Sunday, March 27, 2011

Backyard Photo Adventure

honeysuckle in my backyard
Last Sunday I made a semi-impulse purchase that I'm still really excited about. About 10 minutes after getting home from visiting family and friends in DFW, I hopped back in the car and bought my first big kid camera - a Canon Rebel 2Ti. It was love at first sight.

Monday I came home and took a ton of pictures only to find them all incredibly grainy when I uploaded them to the computer. Apparently 7pm is not the ideal time to start taking pictures, at least not when the camera is more sophisticated than you.

I've spent a good deal of my evenings reading the manual, a book specifically about the T2i our trumpet teacher lent me, and taking pictures of random photo subjects. I really like the one to the left that I got this morning.

I'm hoping to get really amazing in time for our Williams trip to Ireland in July. I got some great pictures when we went on our honeymoon in 2008 using my Kodak point-and-shoot, so hopefully with a more impressive camera I'll get some more impressive shots.

Here's a sampling of my photo adventures:

one of my favorites - a little more impressive if you click and see the full image. i dig the shape the plastic makes with
st. francis popping out. :) 

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Power of Paper

Spring break has come and gone. I didn't get as much done around the house as I was planning, but I got some plants in the ground, whipped up a scarf, and then spent the latter half of the week hanging out with college friends and my family.
Anselm Kiefer "book with wings"
at Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art

Last week I spent the bulk of my time fighting any number of financial foes in my attempts to get our accounts in order, but the absence of the allusive death certificate has been more than a problem. I've, on several occasions, thought that if I could just get the damn certificate all of this would be easier to handle, because then at least I could move beyond the paperwork road block.

Today, after 5 weeks, I received the call from the funeral home that the death certificates had arrived and would I like them to mail them or would I be picking them up. It would be just my luck that if they even entered the mail system, no one would ever see them again, and I'd be back at square one. No sir, I would definitely be picking them up.

Band rehearsal was at 4:30. If I drove really fast I could make it down to the funeral home and back in time. And so I found myself at 3:45, rushing down I-35, relieved that at least I wasn't still waiting on the one paper that rules them all, zig-zagging between cars in a way I know my mother would frown upon, all to make it to the funeral home to sign my name on yet another dotted line... Finally...

When I got there, I was met at the door by a short, balding man with a heavy lisp. He seemed suspect when I told him I was there to pick up a death certificate. Apparently that is not protocol. I guess everyone else just paces by the mailbox for some indiscriminate amount of time. When I told him it was for Roger his tone changed. They were expecting me... I suppose that when you call and email a funeral home regularly, you make an impact on the directors. Again, not protocol, but then again none of my life this last year has followed protocol.

I had no idea how emotional I would get signing for a piece of paper. It's just paper. Something about seeing his name on that piece of paper though brought a new level of reality to it all.

It's official. It's legal.

I cried while I signed my name and wrote "wife" where it asked my relationship. I wondered if other people cry when they pick up a death certificate. Maybe that's why they wait behind the security of the mailbox.

So now I have this piece of paper that I have angrily been waiting to receive so that I can distribute them to the powers that be so I can gain access to accounts I should have had access to anyway... and now I don't want to mail them because it makes it official. It makes it legal. And it makes him a little more gone.

No project today. Just therapy.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Anger is a gateway drug to scarves.

my new baby Olympiad rose bush
It's been a busy few days. This whole year has been  a period of discovering things about our legal and social climate that I think most Americans would be sad to know is true.
The process of phone calls actually began about a week ago, and I don't foresee the end anytime soon. I'm locked out of a lot of our accounts because I was not listed as the primary account holder... even though my name IS on the account. Even things that common sense should guide, like my husband not needing health insurance, are being held up in a sea of paperwork that I need a probate lawyer before handling. 

I actually cussed out loud at Roger yesterday. Anyone who has been around me for any length of time knows that I have a well-honed sailor's vocabulary  that has matured and gained ever-increasing freedom over the past 7 or 8 years. Whether or not Roger was out there listening to me use new and exciting combinations of words as I got off the phone with our bank, someone got an earful yesterday around noon, even if it was just the doglets. 

In between finding new people, organizations, and institutions toward which I can now harbor great hatred, I did manage to crochet a new scarf!  I got the pattern from Crochet Mama's page on the right.
It actually only took me about 3 hours to start and finish. I'm thinking about making a cloche hat to go with it since I bought one too many skeins of Vanna's Choice in Taupe Mist. :) I, of course, am standing in front of one of our much larger projects - the fireplace Dad and I built back in July of 2009. 

On Monday I took my first load of clothes to Goodwill. It was a pretty small load and only clothes that I never liked. I'm not quite sure what you do with things like undershirts and socks in cases like this. It seems wasteful to throw them all away, but my squeamish side finds the idea of other people wearing such intimate pieces of clothing a bit icky. That's when I accidentally happened upon a website that explained how to make yarn out of old t-shirts! The result is my first two balls of t-shirt yarn! I'm not sure what I'll do with them, but there are all sorts of neat crafts I found that require t-shirt yarn, and I'm thinking I could dye some of them with tea or coffee to give them some really organic coloring.


