Saturday, June 16, 2018

My brotherly loss

My brother died on May 31 in Corpus Christi, at the age of 50. It is not the phone call I wanted to get but one that I had been expecting for a couple years. Today, is the first quiet, alone day I have had in the house to really be sad about his life and death.

I think it is poignant that this photo I have carried around since we lived in Scotland, has all but faded.



My brother had not been doing well for the last 20 years, drug abuse, alcoholism, living between a prison cell and under a bridge. It is hard for me to imagination what kind of hell his life has been for the last two decades. These are choices he made and for all the help that mom and I tried to give him for over 20 years, none of it seemed to matter.

Yes, I paid for his cell phone and that allowed him to be in constant contact with mom while she worried 24/7 about where he was eating or sleeping. Yes, I sent him money via Walmart every time he called in trouble or needing something... food, clothes, gas money. Yes, I bought him that cheap car when he said he had a great job and just needed a little help. The same car he wrecked the next day and was returned to jail. Yes, I paid for him to come back and forth to Seattle to see his family, hoping that that would make him want to be a part of us a "real" life again, in a good way. Yes, Yes, Yes! I think, what else could I have done? My brain screams out in sadness, anger and rage at him but my heart is broken into a million pieces.

This little kid, I knew him from the moment he came into this world, I babysat him, changed his diapers, read to him, was his sister and friend. This little kid, my brother is now dead from years of self-abuse.

After the coroner asked questions and said this might be a homicide because of the amount of blood at the scene. Which, was a convenience store he was known to sleep behind. The coroner called back to tell me that he had died of natural causes and his liver literally exploded. To imagine my baby brother dying from vomiting blood until he died was more than my brain could deal with.

I have been going through his personal papers sent to me years ago, one of the many returns to prison, sending stuff to his relatives. I have been reading his 12 step paper about his guilt of having treated his family so badly. About his drug abuse. About how he felt when his parents divorced, when he had to move, when his dad basically gave up on him. His private feelings written in his hand, his sorrow for his life is so hard for me to read. And my mind goes back to what else could we have done?

He created so much chaos for the last 30 years that it is hard for me to think of a "good time". My mind has to wonder back all the way to Scotland. Like our family trip to Inverness when he and I walked around the city late at night. Or to Breckenridge, when I took him and a car load of his friends to the drive-in.

All my other memories are terrible, gut-wrenching ones. Jail, car thefts, stealing my mom blind, me kicking him out of the house, me finding his brand new car mom had bought him at a drug dealers house. Me, calling the police on him and said drug dealers (with the car) on a nightly basis. Me, driving him to the hospital for various reasons. Me trying to sooth my mom when she discovered something he had done, stolen her guns, television, her jewelry. When I think about my mom and mine relationship, it was so intertwined with Mac's bad behavior and honestly, I got so tired of being the good kid trying to make things right. Or saving Mac from himself.

He was very close with mom. When she passed away, he was devastated and we cried together many, many hours over the phone. When I discovered mom's life insurance was left to both us ... and realizing he would get $12,000 in one lump sum, I was really afraid for him. I begged him to let me take care of it for him. That money could get him a place to live, food to eat, he could have a some normality for a bit. Back and forth, and he ended up taking that money and packing up his other homeless friends and moving to Corpus Christi, I knew something terrible was just around the corner.

The day after he took that money, he called me to post bail for him. At that point, I said, do not call me back. After years of trying to make something right, it has just gone completely wrong. And I simply had had enough of his bad behavior.

I was so guilty about having a home, a family, a meal in the table, a bed when I knew my brother was struggling for his next bottle of cheap alcohol or his next fix, his next place to sleep. It was so hard to accept that it destroyed my mom's life daily to think of her son in those conditions. It was so hard not to be so very angry at what he had done to his life, his kids' lives, his family's life. I want to cry my big, heart-broken tears and try to remember the sweet times I had with my baby brother. Instead of searching for him on mughots to see if he has been arrested lately. I am hoping he is at peace now.


This was the last time Mac came to Seattle to see us. It was a good visit. 


yellow polyester suit? What was I  thinking. And matching yellow shoes!

