Where is that photo of the two of us standing in the driveway?  She's wearing her tan woolen slacks and her coral cashmere sweater, her pearls hanging from her neck and her brown loafers on her feet.  I'm six or seven years of age and my arms are wrapped around her, my head leaning against her side.  I'm over-posing, as I used to do at that age, so the love captured is really over the top.  Her arm is on my back. We both are smiling.  I have that coral sweater she's wearing, how come I don't have that picture?

Why is it I can only remember this one photo of us?  How can that be?  For much of my life, my father had a camera in his hand as often as I do today.  I have photos of her and I know there were so many taken but what I am missing is pictures of us, just us.

My earliest memory though is a photo in my mind. Black and white, strong edges.  I was a baby and I remember crawling down our hallway towards the livingroom.  She was standing there, ironing, and when she saw me, she smiled at me with such surprise and joy, such love, and she walked to me and scooped me into her arms. I remember how good that felt. When I told her years and years later that I remembered that, she was shocked.  How could you, you were a baby?  And she filled in the story for me.  She was ironing my father's handkerchiefs and she was watching Miss America on the television.  I have no idea how you got out of your crib or opened your door, but there you were, crawling towards me.  When I saw you, I said, Hi honey, and you were so happy, you just squealed with delight.  I always loved the times we talked about that memory, how we would share our perspectives.   

Four years and three cell phones ago, I crawled into bed beside her and snapped our picture.  She didn't know what was going on, what I was doing, but she did look into the camera.  That was the last photo taken of us.  It's not flattering of either one of us, but it's still a record.  I look at it on occasion and I remember the moment, I remember my mother. 

My mother, she was here.  And I was here with her.  We lost her three years ago today.  Three years into a lifetime of missing her and I'm still remembering that first memory, and still wondering where the photos are.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A lot to wrap my mind around, but my heart has been there since Day One

This is a photo of my nephew's hand and that little hand holding his finger is the hand of his daughter. I remember when his hands were that small, that young, that new.  I've seen his hands learn to feed himself, to write his name, to dribble a basketball.  I've seen them clapping in joy, and folded in prayer.  I've watched him use those hands to open doors, hold on tight, deliver me a rose, and build a boat with his Grandfather. 

Now, he's a father and the other day, I watched his hands bathe his baby girl.

When I look at this photo, it's hard to believe that the little hand clinging to his finger is that of his daughter.  When I look at this photo, I see time.  And love. So very much love.


Friday, January 21, 2011

One more

A warm bundle of precious!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Miss Moo

Have I mentioned that I'm in love?  This little one and I spent a lot of time together this weekend, just us two.  We traveled through her hunger and sweet feedings where she is almost holding her bottle, through her many diapers, and through so many or her facial expressions, from drunken sailor to sweet angel.  She cooed and I sighed, she smiled and I smiled too, she squeeked and I laughed.  She slumbered and I watched over her and imagined myself standing at the helm of our life together, looking out over the horizon, making sure that this sweet angel was safe and warm and tucked in beneath my protective wings.  And when I was sure, I gently combed her wispy hair and kissed her slumbering cheeks.  Then I kissed her again.

I love my Moo.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Breaking News!

Although this is the warmest of the cold mornings we've seen this week, Cheyenne chose this morning to jump from the couch, walk to her bed by the fireplace and curl up there.  As if she hasn't avoided fires in the fireplace her entire life.  As if she didn't almost catch her tail on fire last week. As if that bed wasn't placed there by me not because I knew she'd love the spot but because I didn't know where else to put it.

Of course I grabbed my camera to record this momentous event.


But then I told her what a good girl she was, What a GOOD GIRL YOU ARE, and stood up for a better photo angle and I guess that was sort of like pointing out to a child riding her bike alone for the first time, Oh my gosh, you're doing it, YOU'RE DOING IT, and your excitement completely derails her efforts and she wipes out.  That wipe out?  That's your fault, because you just HAD to bring it to her attention, didn't you?  I think the crazed look in Cheyenne's eyes in the next photo illustrates my point.


After that, she stood up and left her warm spot by the fire for a cold spot on the wood floor. Perhaps because she quickly learned that when she's resting on the cold floor her mom doesn't act like a nut job by grabbing the camera and telling her what a good girl she is for doing... nothing. But I can honestly say that I have finally experienced the cold winter morning Labrador resting by the fireplace Orvis catalog moment.

And it was lovely!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Something new

Five days into 2011 I began searching my mind and heart for a word I wanted to use for my personal theme for the year, a word I wanted to focus on for the year.  One of my characteristics is definitely optimism.  I believe in the silver lining, hard-won lessons, and finding the positive even when it's the smallest fragment in the darkness.  I do believe that good ultimately predominates over evil.  So, I chose Optimism in 2011.  You see it up there in my new masthead and you'll see it there in a different monthly image that I believe represents optimism.

