Portrait of the Artist

I think I did pretty well after the flood as we started pulling stuff out of the house and I ruthlessly decided what was trash and what wasn’t. “I don’t care” became my stock response to every item someone else expressed sympathy about. But when I found this in a flooded bin, it made me physically ill. I didn’t know I still had it. I’d even asked my brother last year if he had it, and he thought he did.

This discovery about broke me.

Debby and Lynne painstakingly lifted it from the water and found a way to place it where it could dry. It did dry, and the truth is, there was already some staining on the sketch long before our flood, but nothing like it has now.

Written on the bottom: HERE’S AN ARTIST’S CONCEPTION OF ME. I can’t read the artist’s name, but I think the date is 1949, which would corroborate what my mother once told me, that the sketch was done of my father by one of his fellow art students while he was in college.

Today’s Daddy’s birthday. The sketch is weathered but it will be okay. Like me.

He was one of the biggest reasons I’m a strong person.

Button Sunday

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day.

For more information about recognizing the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, please visit the American Association of Suicidology website. If you are struggling, please visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline website. You can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

Going through bins of old mementos and papers, I found cards and letters from Aaron both to me and to my mother. Post-flooding, my heart is not strong enough to read them right now. My home and heart will heal from the flood. My heart will always have broken places from losing and missing Aaron.

Please reach out for help if you need help.

Who saved my sanity…

In the first week after the floods:

Lindsey and Rhonda, who came and packed so many of the things that made me feel daunted and overwhelmed.

Tim who in light of all he’s lost could continue to say, “They’re just things.”

A young man named Dustin who doesn’t really even know us but went through the house with Tom and helped him get a starting point in dealing with the destruction.

Our contractor Keith, who when asked to come look at the damage, not only showed up the next day but brought a crew of workers with him and began tearing out sheetrock and pulling up flooring and gave us good advice on how to start setting things right.

And the bunch below: Pete, Lynne, Debby, Tom, and Jess. They have packed and moved and cleaned. Hauled debris. Fed, cheered, and comforted. And Jess was with us, helping us, instead of spending his son’s first birthday with him. I will NEVER forget the feeling of Pete and Jess showing up raring to put our world back in order. We wished Isaac a long-distance happy birthday with our pizza. He will always be blessed with examples of what family means.

Who else? You know who you are. You emailed and called. You texted and messaged. You commented here and on Instagram. You offered to do anything you could to help. Just knowing you’re out there sending love and good wishes has been huge. My gaze toward the future and determination to make Houndstooth Hall even better has been inspired by you. Thank you.

A tale of three cameras


On the left is my D40. It’s the first digital SLR camera I bought in 2008. I was in love and I immediately mistreated it by letting it fall off the over-the-bed table in my mother’s pre-hospice care room. All that tumble did was disable the flash and I bought an external flash for it. After my mother died, I sent it away for repair, and Lindsey loaned me her camera when we had my mother’s memorial service late summer of 2008.

The D40 has logged a lot of joy and sorrow, and it was the camera I was using when I began photographing RPM’s dogs and cats in 2013. I knew I was using it a lot. A LOT. I worried about how long it would last.

In stepped Tim. When he bought his second Nikon, he gifted me the middle camera here, the D60. His generosity was a lifesaver when my D40 had to be repaired. Once it was good to go, the D60 was my backup camera. Then the D40 had to be repaired again. These are not cheap repairs, and I made an agreement with myself. I couldn’t keep fixing a camera just because of my sentimental attachment to it. So when it was fixed, the D60 became my primary camera and the D40 is my backup.

Last Thursday at transport, we were about halfway through when I felt something happen inside the D60 and it stopped working. I ran for my D40 and finished the job.

SO… Of course I’ll have the D60 repaired. After all, it was given to me and hasn’t cost me anything yet. It deserves its repair. But it will take a while to get that taken care of, and the thought of depending on my poor exhausted D40 to shoot anywhere from 300 to 500 photos at transport was unnerving.

Enter the camera on the right, my new D3400. It’s an economical little thing compared to so many other Nikons, all my lenses will work with it, and I can take my time getting D60 repaired. People ask why I don’t spring for a more professional grade camera. I’m not a photographer. I’m just a girl with a camera who likes to take photos. The more complicated the camera, the more intimidated I am. These little workhorses are the right choices for me.

Unless I win the lottery. =)

Photo Friday, No. 560

Current Photo Friday theme: Golden


I love this bracelet my mother had for her five grandchildren because it’s simple and old-fashioned. In order here, not by age, are charms for Sarah, Gina, Josh, Daniel, and Aaron. Their birthdates are engraved on the backs of the charms. Aaron came along more than two decades after the first grandchild, Daniel, so his is different from the other two boys’ charms. It took me a while to find a place in Houston that carried them, and I don’t remember what year I gave her the charm to complete her bracelet.

Welcome to the new age

One of the days that Jim was here, he, Debby, and I went out to lunch at another new-to-me place, House of Fries, who makes up in burger tastiness what it lacks in ambiance, proving once again that my parents were right when they stopped at unprepossessing eateries on trips because “that’s where the best food is.” While we were there, Debby said it sounded like the restaurant had hacked into my phone’s playlist, which currently leans heavily toward One Republic and Imagine Dragons (from whom I borrowed the title of this post). I told them that while Tom and I were on our trip, I realized that something I’d done to the phone had muted the sound on the car stereo, and Tom said, “It’s okay. We just missed a lot of Coldplay.” Shortly after that story, the restaurant played “Viva la Vida,” so maybe Debby was right. Thieves!

Among other things we did that afternoon was visit our favorite Body Mind & Soul. It’s a seductive store for me because of its serene atmosphere and the beauty of everything there and how invitingly it’s displayed. I want to BUY BUY BUY. As long as I can find one item that entices me and focus on it, I’m usually safe. This time it was a lovely selenite wand in a pencil shape. First, I love pencils, and second, I love the look and feel of this delicate form of gypsum. And I love that when I bought it, the woman checking me out took out her chime (a somewhat larger version of my own) and cleared the crystal. No merchant has ever done that for me before. Nice touch, BM&S!

There are lots of places to read more about the metaphysical properties of selenite on the Internet–GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND. For me, it’s already started being a self-soothing tool for excessive tension in my neck and shoulders and a thankfully brief headache.

I guess this post is sort of a thank you note to Selene, Greek goddess of the full moon, for lending her name and energy to selenite. I do love the moon. And I love the memory of shopping with Debby and Jim.