Thursday, May 25, 2017

What's in YOUR Beauty Bag?

This was supposed to get posted on my healthy lifestyle blog and post dental surgery I accidentally posted it here.  So for you pet lovers not into makeup and skine care - as we say at work "move along folks nothing to see here."

My husband has been on the road for work a LOT, and when he's gone I don't really "cook", I just eat bagged salads, smoothies, and pizza which doesn't make for very interesting diet and fitness posts.

But I did update my beauty products based on new finds and a couple friends recommendations.  Today, I'm going to show you three collections and the reasons for them.

(1) This is the stuff I spoil myself with at home.  Makeup wise, I'm pretty minimal, but I like some really nice organic skin care for my at home regiment.

Starting at the upper left - Eminence mineral foundation.  I have super dry skin and this is the FIRST mineral foundation that didn't look like I had talcum powder on my face.  It's great light coverage that looks very natural.

Next to that is my favorite mascara - Benefit Bad Gal Lash. (has over 3200 five star ratings on Sephora).  A simple black mascara with a huge brush - it builds beautiful big lashes.

Below that is my newest find. Rodan + Fields Lash Boost.  A clear serum you apply to the lash line at night - it gives you visibly longer lashes in a month without some of the nasty side effects (such as eye color change) earlier prescription lash products had.  I found that if I used it nightly, my eyes were a little itchy. An R + F rep suggested using it every other night and it worked perfectly.  I can eve skip mascara if I'm in a hurry now my lashes are so long.

On the left Paula's Choice Resist Weightless Body Treatment with 2% BHA with Salicylic Acid and Antioxidants.  As I hit middle age I started getting these itchy bumps on my face and back.  The dermatologist said it's common and they're called keratosis pilaris.  This product zaps them in no time and leaves my skin overall much smoother (I even use it on my face).

To the right of that is my Honey Girl Organics Skin Care,  some full size, one a travel size.  I LOVE Honey Girl - organic, smells wonderful and SO moisturizing and made of such pure ingredients you could eat it. (if you have oily skin try their Super Skin Food Cream). They are also moderately priced given the ingredients and the owner always throws in free travel sized samples. The detoxifying Hawaiian blue-green algae, honey, and French clay mask is incredible.

The light blue tube to the right of them is a new try - First Aid Beauty mineral sunscreen.  I think it might be a little heavy for summer (for which I'll wear my Rodan + Fields Soothe Mineral sunscreen) but it was great during the cold weather and didn't break me out.

Eyes and Lips at the bottom - A Mac and a Fitglow (Canadian organic line) in light and dark pink, and a MAC shadow and highlighter.  To their right is Victoria's Secret pink lipgloss (purchased when I was getting some V.S. Heavenly - one of my favorite inexpensive perfumes).

That's pretty much my products at home. I do use other organic skincare lines - Frangipani Organic and Meadowlake Farms bee products, for blemishes and other issues that pop up with hormones and weather.  Their products are awesome and mix and match well with anything, but what you see above is what's in my cosmetic and beauty tray in the bathroom right now.
(2)  What I keep at Dad's so I'm not hauling stuff back and forth.  Mostly cheap, with an exfoliating product that's TSA size to transport out there since I buy it on the internet only. From left to right.

Paula's Choice 1% Retinol Treatment. With rosacea I have to avoid any manually exfoliating products and this works really well, just a couple times a week keeps my skin smooth and it does smooth those really fine lines.

Next up is Alba Kids Mineral Sunscreen.  It's pretty thick so I wouldn't use it on my face every day at home, but it's super cheap and gentle is a great all over chemical free sunscreen for when I have a lot of yard work to do when tending to Dad's place.

Makeup is just a drugstore mascara. whatever lipstick is in my purse, and a Boom color stick for cheeks and eyes.

For cleansing and moisture all over you can't beat the Ceravie cleansers and the giant tub of CVS cream (their version of Cetaphil).

(3)  What I keep in a small overnight bag (with some personal care items and jammies and fresh clothes) in my locker at work, just the basics for a short-notice meeting in DC or elsewhere.