I chose the word because I want to be reminded every day that I have a choice how I look at the world.  Optimism is not hope, optimism is action.  It is action in thought, belief, attitude, behavior.  Optimism is a forward-moving word that is rooted in the heart and branches out through the mind.  Optimism is my approach in 2011.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I admit that Houston isn't experiencing the frigid winter that much of the country is facing today but it's still cold here, 28 degrees of cold.  This morning when I let Cheyenne out to do her business, she bounded down the stairs as usual but took a slip and fall when she hit the third and fourth stairs down.  Because they had ICE on them!

Bless her heart, she was so surprised when she lost control, all four of her brown legs scrambling every which way and all she wanted was just to get to solid ground. When she did so, she just stood there, afraid to move.  Of course I jumped down there to console her and, when she was ready to come back inside, help her back up the treacherous path.

But my sympathy didn't stop there, oh no.  When we went out again later, because I like to bundle up and read the paper on the front porch, I made sure she experienced the utmost security and comfort while out in this cold winter morning.


Oh yes I did.

Monday, January 10, 2011

For the dogs

As excited as Cheyenne was to be going somewhere, her weekend at the cabin was much like mine.  A lot of relaxing and not very much activity.  Which was perfect.



Her friend Abby, who normally is non-stop about the ball, the Ball, THE BALL, shocked the heck out of me with only one ball-tossing session demanded.  The rest of the time, she was happy with the furry bone I pulled out of the closet.


This last photo from the weekend is one of my favorite because it is typical Cheyenne.  If she were a kid, she'd be the kid who always screamed SHOTGUN! whenever you were heading to the car.


Friday, January 07, 2011

The hazards of being my model

I tried to get Cheyenne to pose by the fire but that didn't go very well because she is cautious of the fireplace.  To further complicate things, when I was asking her to sit and she was preferring not to, her tail slipped through the screen and while it didn't get burned, my completely freaked-out reaction likely forever secured her misgivings of the fire in the wall.

We're heading to the cabin this weekend and I'm sure that the expanse of grass and trees and scents to explore will more than make up for the craziness of this morning's photo session.


Have a great weekend, and avoid the hazards.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The big two for 2011


This picture is where the bike path on my street splits for a couple blocks.  I shot the photo this morning while walking Cheyenne because it reminded me of what we face every single day:  decisions.  This way or that way?  Yes or No?  Maybe? Further, it reminded me of where those decisions lead us.  Are they good decisions, will we benefit from them or at least do no harm with them?  Thankfully, many of our daily decisions are automatic.  I know, for instance, the right-left-right drive to the grocery store.  I know to stop at the stop sign.  I suppose I could made a decision to not do so, but that's a risk I don't want to take and a law I don't want to break.  I don't really think these decisions, they are simply choices I make automatically.

Sometimes though, I do not think through my choice options before making larger decisions, ones that will affect my life in the short and/or long term, ones I need to take time to before making.  This stems from something so very close to my core that it's hard to separate from who I am.  I do not like to say No.  If you need something from me, I'm going to try my hardest to give it to you.  It barely passes through my mind; instead, I go immediately into action mode, of how I can deliver what it is you need.  Sometimes I do this even when I cannot or I should not, even when it will hurt me in the long run. 

What I've learned about this behavior is beyond the basic of not giving what you don't have.  What I've learned is that I cannot do or give or answer or provide in any way that is going to be harmful to me.  I simply cannot.  Well, I can, but I'm asking myself in this new year to not.  I'm asking myself this new year, to learn to say No when that answer is the one that is the better decision.

My other resolution for this year?  It is to stop a selfish and very dangerous habit I have developed over the past couple of years, which is texting while driving.  Yes, I have done that and I admit I have done that often and on many roads at many speeds of traveling on those roads. Nothing has been so important that I have needed to risk your life or mine.  Nothing.  And so I have stopped.  This resolution was an easy and obvious one, if not long overdue.  I'm thankful that I made this decision on my own, before it was made for me through regret.

Two resolutions for the new year, two decisions that I believe are good ones, are ones that put me on the correct path in my life.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Starting it off right

On New Year's Day, I went to my friend Jessie's house for a visit.  I've written about Jessie before, she who has held me since I was a baby, she who has changed my diapers, walked me to school, taught me how to watch the trees for a sign of rain, and taught me countless lessons in love.  Time is turning on us, these days I take care of Jessie, tend to many of her needs.  And it's a joy to be able to do so for her.  She hasn't been feeling well lately, her body weakening to the time and years of hard work, but she's still a fount of positive thoughts and love.  And laughter.  We sat outside in the sunshine on Saturday, enjoying each other's company and the warmth on our skin. Yesterday, she called me and said that she just wanted to talk to her favorite person in the world and tell me she loves me.

I've been smiling ever since.