Turning lemons into lemonaide, or tears into magazine covers

I hate when we lose coworkers but we have this fun tradition of making them a departing gift of a Hutch Magazine cover. Here are just a few I have made lately. Saying good bye is a hard thing to do!






Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Randy Rainbow is my hero

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Tuning into nature, turning off the news

For the very first time since last November, I turned off the news. In disgust.

No longer able to listen to the bullshit coming out of trump's white house and mouth. In the quiet, I listened to the birds. Watched our new cat, Finn, play in a paper sack in the yard. Deadheaded the hydrangeas. Swore at my husband in my head for cutting down the grapes while I was not home. Looked over into the new neighbors yard, now with a "complete and unadulterated" view from lack of said grapes. Followed a bee's path around the yard. Small white petals fell from the Snowball like snow in the summer, covering the ground. Gazed up at the warm sun and thought, this is a perfect moment. Grabbed this moment and hold on tight.

Decided to put on some of zen music that I have been not been interested in some time.


I have another day off of work, the luxury of waking up when I want, drinking coffee slowly from a cup and not in the car, behind the wheel. Binge watch Midsomer Mystery Season 20. Remember when the only way Mom and I could watch all the seasons was when I had to buy the complete sets on Amazon. Now, on Amazon Prime and BritBox, anything is possible.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Observing Earth

Observing the Earth archives  

Earth observation image of the week

  
EMILY BLINCOE photography

Friday, May 25, 2018

Meeting my sister, Susan!

My sister, Susan, came to visit! 

It was emotional from the first second of seeing her. She looks so much like "mom" and that was a little jolting. Her fun, sweet outlook of life, much like mom. Her hair, her smile, her eyes, her love of jewelry, her happy personality ... all very familiar to me. The one thing I caught myself saying was "my mom did this, or "my mom was this", realizing that this was her mom as well. It hurt me when I found myself saying it and quickly corrected that. Yes, this woman, I knew all my life, had a daughter I never knew about. Mind BLOWN

Going through documents, Mom's second marriage was on Susan's birthday? Coincidence? Seems weird. My brother's first passport (he was born on December 10th) had his birthday on December 17th, weird Freudian Slip? Maybe?

It hurts to my core that mom never felt like she could share this with the rest of her family. I can only imagine the shame and hurt she experienced, but wouldn't have it been wonderful for all of us to reunite at this point in our lives. To have so many questions answered, to have some unity to a family divided 60 years ago? I regret so much that mom was not here, to meet, hug, talk, laugh and come together in an understanding that life is not always fair for woman in the 1950's. That hard decisions are made that can be taken back. That mom could have had some reassurance that Susan has a good life, is an amazing person and held no ill will towards her.

We can't change that. Mom is gone. But Susan and I have each other and we can only go forward. I think about being in an alternate universe where she is going to High School and having experiences, and me doing the same in another state, all the while, having a sister I did not have a clue about. It is almost more than my brain can comprehend.

We held hands and hugged a lot. It felt good. We looked at photos, her life, my life. We shared memories of our lives. I met my niece, Lauren, who also came to visit. We did a little Seattle sight-seeing, visiting some of my favorite places. Matt was very emotional because Susan looks and sounds very much like mom, and he misses her. Frankly, we were all just blown away.

But we both waked up in the middle of the night and think "I have a sister". She knew she had a sister and was looking for her for many years, and me, never knowing I had one. Life is full of surprises! Blessed ones, as it turns out.

In typical sister-fashion, she kept telling me to smile. But as I pointed out, she inherited the perfect smile and I did not ... ')




Ex-Texan angry white woman

As much of the world, I watched the first day of Trump announcing his presidential bid by demeaning Mexican and Mexican Americans in disgust. And every day of his campaign and hence his presidency has been nothing but the biggest embarrassment that the United States as ever experienced. It is obvious to anyone reading news other than Fox News, that he has been money laundering for the Russians for many, many years. He is making money off of his presidency as well as his family, which he has installed in the White House as "advisors". To most of us, the entire sham is a slap in the face. Not to even mention the corporations "investing" millions to Trump's businesses, the porn star payoffs that the evangelist have given him a "mulligan" for, China investing in his Indonesia real estate, the list is too extensive talk about here. But if you want to keep up, you should read Amy Siskind's list of Trump's doings.