The products are the priciest of the products on the post today but they also pack an incredible "bang for the buck" giving me excellent anti-aging benefits with only a handful of products when I'm on the road. The larger jar is individual little capsules of retinol - I just put those in a sandwich bag.  The larger square is Rodan + Fields facial and eye cleansing clothes - as well, a few go into a baggie. That allows me to put everything in just a tiny makeup bag.
I roll in things - that's MY beauty secret - Abby T. Lab

From left to right.

NARS tinted moisturizer with chemical and non-chemical SPF30.  It actually has a shade light enough for me (called Alaska, how fitting).  It leaves a luminous finish (not shiny) and provides light coverage, moisture, AND sun protection that doesn't break me out.

Next,  BOOM by Cindy Joseph Color and Glimmer sticks with another Bad Gal Mascara lurking in the background. The "Color" one can be used as eyeshadow, blush, and lip color and the "Glimmer" stick provides highlighting to bring out your best features.

For skin care it's simple.  Rodan + Fields Redefine night cream (which I will also dab on before makeup when it's winter) and a travel sized eye cream (hidden in the picture), their retinol capsules, and a sunscreen stick that's part of a two part hand treatment I use, perfect for hands and neck. Rather than haul a cleanser that may leak I use the R+ F Makeup Removers, then just wipe my face with a warm washcloth afterward (in the winter I'll replace the clothes with a small R + F Soothe cleanser for extra moisture)

The red thing?  Well, that's a clown's nose - you never know when one will come in handy at a meeting.

For product link for items you can't get at the local drugstore:: note: (none of the products were provided to me, all were purchased)

Paula's Choice:

Honey Girl Organics:



Sephora : (mascara and First Aid Beauty sunscreen):

Eminence makeup and Skincare:

Fitglow Cosmetics:

Victoria's Secret"

Rodan Plus Fields - One of the Lab Rescue volunteers is a consultant:  Her contact info is below. Jane's a good friend and a very caring consultant. (my consultant is actually in Chicago but I could NOT find her contact info today).  Jane is in Maryland but the products can be shipped anywhere.

Jane Slavin
Consultant ID: 1432479
Market: United States
Location: Columbia,MD

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ogden Nash Called it on This One.

Some tortures are physical
And some are mental,
But the one that is both
Is dental.
- Ogden Nash

Had a visit to the dentist a few days ago for a back molar that's given me some troubles.  It has a pocket in the gum that's developed back there due to an issue with a ridge in the tooth that makes it really hard to floss back there so I've developed a bit of gum disease in that area alone.  So they're going to go in with a laser and clean out any bacteria and then put a couple of stitches in it to shore it up so I don't lose the tooth down the road.  It does NOT sound like fun.

I've never liked the dentist. My childhood one's secret hero was the Laurence Olivier character in Marathon Man ("Is it SAFE?" ) and as a result, thought "gentle Dentistry" was only for wimps and enemies of the Reich,

I didn't even like getting them cleaned "your gums look sensitive LB - let me poke them with this prison shank".  Even the super nice ones annoyed me as they'd ask questions when I have a mouth full of instruments and I'd end up going full Chewbacca on them.


I am just a total dental wimp. 

So I had put off going to the dentist for anything other than a cleaning for a few years and then I get sent off to the periodontist. (more letters equals more money).  A lot of things were different. The X-ray thing was this 180-degree imaging machine that made whirring noises as it circled me. I half expected an HAL-like voice to say: "I've just picked up a fault in the AE35 unit. It's going to go 100% failure in 72 hours."

There was a TV screen in front of my chair.  If they show reality TV, I want sedation. Note:  several people have said the sedation meds do weird things to one's brain. So If I call ANYONE at 2 a.m Friday morning and start singing The Lumberjack Song, Anchors Away, or Oh Canada just set the phone down and pretend it didn't happen. It will be our little secret.

But I was happy to find the periodontist was actually a very knowledgeable and kind man with a great support staff who made even the upcoming large four digit bill sound like a pleasant procedure, so I resisted the urge to stomp on him.  The dental assistant has even read one of my books (which may or may not be a help - oh look out - it's the prison shank!)

