Tuesday, June 24, 2008


A long time ago, we visited Grandma and Grandpa, and Grandpa showed us the new carvings he'd been working on. Visiting Grandpa's shop was always memorable for me, and as he showed us the bigger, more sophisticated pieces, my unsophisticated eye was caught by a small carving, maybe three inches tall, a little blue jay. More stylized than realistic, and painted, unlike most of his pieces. A simple little thing, but I fell in love.

I asked Grandpa what he was going to do with it, and he smiled and said he didn't know, and I could tell he knew I wanted it. I didn't want him to think I was greedy, and I don't think I could ever ask an artist to give me even the smallest work of his hands. We went home, and I put it out of my mind. When I unwrapped my present from Grandpa the next Christmas, and I saw that little blue jay carving, I don't think I've ever had a gift that made me happier.

Grandpa died back in 1998. When I got the news, time stopped. I hung up the phone and walked to the window. They were unremarkable moments, everything my eyes fell upon were things I'd seen every day. I looked out of my apartment into the courtyard, and heard the call of a blue jay. I stared blankly into the sunlight, my mind empty, and the jay fluttered down onto the sidewalk, the sunlight irridescent on wings like lapus lazuli. He looked at me looking at him, and cocked his head, hopping a bit, then he flew away as my eyes filled with tears.

Ever since then, blue jays bring Grandpa to mind. Daddy died on the same day, four years later. The pair of jays that nest outside my window at work give me pause every time I see them.

A few years ago, when Mom was moving to Schertz, one of the dogs got into one of the cardboard boxes, and one of the things in that box was my blue jay. Mom tried to glue some of the broken off splinters back, but finally asked if I just wanted her to send it to me. I said that would probably be best, but when I saw it, all I could do was cry and put it back in it's wrappings.

The second and third times weren't much better. But finally I was able to take a look at the damage and Mom's repair. Most of what she'd done I decided I'd need to undo, so I started in with an exacto-knife. I cut away the glue and shaved some slivers off some of the edges so they'd fit better. I glued the tail back together, and set it aside. I wasn't sure how to proceed, and it was still pretty emotionally draining work.

Yesterday I was putting some things back in the tool box that we'd used in setting up the new TV. And I saw the wood glue. And I got an idea.

I pulled out some tooth picks, put down a paper towel, and started dripping wood glue into the cracks where things had to be glue back, and to fill the pits where Ollie's teeth crushed in the wood. The glue softened the wood some and I was able to push some things back into place. Today I pulled down my acryllics and my brushes and began to paint over the glue.

I'm not the artist he was; I haven't put in the time. And I don't have the paints he used so I couldn't match the colors just right. But you'd have to look a lot closer to see the damage now. It's fixed, and I can display it with his other carvings. It means so much to me, and I'm so happy I'm crying. :-P

I was talking to Tim last night about my repairs, and I asked him, at what point, as I poke and prod and glue and paint, does it cease to be my grandfather's work?

Tim answered, "It's a collaborative art project between your grandfather, you...

"and your mother's dog."

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Quick Update

In as few words as possible. Details available upon request.

* Mom's having her surgery on July 2.
* I'm getting a new TV tomorrow.
* Danny asked if I still wanted to move to New Orleans. Maybe in December...
* I've now held a job for 2 years.
* I switched to Green Mountain Energy and have started drinking herbal teas.

Other than all of that, life is pretty much what it's been for the past few years.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Through a Glass

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. - 1 Corinthians 13:12
Lately it’s occurred to me that while I have been successful in preserving a certain innocence and wonder in my life, I have, in some of the best ways, become a grown up. It’s not the fact that I use adult language at times (especially on the freeway), or that I’ve learned to enjoy certain alcoholic beverages (only very sweet ones). It’s not that I have a job, pay my bills, or even that, well, I was married.

When I was a child, dad would joke about me becoming a doctor or a lawyer, so I could afford the best old folks home there was for him. It made me uncomfortable, the thought of taking care of my folks some day. Of being the one in charge, instead of being the one they cared for. It was before my sister was born. I felt like it would of course be my duty, and that I loved these people and would certainly do the best for them, but it felt like it would be a weight, and I was so little, I couldn’t imagine ever being old enough to bear it. But now I do have a job and pay my bills, and can take care of myself, and I find myself feeling protective of my mother. She doesn’t need my care yet, of course, but I do care. I like giving gifts, things that people would like, but my mom… there’s no way I can ever pay her back for what she’s given me. She’s an amazing woman whom I respect more and more as time passes, and if I could buy the world I’d give it to her in a golden bowl. She will never be a burden. I know what I owe her, and I will give her nothing less.

A big part of this, of course, is that I’ve learned to take care of myself. When I was a child, adults seemed to me… capable, competent, confident. I was unsure of myself, wasn’t sure of my place, or if I found a place, if I could fill it. But over the past few years I’ve realized that wherever I am, I can make a place for myself and fill it with ease and grace and joy. Not because I’m perfect and never make mistakes. But because I know what my failings are, I know my limits. And I’ve had PLENTY of experience cleaning up my mistakes. Knowing I can fix what I don’t do right takes a lot of the fear out of just living, and I think that maybe not all grown ups are lucky enough to have found that place for themselves, I know that in that sense, I am a grown up by the definition I always held. I’m capable, competent, and confident!

There are many childish things I will never put aside. I am not ashamed of the magic I find in a world hemmed in by the prosaic machinations of mundane minds. I’m not ashamed to be awed by a dew drop or babble with a baby, or event to blush and refuse to participate when things that are private and powerful to me are joked about crudely. I’ve never gotten plastered, or had a one-night stand, or gone crazy the way some people did when they wanted to grow up faster. I never wanted to grow up, and certainly wasn’t about to speed up the process. It happened, of course, but in a different way, and it’s hard in some ways, but it’s made me who I am, and I’m very happy with that.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11

When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up. – C S Lewis