I ignored his "birther" conspiracy crap thinking that the rest of America would see it as ridiculous campaign to further his exposure on television (particularly right wing), hence his "brand". It is hard for me to wrap my head around smart Americans would think that Barack Obama was not an American citizen. Even some of my friends from college would go "Meh, (shoulder shrugging) you never know" and I would immediately get "unfriended" and scratched off my Christmas list. I am not fucking joking around about pushing this false propaganda at the expense of our democracy.

Speaking of "unfriending" folks. I have unfriended, and stopped communicating with most of my family and high school and college friends, you got it, from Texas. I don't feel badly about this. I don't feel sad about this. I feel that I am standing up for what I think is right and just for this country. I have heard since I can remember from most of my Texas family, "they are going to take our guns away" while they continue to buy guns and shoot their guns. No one has ever knocked on their door and asked for their guns. The entire conversation I would have with my family about their fear of their guns being taken away would leave me speechless and laughing. I distinctly remember a conversation I had on a phone call with my father and step-mother about government coming after their guns after I suggested that I did not think automatic weapons were appropriate in our society. This was after some (one of many) school shootings and I was outraged. They talked about how they needed to defend themselves against ???, never did figure out from what, unless it was a Mexican or and African American coming after them in their very white neighborhood in the outskirts of Dallas. I told them that I didn't even know what you are talking about. I have never felt the need to have a gun in my home. I do not feel threatened, I do not see anyone as a threat and that I felt sorry for them if they felt like that every day of their lives. Ignorant fear like that is a poor excuse NOT to have reasonable background checks on potential gun owners and reconsidering automatic guns at large in our society.

I have told my family not to contact me again, ever. I am sick (and tired) of the racist, mentally unhealthy paranoia that they live in. I have heard it my entire life. So you ask, "Why now", why take a this drastic step now to excommunicate your family and friends? Because we have all watched this history unfold before during the rise of Hitler. Who stood up then against what they knew was wrong and did not speak up and how many people died in the wake of that?

I am angry. I don't mind talking about it. I don't stop tweeting about it and putting all the ridiculous stuff going on in this administration on Facebook. I am not sorry I ditched my family. I feel sorry for them. I feel sorry for my friends who think Tomi Lahren is a good example of  "speaking the truth". As all of Fox News, she is a racist, full of base-baiting bullshit spewing it out the their racist viewers. And I am sure my father is sitting on his recliner, in the Texas heat, watching, nodding his head, agreeing with every disgusting word that falls out of her mouth, as he cleans his guns that no one has taken away from him. I just wonder how I can be related to him in any possible way?

And one other note. HOW can the NRA be a tax-exempt entity? I think THAT should come to an end. 

It feels good to rant. I might do it more often, here on my blog. I miss my blog.

Olaf Hajek

I love Olaf's work! His website, his Instagram



Sunday, April 22, 2018

What a sight!

Friday, March 30, 2018

DIY Cactus

Les Cactus Totémiques has these adorable cactus with a pdf download with the pattern. 


Make these cactus too! With easy to follow instructions.



Saturday, March 24, 2018

"Story of Flowers"

 
Botanical Animation “Story of Flowers”
Produced by AMKK
Directed by Azuma Makoto
Illustration by Katie Scott
Animation by James Paulley

#MarchForOurLives has changed me

You will not be surprised to hear that the last year+ has been hard for me and anyone who can see the obvious in front of them ... Trump is corrupt, lying, money-laundering, racist AND he is our president. And since last November I have spent every minute reading every story, article, watching every video to figure out what is going on in our government. I admit, I am scared to death. What scares me more than anything is that 33% of Americans believe Trump has been chosen by God to lead our country? That I have severed relationships with family and friends who think Trump is a good choice for President. I will not be convinced that he has one ounce of good in him, I will not try to "listen the the right's point of view" in this matter. 

I understand why many people are upset about out economy. God knows, David and I work our asses off to try and stay relevant and technologically up to date in an ever-changing work force. We moved to find jobs. We left places we loved to find a job. So yes, we know how hard it is to make a living. But that did not stop us from giving it our best shot. 

