Times passes like a fox trot.
Quick-quick-s l o w. Quick-quick-s l o w.
Days are slow, weeks are long, ages fly by in a blink.
Little e's time in elementary school is winding down,
as are Sweet G's middle school days. We're in for a
big changing of the guard come next fall.
Which brings me to this project from Little e's kinder
days. In 2008, I was hired (hired, mind you) to do a
project with all 4 kindergarten classrooms. I was
their Artist in Residence, and I had a blast. As part
of that experience, we made four quilted hangings
that brightened the hall outside of the classrooms.
Those hangings warmed the hallway, and greeted
visitors as those kinders moved through the grades.
Now they are 5th graders, and the hangings have
The hangings will be sold at this year's school auction,
and hopefully, they will go home with families who
have warm memories of their days at our elementary
I have mixed emotions about this transition.
I wonder sometimes who is more ingrained in these
childhood schools, the involved parents who volunteer
there or the children who attend the school.
After all, the parents often spend more years
attached to the school, than the children.
I had thought, hoped, believed that those hangings
would be there for evermore, but perhaps it is
better to have school that is filled with current art,
not the decorations of children from the past.
I am struck again how difficult it is to estimate
how art effects others, and what is important.
There have been so many projects during my
time at our elementary school; I wonder which of
those projects meant the most to the children
who did them, and the people who hold them now.
Quick-quick-s l o w, quick-quick-s l o w.
Yesterday, my sweet Tank, the kitty-man of my heart for
nearly 17 years, died.
Many years ago, when Big E and I were both employed
and childless, we were money saving machines with goals.
There were plans for marriage, children, a house to call
our own, and pets. To be completely frank, one of my
main drives toward a mortgage was being able to have a
cat (or cats). And so, when we had our wedding and
bought our house (within a month of each other), we
also had our cat. (Yes, our sweet girl-dog also came
along, but she is another story.)
The Tank was that cat. We brought him home as a
kitten from the humane society, and he was my cat.
Yes, he loved Big E, but I was his Person, with a
capital ‘P’. We called him Tank because he didn’t
believe in subtlety. He plodded down the stairs with
gravitas and percussion. When he jumped, you knew it.
If he didn’t like you, you were in no doubt. It was his
view that the house was ours, his and mine, but that
I kept inviting creatures into the house without his
blessing. At first, it was just humans who would come
for a couple of hours and then they would leave.
Then we brought in that girl-dog, but she, at least,
knew her place and would do whatever The Tank
demanded. Then the children came, who were
strange, unpredictable things that must be tolerated.
After a decade, or so, he decided they were okay,
and perhaps, useful. Then, we brought in that Kitten,
The Tank did not suffer outside cats. For many years,
at this time of year, on or about the first day of spring,
he would race into the forbidden outdoors to find a
feral cat. Dire battle would ensue, followed by;
a trip to the vet, the inevitable abscess, surgery,
antibiotics, wound cleanings, and a week locked in
the bathroom while his wounds healed. To achieve
this feat, he would jimmy windows open with his nose,
open doors with his paws, and leap from roofs.
It was a mission.
And into this house of one cat, we brought Mr Fuzzpants.
We thought the girls needed a cat who could love them,
not just tolerate them, and that maybe a kitten would
be good fit. The Tank hissed, ignored, batted, thumped,
and growled at the newcomer, but he did not injure him.
Mr F threw himself at the Tank with a relentlessness that
speaks either of stubbornness, craftiness, or insanity.
And, The Tank yielded. He many have been a grumpy
old man of a cat, but Mr Fuzzypants was his (sometimes
The Tank was a working cat, of sorts. He moused,
when there was need, with great success. He would
have been happy for more mousing work, but with mice
being scarce (thank goodness) most of his time was to
given to taking care of me. He followed seasonal routines.
In winter, he slept behind my knees. In summer, he slept
next to my arm. When Big E would come home from
work, he would greet him, and then make room for him
in the bed. If I stayed up too late, he would scold,
before going up to bed to wait for me. He came when
called, and always kept me company when I was sick.
He talked to me, and when I left work after Sweet G
was born, he kept me company.
He met the challenge of aging and disease, as he did
everything, with grudging compromise. When the
growths in his hind leg first started to hinder him,
he just thumped down the stairs with more percussion
than before. When I placed a step next to the bed, so
he could get in and out more easily he ignored it for a
week, and then would only use it when I wasn’t looking.