Still, I'm not looking forward to the procedure though my best friend offered to come over with hootch, smoothies, and mashed potatoes since my husband is away on a business trip.  Come back tomorrow for some photos of Abby Lab and general drooling.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Best Kind of Proposals

My friend

had a post up a while back about how she met her husband on Twitter and how he proposed.  I actually met my husband on the Internet.  It wasn't a dating website or anything like that.  I was writing for various magazines and had a very popular blog dealing with tools and cars and other popular "guy stuff" (since closed as Blogville is SO much more fun) and he was a fan and his Dad was Secret Squirrel, someone I knew well.  My name came up and an introduction was arranged. Due to our age difference (25 years) we were just "best buds" online, and talking on the phone for several years. Then we met in person and well, that, my friends, was that.  We were married two years later. The journey was chronicled in The Book of Barkley but for my friend Sam, tonight is the chapter of the proposal.

CHAPTER 38 - Simple Evening

It was supposed to be a simple evening. It was an early day at work, but I was home in time to get a quick shower and get dressed up for a dinner date. EJ had been overseas for a couple of weeks on business and was flying in to see me for a quiet evening.  We enjoyed the evenings like this, making dinner together, both of us loving to cook.  Then we’d play an old fashioned board game or take Barkley for a long walk. EJ would play with him, talking to him as if he were human, while I got a bubble bath. Then we’d curl up on the couch, Barkley usually shoving his way between us, to lounge against us until everyone was sleepy.  Weekends we’d play with the tools in either his garage or mine, building on things stronger than wood.

Somewhere over the course of a friendship of many years and a bonding over bad knees and bad dogs, EJ became a big part of my life.  I’d missed him a lot while he was gone, our talks of the future becoming more serious.  Tonight, I was wondering, would he pop the question?

But first, I had to feed Barkley and take him outside to potty.
My neighborhood is a quiet one, with both young and retired couples.  I have a police officer on one side of me, a young couple on the other.  All of them are great neighbors. The young couple has a rescue dog, a smaller yellow lab/terrier mix. Barkley likes to bark at him out the front window but is mostly ignored, despite his attempts at engaging the hound by leaving his calling card on the front bushes.

The block was quiet, so in a hurry to get ready, I let Barkley out to do his business.  After that, he sniffed everything, then trotted in through the garage and went into the house, off leash, just as he'd done several hundred times. He'd patiently wait in the kitchen for his treat, while I cleaned up the deposit and a few others made earlier in my yard in the dark. One thing about a ninety-pound dog, if the barking does not scare burglars away, the land mines in the yard might. As based on volume, they might think you have a grizzly bear on premises. So I kept one of those big long-handled scoopers that is open on one end and has a secondary shovel-like thing to help gather everything up.

But as I finished that up, lo and behold, the neighbor arrived home with baby and dog in tow, the dog jumping out of the car off leash to go into his house.
I wasn’t sure I could get all of his landmines in the scooper in one trip, but with careful balance, I did. It really was the perfect plan. Until Barkley heard the dog from deep within the house and rushed out the back door, out the open garage door, racing over to the neighbor's drive to finally meet their dog.

I rushed over to collect him, wielding a pooper scooper that had more crap in it than most political campaign commercials.  Barkley was over in the dog's face with the typical Labrador retriever “hi there, hi there, hi there, play with me play with me play with me” like some demented door to door magazine salesman.

The neighbor dog did not like Barkley in his space, trying to make friends on his turf, and immediately launched into “bark bark bark bark” complete with crazed eyes and snapping teeth inches from Barkley's face.

It was all show; the teeth were not making contact though they could have, but Barkley was freaking out, never having been set upon by a weird stranger (if he'd on-line dated as the rest of us have, it might not have been so traumatic). So I lunged for his collar as my neighbor pulled his dog away, one arm stretched out, the other swinging up, not realizing what I had in my other hand (yes, you can see this one coming).