I'm really quite taken by the trees as they resurrect from winter. Daily, sometimes several times a day, I've been inspecting each branch, looking for signs of life on the barky skeletons. On Saturday, the only tree presenting any vitals signs was the redbud in our back yard. When I awoke this morning, however, all of our crape myrtles had burst into baby leaves, in some cases hardly visible from a distance. The shumard oak is covered in very swollen buds that I know by the end of the week will erupt into salmon-colored, downy leaflets.  

Second in beauty only to the redbud is the ash trees between my and the neighbors' house. I don't know if I've ever noticed how beautiful those horrible wads of pollen can be, but yesterday while I was taking a shower, through our bathroom window, the brilliantly red pollen against the clear sky, framed by the spotted bark of the trees caught my attention. I don't mean to over-describe the view from my window, but it was enough to end my shower early (as opposed to my typical 40 minute bathing experience), throw on some clothes, and go outside, wet hair and all, to take a picture before the sky or light changed enough to lose the effect.

Thanks to Linda Davis and SOS for a laughter filled meeting last night. Laughter is good.

"I always knew looking back on my tears would bring me laughter, but I never knew looking back on my laughter would make me cry." - Cat Stevens

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow." - Proverb

At this moment last year, I was driving to IAH with my husband and sister- and brother-in-law on our way to a week of Parisian adventure. We arrived early Sunday morning to Charles De Gaulle and immediately lost our credit card to a ravenous ATM in the name of "security"... Not a problem. We still had our debit card - which was declined the first time we tried to use it.

All of this.

On a Sunday.

In France.

I was so frustrated and upset. 12 hours later we were able to contact our bank that handles both our credit and debit cards only to discover that in both instances our actions had been labeled "fraudulent activity"... even though we had called the bank a week prior and told them we would be traveling abroad, specifically to Paris. After some time on the phone, our debit card was reinstated.

This had been one of the most irritable moments of my life to date. The idea of being in a foreign country without access to funds, 5 days of vacation to go, and all forthcoming excursions (not to mention the whole needing food thing) requiring money was horrifying. Roger was *way* too calm in my opinion. Our vacation was ruined, and all he could do was be calm and thoughtful! We could just borrow money from his sister and pay her back when we got home! Did he, or the rest of Paris, not fully grasp that we, for all practical purposes, were penniless despite having responsibly contacted our financial institution in advance?


I tried to convince Roger we should take a trip somewhere this spring break, like Vegas or something equally ridiculous. Planning it was put off time and time again. It was this amorphous idea that never came to fruition, and now I'm at home on spring break for the first time in a long time with the doglets... not quite sure what to do... but the promise of gorgeous weather is beckoning me outside.

mexican honeysuckle rising from what
was a dead pile of twigs a week ago

I'm finding that as well as I seem to be handling this new reality to which I belong, I have waves of anger and frustration that no one seems to fully grasp that something horrible has happened! There are times that I am at a complete stand-still, but all around me the world is still moving forward.

My gardens are definitely proof of that.

I made coffee this morning. I'm relearning how to do that. I haven't made my own coffee in years now. (We sprinkle the used grounds throughout the yard to add some acidity to our horribly alkaline soil.) I took my coffee with me as I made the rounds in the back yard, inspecting each plant to see where in the cycle of life it is, as I do regularly. I make a point of only planting perennials. It's amazing each year to see that those which appeared to have not survived the winter somehow make a comeback with the promise of warmth. Annuals have always seemed like depressing plants... bright and showy and then they wither up with the change of seasons. Perennials though always seem to know when to take a break, store up their energy, and then awaken in a way that can't help but make life seem hopeful.

My gardens are hopeful right now.
And I think a new rose bush is in order.

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.  ~Margaret Atwood

redbud in the back yard

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Where to begin...

My life is nothing as I expect it would be at almost 29.

I recently, tragically, lost my husband: a product of the worst year of our life and a legal system that does not protect the innocent. I'm left in a house that is constant reminder of my marriage, with two beautiful doglets that still wait for daddy to come home, a job that Governor Good Hair finds expendable, and no idea where one goes from here. 

I actually had the idea for this blog about a month ago, before the unthinkable, when I was simply looking for a venue to show off all my fabulous projects that I constantly start... sometimes finish... but always enjoy. But as I stand at the proverbial crossroads of what direction my life takes now that a major chapter has ended, I have a feeling those projects might hold more value than simple diversion. 

Some people go to group therapy, physical therapy, the kind of therapy where they pull out memories you once worked so hard to bury. I, however, in the dawn of our gorgeous Texas spring (which turns into a scorching Texas summer), with memories I want to keep, not confront, am turning to project therapy. 

my ginormous butterfly bush before i hacked 4 feet off in the name of "new growth"