When the growths spread, he forced his legs to work,
marionette like, so he could make his rounds.
If he needed to rest after walking the length of a room,
no one should notice. Even emaciated from illness,
he was still a big cat who held his own. The day before
yesterday, when I was feeling down, he came and
snuggled on my lap, my sweet boy to the last.
And then, Big E and I decided it was time; The Tank
was in more pain than could be tolerated. The Tank,
who had always been vocal in the carrier, was silent
on his way to the vet. When the vet’s assistant came
out to speak with us, he rallied to hiss and growl, but
he was silent when she carried him back. Afterward,
it was apparent how much of what had held my sweet
boy together was will. It is difficult when the best gift
we can give our companions is relief from pain,
but I am glad that we could, at least, give him that.
I am a scientist.
And that's not a dirty word.
It's not the degree in physics that does it,
nor that I've been paid to wear a lab coat,
nor the calculus done in a past life.
It's the way one approaches life.
It's a questioning of why and how, and then
working to answer those questions.
It's a desire to see cause and effect,
to work a scientific method of research and
theory into everyday life.
It is a sense of wonder.
It is a willingness to say, "I do not know, but I want to."
One of the major disconnects between school and life
is how science is approached. In most academic
settings science is portrayed as a subject where people
know things. It is a world of absolutes and memorization.
I know Force=(Mass)(Acceleration).
I know the elements of the periodic table.
It is rules and definitions.
But this is the frame work for science, not what
scientists do in real life. Scientists out in the world
are searching, asking questions, discovering, working
with unknowns, and putting forth theories.
It is a world of many questions and few absolutes.
It is a taking of what is known, and applying it to
It is a mindset, not a set of qualifications.
This is how I can be scientist while I nurture my children,
or bake a cake, or sew a better seam, or tend to a
garden, or organize an art project, or tutor math.
I take what I know, or think I know, I apply it to a new
setting, I ask questions, I try solutions, I take data,
I listen, I reassess, I try again.
Being a scientist means not staying with what you know;
it means exploring new ideas through logic and
experimentation, learning new things, and, sometimes,
being vulnerable to the unknown.
It means success and failures, and taking risks.
Being a scientist is not related to gender, or age, or
education, or titles. It is a mindset.
Tomorrow I'm meeting two men about a project
we will be doing in September. Well, they'll be
doing the project, I'll be helping, a bit. It is one
of those events that has nothing to do with my
being a Mom or a police officer's wife. What draws
me into this project are events that were set in
motion before I'd even met my husband. This is
one of those very rare events in my life that is just
Doing something that, while being supported by my
family, is not about my family sets all kinds of thoughts
moving in my brain. There are all breeds of "What if's"
flitting around in my head.
I love my children, and I think my role here is important,
and I have independent interests (my sewing business,
tutoring, art), but still it is something to think about.
I did once think about a career, back in the dark ages
before children. After college, I applied for a teacher's
program, but the program was going through a transition,
and they only had a handful of open spaces. I was
strongly recommended to apply again the following year,
but by then I was working full time and Big E was in
grad school. I was the breadwinner, and the idea of
both of us in school, racking up debt was hard to
swallow. And then, well, Big E was a police officer,
and then I was working at another full time job and we
were saving money like fiends so we could have a house
and kids and live the life we do now.
So, here I am. Living a life I love, but still wondering
what it would have been like if I'd done differently.
There is something tempting about having a "Career",
with a life story that is public and somehow more tenable
than being at home, doing the "small" things that
make a household tick. Would I have done "bigger"
things, if I had followed up that first path? Is there
anything bigger than what I do now?
It is tremendous to build a family, to be there for
the people you love, to be available. I really don't
think there is a way to build a healthy police family
without someone firmly planted on the home front.
I have no doubt, no doubt in my mind, that Big E
would not be the officer he is now if I had a full time
career. And with Sweet G's illness this summer and
fall... well, there was no choice there either. I am
needed here, and that is important.
It's just when these opportunities do come around,
when I have to find my "Big Girl" clothes and realize
that my go-to outfit has been the same shirt and
dress pants for 6 years, and that those pants are no
where to be found, and I have to think about
verbalizing what I do, and who I am without my children
and my husband, well... it gives a woman pause.
Just because these are the wheels that are in motion
now, it doesn't mean that this will always be the
direction I want to go. It is good to be reminded
that a body has options; that not everything has to
revolve around the people you provide for, and
that someday, perhaps, you might be something
I started to write this blog post earlier in the week,
but when I was editting photos I realized that perhaps
6,000+ images on the laptop was a tad too many.