Pooper Scoopers make a dandy catapult with the right angle and force.

The load of dog poop went up, and then, as gravity is likely to make it do, it came down.

Splat! Splat! Splat! Splat! Splat!

It was raining down on their driveway like a bad day in Beirut (so glad my coat is brown).

The dogs are now suddenly friends, sniffing and wagging tails, the neighbor apologizing profusely as he takes his dog and the baby from the car seat and goes inside to get the family situated.

Barkley back inside with the door firmly closed, I got paper towels, a plastic bag, a broom and water to clean their driveway, which I was doing, hair disheveled, looking like I was a very sore loser in a game of Poop Paintball.

Just then EJ rolled up, all dressed up, more than for typical travel, with a bottle of expensive wine.

I think about all he could have said if he weren't laughing so hard, but what he said was, "Would you like red or white wine with that?” - LBJ

(By the way - I said yes)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Some Bunny Loves You

The form of love.

When I was about three I got this incredibly fluffy white bunny for Easter.  I LOVED that bunny and carried it around everywhere and slept with it each night. I even told my parents that when I grew up and got married Bunny was going to sleep with my husband and I.  Every so often Mom would wash it and hang it up by the ears on the clothesline to dry. It went missing somewhere in my later teen years, my discovering science and cars and coffee and other adult things.

But a couple of years ago, Dad found it where my Mom had carefully wrapped it up and put it in a box in my closet before she died.  Dad mailed it to me.  It has almost no hair, no eyes, no whiskers.  I didn't even notice.  I just removed the wrapping paper, breathing in the scent of my Mom's Chanel No. 5 and I cried.  It's still my favorite bunny and I never stopped loving it as much as I did that first day I got it.  I'm lucky to have a spouse that feels about me the same way, as although I still have my hair, my stuffing has shifted with age.

The bunny sits up high on a shelf where Abby Lab can't get to him, but every time I look at it I just smile.  

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saturday Eats - Blueberry Buckle

No, not THIS kind of buckle.

THIS Kind:
Blueberry Buckle.

It's pretty quick to put together and not requiring more than some measuring implements, a spoon and a couple of bowls. Plus it was a huge hit with my husband. It's a "not too sweet" cake, loaded with juicy fruit topped with a crackly, spiced sugar and butter topping.
Abby Lab with her squeaky squirrel looked less than excited until she could start smelling it - it made the whole house smell wonderful.

In a large bowl mix with wooden spoon until blended and creamy:

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup lard or vegetable shortening
1 large egg
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon milk

Stir in:
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder

Fold in:
1 overloaded cup dry blueberries


In a small bowl mix and set aside:

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup sifted flour
2 pinches cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter cut into pieces, nuked until about half melted and soft

Grease an 8 x 8-inch glass pan

Pour blueberry batter in pan.

With clean fingers, sprinkle on the streusel topping

Bake in 350 F. oven 45 minutes.

You’ll get some melty sugar on a knife or toothpick when tested for doneness but there should be no wet batter when done.  Run a knife around the edge when slightly cooled, as the topping does tend to stick to the pan - that makes it much easier to serve.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday Meme

 Hailey and Zaphod's Mom  at her non-pet blog:

had a great meme up this week that I just had to fill out on my telework lunch break!  It's always fun to learn more about our Blogville friends.

1.  Were you named after anyone? My middle name is the name of a boat my Norwegian Great Uncle was Captain on

2.  When was the last time you cried?  When a friend's pet went to the Bridge.

3.  Do you like your handwriting?  I write like a doctor with a drug problem.

4.  What is your favorite lunch meat?  Does grilled cheese count as a lunch "meat?"
5.  Do you have kids?  One daughter, given up for adoption as a teen.

6  If you were another person would you be friends with you?  Yes, but I would think I was weird.

7.  Do you use sarcasm a lot?  Being able to respond to a stupid question with sarcasm is a sign of a healthy brain :-)

8.  Do you still have your tonsils? No.  I was lured to the hospital over Christmas with "you can eat all the ice cream you want".  They lied.

