Goodbye Jasmine


It’s been two weeks since Jasmine left us for that rainbow bridge in the sky, her haggard body barely hanging on until the new year. At almost 14, she’d had a life of chasing 10,000 squirrels. And, she’d tracked my youngest child in age by six months. Those two had a dog’s lifetime of adventures together, playing in the grass and along the creek’s edge. Jasmine had been there for all of life’s moments, both good and bad. A copperhead bite to the face, several snowstorms, a couple of hurricanes, vacations that required her to stay behind… all were endured patiently and without complaint. After we’d been away for any amount of time, she was always standing in the driveway as our Suburban rolled up. She heard the truck, its blum, blum, blum, advancing down the drive and over the bridge. Her ears would perk stiff and she’d do a little dance, chasing her tail in circles which showed us she was terribly glad we’d decided to return once again.

This is a hard post to write. Tears still fill my eyes as I look at the box labeled Pets in Peace where her body lies in ashes. It’s a heavy box, that box that has all of her except that vivacious energy and never ending desire for a vigorous belly rub. But, tonight everyone is coming to the house for a little Jasmine tribute. I have to be strong.

How do I say goodbye to such a devoted and cherished family member? To that sweet pup whose sole goal in life was just to be with us. It’s too fresh and these memories are too tied up with my family.

Cherishing these memories will have to suffice. Remembering her many encounters with the wildlife around here — dragging in numerous deer parts, chasing chickens, scratching chipmunk holes ’til her nose was clay-stained and brown, pointing up at possums — will have to do. Recounting her encounters with neighbors’ trash cans on Tuesdays, spilling everything for a juicy sandwich wrapper or smuggling a donut from who knows where… that will have to be enough. Thumbing through these pictures… will help me not to forget how important she is to us.

I don’t want to forget.

She struggled her last four weeks of life. Her breed of Border Collie /Austrialian Shepherd made her a ball of boundless energy; however, since Thanksgiving, she’d been mostly on her bed. It was a challenge for her to eat and drink. She wasn’t chasing squirrels anymore. I was determined to “ride it out” with her and hoped we’d be with her for her last breath. But, alas, she decided that a warm afternoon in early January was as good as any to take a nap on a lush bed of ivy right out front. As was fitting, Gabe, now 14, found her, peaceful and stiff, no longer encumbered by the decay of this world. He was with her at the beginning, the day we brought her home from the shelter and at the end as we patted her still body on its ivy bier.

Yes. This is a difficult post to write. But it must be done. To remember and to let it go.

God, out of love for us, gives us pets. They keep us company, forgive us when we ignore them, and offer unconditional love. Jasmine was that for us and we are grateful.

Jasmine, always down for a hug

Ode to Blue Skies

You slap me in the face

like a bucket of ice water on the fifty yard line.

I wake from my stupor

to spot seagulls swirling above my mother’s head,

corn chips drawing them closer and closer,

their shapes softly silhouetted in your sapphire sky.

A cup is gripped tightly by an admirer

in the distance.

Time stops.

Then, a black crow lands and

the cobalt fades to powder and salmon.

Lingering here,

I understand,

but only briefly.

A chill wind brushes against my cheek

and you’re gone.

The Fifth of May

May Fifth! Cinco de Mayo!

On the morning of the fifth, I brought my camera out to document just what we were doing during this Corona time. Every image shows some change or shift we’ve encountered during this pandemic. Music lessons at home, Zoom classes, skim boarding inside (that’s a first), big boys working on a broken down house, finding quiet in nature, and celebrating with a big game of fuse ball. Always in motion, even shelter in place can’t slow a crowd of seven. If not for the forced at-home time, I probably would’ve missed these surreal moments and the characters therein.

It’s hard to play a band instrument alone everyday for weeks without tuning in with your section leader or instructor. Here, an attempt is made to focus on this difficult task, for the 30th time alone. Then, move to a different room and there’s a beach bum yearning for some sand and surf to ride. I absolutely love the resourcefulness of making your own skim surface on the carpet.