So then I started offloading images (from 2012)
to the hard drive, and one thing led to another and then,
well, that's all the time. Poof. Gone.
Valentine's Day. It happened. I got the decorations up
in good time (these are valentines from previous years).
We made lots of valentines, lovely hand made ones.
I even managed to have friends come over and join
us in the creative endeavors. Two of my workshop
dates were cancelled due to snow, but we were
having so much fun, no one complained.
Valentines in recylced tins, that opened...
And a valentine house:
a lovely love nest that lit up:
and came filled with a needle felted heart.
and then, of course, there were paper valentines.
I still need to photograph the valentines I recieved.
I love how Valentine's Day has become an excuse for
art in our homes. Yay!
We had snow, and snow days, and bit of ice at the end.
There was sledding, and more sledding, and snow balls
and tears, and even a few bruises. Little e played
and played, and Sweet G was right there with her.
It was such a good long weekend.
Sweet G has never had the energy and the endurance
she displayed during our snowy goodness. It has
always been Little e who asked first to go out, and
was the last to come in. This time, G led the way.
We are six months from G's diagnosis and hospitalization.
It's been six months of hard, long, exhausting work,
but there has been so much progress. We still get
regular reminders of what needs doing, but there is
more time spent enjoying where we are.
We've gone from hospitalization, to inpatient, to
outpatient. Once in outpatient, we've progressed from
15 doctor's visits a month, to 10, to 8, to our current
run of 7 appointments a month.
With each hurdle we've cleared, there have been
setbacks. We've wobbled like weebles ("Weebles wobble,
but they don't fall down".), and there are days when
the only thing to focus on is how far we've come.
But, this snow storm? It was a gift.
It was a bright demonstration of where six months
can bring you.
We're having a rare, bonafide Snow Day
complete with blanketing, gorgeous white
snow, with the promise of more on the way.
And, I am on the first day of a head cold,
my first of the year. All of this means,
I am sitting down. In fact, I am sitting
down with my feet propped on our front,
picture window watching the kids play
Sweet G had her birthday last weekend,
and oh, it was well deserved.
We've officially closed down the blah that is 13.
That year is done, gone, buried, in the past.
We welcomed the blank slate of a new year with open
arms and a hand-built box made of cereal box cardboard,
white glue, newsprint, and a coat hanger.
Finding the perfect blue crepe paper was both frustrating
and simple. I ordered two different papers, one turned
out to be a grey navy, and the other hot pink (it was
a mistake at the warehouse). Then, I found the perfect
blue within blocks of our house.
As much as we'd like to leave the entire year of 13
behind, there is much we have to carry forward.
Sweet G is still on a medical rebuilding plan, and is
still not allowed sweets. Which left us with a puzzle.
What to fill a pinata with?
Well, there were small balloons with jokes inside.
And then we added, handmade pom-poms, chinese
yo-yos, gel pens, rubber band bracelets made by Little e,
and then I raided my bin of Holiday Market Goods from
days-gone-by. This added fabric crowns and pen holders.
Making the pinata itself was a lot of fun.
The pinata was one part of a very fun evening. G invited
over 4 wonderful friends, for a sleepover. There was
laughter, games, Dr Horrible, live recitations of Avatar
the Last Airbender, Digbys (G and I made a Digby for
each of the guests), flaming flowers and dinosaur
Happy Birthday, Sweet G. May 14 be a kinder year than
I set aside several mornings (and afternoons)
in December (oh, and maybe November) to
making ornaments. I think I've been lax in making
time for art for art sake this school year. Too many
things (important things) kept pushing that time
into the ether. But, well, Christmas has some
It isn't what we make. It's that we set aside time to
I am such a better person, when I sit a bit more,
and take the time to play and use my hands.
I keep thinking I'll make more time for writing,
or reading, or blogging, or knitting.
But lately, that time only comes in waiting rooms.
And, while that is an excellent way to use that dead
time, it isn't as soulful as sitting at home and making
something that is just for fun or beauty.
Two days ago, I read for 90 minutes, during the day,
when I could have been Doing Things. It was good,
but odd, and it was a statement. "Here I am choosing
to do less." is what it said. The world didn't end, but
dinner was a bit late. We survived. I plan on trying
again. I can sit. I can breathe. I can make.