9.  Would you bungee jump?  No, that ranks up there with Quicky Mart hot dogs at 11 p.m.

10.  What is your favorite cereal?  Life.

11.  Do you  untie your shoes when you take them off? Yes.

12.  Do you think you are strong?  Yes. There is an occasional jar of pickles that may disagree with me.

13.  Favorite ice cream?  Mint chocolate chip.

14.  What is the first thing you notice about people?  Their eyes.

15.  Pink or Red ?  Pink.

16.  Least favorite thing about yourself?  I'm so type A my brother bought me a T-shirt that said "does anal retentive have a hyphen in it?"

17. Who do you miss the most?  My brother.

18.  Fitness or nutrition strategy you need to work on the most?  Hostess snack cakes keep flinging themselves into my shopping cart.

19. What color shoes are you wearing?    Pink slippers.

20.  What is the last thing you ate?  Leftover chicken and veggies.

21.What are you listening to right now? The sound of the rain.

22. If you were a crayon what color would you be?  Yellow.

23. Favorite smells?  Lemon, homemade bread, lilacs

24.  Last person you talked to?  The head of Secret Squirrel headquarters in D.C.
25. Mountain hideaway vs. beach house?  Mountain hideaway.

26. Favorite sport to watch?  Baseball.
27.  Hair color?  Red

28.  Eye color?  Green
29.  Do you wear contacts?  I remember the old days of hard ones, which were like putting a potato chip in your eye.  I wear glasses.

30. Favorite food?  It' s tie.  Pizza or Mac and Cheese (homemade)

31.  Scary movies or happy endings?  I used to love scary movies - after seeing first hand what lurks out there, I prefer the happy ending.

32.  Last movie you watched?  Corner Gas - The Movie.

33.  What color shirt are you wearing?  Lavender.

34.  Summer or winter?  Winter.

35.  Hugs or kisses?  Hugs.

36.  Favorite dessert?  Lemon meringue pie.

37.  Strength training or cardio?  Strength.

38.  Computer or TV?  Computer.

39.  What book are you reading now?  "What If" by Randall Monrue (creater of geek comic "xkcd").

40.  What is on your mouse pad?  Aviation humor.

41. That one was missing so I'll make one up. Favorite cookie?  Tollhouse with M and M's instead of chocolate chips.

42.  Favorite sound?  Thunder.

43.  Rolling Stones or Beatles?  Beatles.

44.  Farthest you have been away from home?  From where I was living at the time - Jordan. My hotel was blown up by terrorists a few days after I checked out.

45.  Do you have a special talent?  I can land a jet on a tiny piece of pavement without my copilot breaking out into prayer.
46.  Where were you born?  Seattle, WA

47.  Where do you live now?  Chicago, IL.

48.  What color is your house?  Brown with cream trim.

49.  What color is your vehicle?  Black.

50.  Do you like answering 50 questions?  Yes!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

In Our Garden

On the drive into the city I passed a sign that said "community garden" there on a spot that once held a small and very ancient drive in theater. The area itself tends towards the lower income, even a fast food restaurant in the area, going out of business. Houses are small, and lots are smaller, few would have space for a garden in their own yard. The houses crowd along the curve of a busy street, paint faded into dark shadows of brown and grey, that cut in and out of shadows, porches sagging just feet from a street that if widened further will be at their front door.

From a distance they look less like homes and more like a ghostly herd of creatures reaching their heads down to drink from a ghostly stream. A garden, a bit of life in this place, a bit of color, neighbors coming together to work and grow. This will be a good thing, I think as I pass yet another failed business, another shuttered home, driving down a road as silent and as black as Styx.
My parents property was not large, it edged up against mountains but the actual property their house was on, was probably a quarter of an acre. As kids we'd hang out at my Uncle's ranch, acres and acres from which to roam. But "home" was more post 1950's subdivision than sprawling rural playground.