I have been living on the edge for a year trying to figure out how folks can NOT see what he is. It is like being in mourning, I don't really want to laugh at jokes or watch something funny. I want to be as real as possible and keep my eyes open for every second, this shit show we call the Trump presidency changes players and gets closer to nuclear war, deregulating our environment back 40 years, bringing hatred and racism back to the forefront of our culture.

Putin has Trump in his pocket, that much is obvious. Who knows how long this joke will go on but we know we have at least until 2020 to suffer through it.

BUT today, I have felt lifted higher than I can remember. To watch these kids... these smart, articulate, passionate kids stand up for their right to be safe in their class rooms is almost more than my heart can bear. Last month I felt I was losing hope for the future and today I am FULL OF HOPE their future! So as I wipe tears from my eyes, I can say, tomorrow I will wake up and fill so much better than yesterday. And those politicians not paying attention will be out of a job very soon.


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Righting a past wrong

This week started off with a big family secret bouncing out of the darkness through DNA testing. My mind is still reeling with the facts from the past, revelations that are both devastating and thrilling ... I have a sister! 

I gave Matt and Bri a DNA testing kit for Christmas, they took the test and sent it in. We read all the results with fascination. It was interesting and David and I promised to take the test soon. 

 A few night ago Matt received an email from a women who came up as a match on his DNA testing as a relative. At first I told him to delete it thinking it was spam but the more he read, the more the facts shot out at me, the more I thought, there might be something here. I asked him to forward me the email so I could take a closer look. In five minutes, I had the person's info, where she lived, worked and her Facebook page so I knew it was a real person ... not a bot or someone from a foreign country phishing. After clicking through her photos on Facebook I came across one photo that had Matt, Bri and I falling out of our chairs. This beautiful woman, with hazel eyes, had my mom's eyes, nose and smile. Any one who knows my mom, has seen photos of my mom can not dispute the fact that she could be her twin!


Within 30 minutes I was emailing Susan, explaining I was Matthew's mother and I would like to talk to her about her DNA test. Another 30 minutes I had a response with her story.

Hello!

Thank you for responding so quickly. I really wasn’t sure if anyone would actually respond. My best friend gave me the DNA test for my birthday and it took me a few months to decide to even send in the sample. And what a shock to see that I have a blood relative as close as a cousin. And then to have a response!!  I’m beyond excited.

I was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on 12/17/1957. I was in foster care for two years and adopted on 1/14/60. My parents raised me in Springdale Arkansas. I have a brother, Ross, who was also adopted. He is 2 years older than me (and was reunited with his birth mother several years ago).

I hired a private investigator who was able to find my birth mothers name but could never locate her. Dianne Moreland Hawkins was the name she said was my birth mother. I have nothing on paper, just the word of the PI. I have no information about my birth father.

According to records I received from social services in Arkansas, my birth mother was separated or divorced from her husband. She already had a daughter who, I think, was less than two years old. (A half sister!!) She conceived me with another man, left town to give birth then returned home, I assume.


Sincerely, Susan


I emailed her right back and said ... I think I am your sister! I think we were both taking a deep breath of reality? Unreality? I sent her several photos of mom and asked her to call me. And there ended her 20+ years of searching for a half-sister and the beginning of me having a sister I never knew about.

Now we are in the process of talking and learning about each other. Piecing together facts that we have and information from the adoption agency. Many tears. Many thoughts of gratitude. Many more of confusion of a secret so buried.

So now off Susan and I go into the future! More to come. ;)

PS a photo from Susan!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Andy Dixon

Seems like I am drawn to riotous color these days. Like these incredible paintings by Andy Dixon. Also find him on Instagram.
 






Saturday, February 24, 2018

City Palace, Jaipur

City Palace, Jaipur The colors! The patterns! The imagery! The texture!









Palau de la Musica Catalana

Palau de la Musica Catalana
 



 








Saturday, February 17, 2018

The thrill of looking down

Looking down never made me so happy as these images! Sebastian Erras shoots floors! More than floors: mainly tiles, mosaics, colors and gorgeous patterns. 

On Instagram, Parisian floors, one guy - one city - one perspective