Later, I took a ride down the street to a house we are renovating. Coming in just as lunch was ending, I saw the real grunt work happening with pry bars and nail guns.

Outside in the front yard, I snatched a peek of my daughter catching a few quiet moments with a book before dinner. Then, I witnessed at close range, a rousing game of fuse ball to complete this memorable, yet commonplace kind of day.

A Black and White Journey Through Social Distancing

The last six weeks have been a journey through disunion. In a matter of days, we went from full, busy lives to social isolation and quiet. It is really quite a contrast. I’ve spent half of these days scratching my head with it all. If you’re like me, you’re surrounded by dichotomy on all sides.

There are the folks who think this is all a hoax. “It’s all blown out of proportion,” they say. Then, there are the people who say this pandemic is the apocalypse, and have stored up 6 months of food, purchased pallets of industrial sized toilet paper and bought up a few more guns.

At the grocery store, there are the mask wearers and the non wearers. I’ve seen everything from full plastic shields with masks to skeleton themed balaclavas to nothing.

There’s the political and the apolitical. Some think the shelter-in-place orders are a ploy to gain control and desensitize people to socialism. Others think the shelter-in-place orders were put into action too late for any real affect. Some are pulling for Bernie, some for Biden!

Disunity can be seen in the way the young and the old are responding to this virus crisis. There are the spring breakers, gathering in party hordes on Florida beaches. Then, there are the elderly who have their groceries delivered to their door step so that they don’t interact with any one in any way.

As a teacher, I’ve seen students on Zoom who are completely in for distance learning. On the other hand, I’ve seen students who cannot manage any of this and haven’t shown up or turned in a single assignment since everything locked down in mid March.

Its all too much!

Like my black and white photos, it is a study in contrasts. It is an exercise in managing shadow and light.

The overlap here is that black and white photography eliminates color so that the viewer focuses on shape and composition. That is what I’m attempting to do in the midst of this epic shift we are experiencing: to get away from the burning details and look more closely at the soft edges and silver linings of the times.

Floral Tattoos

Slice of Life 2020: Day 23

About two weeks ago, before the common era, I was asked by a friend if I wanted to make flower tattoos. These aren’t parlor tattoos. They are real flowers glued gently onto flesh colored kinesiology tape. The purpose of these little gems is to replace the bulky flower corsages so popular at proms and homecomings. After wearing a corsage for a short time, any young woman can attest to the challenges of keeping the item pinned properly in place and the flowers from being damaged.

Enter the flower tattoo! The original idea for this came from passionflowersue over on Instagram. Flower tattoos just stick to your arm or your shoulder or wherever you want them to embellish. Made up of smaller flowers, they’re beautiful and hold up perfectly for hours.

Here’s what we did…

First, my friend Tracy bought a load of colorful flowers. She went out in the yard and collected even more, so that ultimately we had a forest full of little flowers and greenery on a big table. She also brought colored kinesiology tape and E6000 glue found in the Walmart craft department. She cut out eye-shaped pieces of the tape with regular scissors.

Next, she told us to sit and start building the arrangement. There was a chill outside which made for happy, perky blossoms. To start, I squeezed a thick line of the glue onto the fabric piece. Then, I nudged little sprays of succulents, tiny white flowers, tea roses, fern, and wild violets into the clear glue. The glue stayed pliable for about 30 minutes. I kept adding more and more flowers until it was packed and full.

Then, we misted them with water and took a picture.

Now, if I were to place this onto a young lady’s wrist as a corsage, I would just unpeel the back of the fabric (K-tape) and stick it onto the skin. That tape is designed to stay in place all day and under damp conditions like athletes would encounter playing volley ball.

What do you think?

Lord willing, when things get back to normal, I’d like to make these with some mom-friends for homecoming. Its a really fun activity to do with people you like being around.