Still, Dad always had a garden, even if it was only about 12 x 12 feet in size. Every year he'd till till the soil, and we'd help him plant the seeds. I was expected to help with the watering and the weeding, but I got a quarter for every bucket of weeds I'd pull, as this duty was above and beyond the other many chores I had, for which there was no allowance given, only a roof, food and love.. I didn't particularly enjoy the task, but Dad wanted us to learn, early on, that nothing is given to you and money is earned.
It was pretty much the same veggies each year.  First would be planted the swiss chard, which my Dad loved, cooked and sprinkled with flavored vinegars my Mom would make.  Then there would be carrots, cabbage, lots of tomatoes, and green beans.  Each year, he'd also plant two rows of corn.  The corn never did well, but he never gave up on it.

The neighbors had gardens as well, and when someone was on vacation we'd water and tend to their garden, as they did ours. Seeing the sign for the community garden, I thought of that. I thought of it again, as the front flowerbeds at the Range were cleared of weeds. For a hundred years flowers have bloomed here, plants shooting up the lattice as the children in the home themselves, sprouted, grew strong, and then left.

Along the side of the house, I remove a piece of trash that had blown into the lattice work and it takes me back. What is it about certain things, the simplest of things, a flower, a smell, the feel of a piece of wood or tool in your hand that evokes a place, a voice, that makes you feel like a small child walking on a path of life that suddenly got so big.  And like a child, you deeply sense how it makes you feel, but the words you know to explain it are so very limited, so you just sit, and look, and breathe it in.

As I secured the lattice I had to stop and sort my words, as memories came unbidden, color, movement, shape. My mom bending over the garden, helping my Dad week, a young woman over whom death had already casts its shadow as surely as the apple tree sharing her that day. In this garden here today, I can smell the perfume of her beloved roses and the remembrance of the fluid movements of her hands in the soil as real to me as a tide. She worked in the same way as she watched over us. Steady, gentle, certain.
There were times I'm sure Mom and Dad didn't want to work out there, Dad with a full time job, a home to maintain and care for, as well as the paper recycling the Lions Club did to put money into the community and his work as a deacon in our church. Mom had rambunctious red-headed children, dogs, chores and health that was precarious for so many years, but never so much she failed to volunteer at the hospital. But they did the work as it was more than a hobby, it was food for the table.

Mom enjoyed convenience as much as anyone, but they made a conscious decision for her to stay home to be a full time Mom. She'd been a Deputy Sheriff for 18 years, a career she was proud of, but she was more proud to simply say her job was "Mom" when they adopted us late in life.  But that meant the budget didn't allow for expensive prepared foods from the grocers but for the occasional treat and baking supplies. We ate well, we just ate within our means. We grew, we fished, we bought a steer and raised it with a neighbor who had more land, butchering it to feed two hungry families each year. Mom and my grandmother who lived with us, baked bread and canned, not just food from the garden but the fruit off of the trees, the yard having a large and hardy, apple tree.

It wasn't always a success. We had the occasional two inch mutant carrots, small tomatoes, or no corn at all. Dad had a fence tall enough to keep deer out. Small critters were still an issue and the fact that he caught my Mom putting scraps out for the possum he'd been trying to hunt down and kill  to keep it from eating his produce didn't help. But he didn't get angry at her. He never did, accepting her quirks as she did his, with a bemused smile and tenderness that always hovered about like the beating of small wings.

When my parents were tired, when they were worn with work and worry, they simply held on, to their dream, to each other even if all that we witnessed of the effort was Dad picking up her trowel so she could rest, with a touch of hand on her cheek that left a smudge of dark earthy soil/ Such moments, such movements, were a glimpse of a profound intimacy we weren't yet old enough to grasp, but which stayed with me like a small glimpse of some sustaining truth.

A year later I again drove past that community garden to find it barren, overgrown and parched. Why did it fail? Were there water source issues, ownership issues, or was it just something new and unknown, of which we all may fear, but for the ignorant can seem perpetually vast? Or was it simply that people didn't realize that there isn't just effort to it, it's a sustained effort. You just don't drop a seed into the soil, walk away and come back weeks later to take your bounty; you don't watch others do all the work and then show up with your hands out. It's a lot of work to be a community, something lost on some folks, it seems.
Pretty soon this will be plowed under, paved over, what is left only an illusion; that which is not wishful thinking, but a remote unattainable truth some people will only see dimly, or not at all.

I didn't particularly like gardening; I still don't. But it was, and is, a good lesson in life. Sometimes you do the work, putting months, even years into something and it doesn't work out. The best of intentions can't always sway mother nature or the yearning of the human heart. here comes a time, when you are left to reach into the tangled remains, through the tumbled underbrush, the barren patches, where all seems to be dead, but something is left for you, if only a goodbye. Perhaps there is one last piece of fruit on that vine. Perhaps you can pluck one last bit of nourishment before it is gone, the bittersweet against your tongue, one final taste of the reason you started it in the first place.
I imagine for at least one of the residents in that neighborhood, the one that put the work in, that walked those blocks in the hot temperatures, who braved the sun, who believed, it was hard to walk away, to realize they alone could not save it. For all of it, the sweat and tears, the friendship, the love, that either blossoms under harsh sun, or withers away, all of those things that make you its master, also makes you its captive.

Dad can not keep up his garden, even with assistance, he could not bend to pull from the soil, that which he desired. He only bends down now to lay down upon a grave in a military cemetery, the flowers he has slain in honor of his love, watered by his tears, upon a hilltop where the soil holds fast to what's left of honor. I will watch him there from a distance, giving him time alone, watching him as he likely used to watch me.  We'll stay until the shadows deepen and the river darkens, the inevitable task of the night, falling down upon our presence, darkness fading the very outlines of stone, burying the outlines of this place, this day, like the soft and steady fall of ash. It is only then, that he will leave.

Dad's garden is fallow, but on the deck, within a few feet of the door to the family room are two elevated barrels and a trellis on which grow just a few tomatoes.  He can water without bending, and pull them from the vine without effort, to enjoy, if only briefly, that gift, until nothing remains of it but memory, a shadow in the light.
Today in my own flowerbeds, pulling yet another weed among the flowers, I find a small penny, dated a lifetime ago and pluck it from the soil like some forlorn magician.  I wonder where it came from; who dropped it here and when.  I wash it with the hose, revealing a gleam that still exists even if  what it represents won't buy a single thing, in and of itself.

I'm tired, but there is still much to do, as I look around this place that is now my heart's home.  The grass devours the sunshine, the flowers nibbling at the crumbs.  I drink from the hose, let the water trickle down the back of my neck as I look to the east. There beyond a crowded urban sprawl I have little time or attention for, is a large body of water, that's been here before this land was tended, and will be there longer after we are dust.  The haze rises off of it, the sunshine catching its surface, lending to it the form of a mirror in which the city is only an illusion.
I look back to my work, tucking the penny deep into my pocket.That's what my Dad would do. Everything worth having is worth working for, something we realized there in those days of watching and learning from Mom and Dad toil in the garden, those days where we were but the echo to their sound.

I put my hands down into the soil, drawing air deep into my lungs, fueling my thoughts, my hands, my regrets. In the now silent sky hovers a bird, it's wings fluttering down over me, as if it were watching.


Monday, May 15, 2017

It's Gotcha Day!

With my husband in the U.K. on business the last week or so, we waited to celebrate but today we congratulated Abby Lab on her THIRD Gotcha day while I took a vacation day.
Dad will give you some extra treats!

Even better, her friend Frankie Furter sent the cutest card and box of pressies including her new favorite toy!
It's hard to believe it's been three years since we got her from Love of Labs Indiana.  We're not sure exactly how old she is, perhaps 8-10 but she's in good health with regular Vet care.

Look Abby - it's a giant stuffie from the same folks that made your favorite toy, the crunchy rabbit! (she uses it as a pillow when she's not crunching it to make it squeak which is so cute).

 One of those spikey toys like Ernie loves.  Cool!
And look at all the other goodies Frankie sent.  He is SUCH a good boyfriend to you!

Here's your squeaky snuggle buddy Abby.

Happy Gotcha day Abby - you have brought us more love than we ever imagined.