Which way does the wind blow in Rockport?
I have been away. My apologies. Our father, after a long struggle with his heart, finally passed away last week. He was at home, in my sister's house, as he had made it clear he wanted to be. I arrived on Monday afternoon, and he left the world in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. He was non-responsive the entire time, but we were with him. We kept vigil and there was somebody with him almost continuously. We talked to him, to each other. There were moments that we laughed and moments when we sang. We were told by the angels at Hospice that hearing is the last thing to go, so we tried our best to keep it real. My sister gave him updates from the Texas Rangers baseball game. We each took a turn talking to him one-on-one.
I have written some thoughts about the week. It sounds morbid, and perhaps it is, but there was something beautiful about the experience. I wasn't quite certain what that something was, so I write it down and paint the picture in words to be able to look at it, and contemplate. To be able to remember how it felt – that almost-religious experience of being with him.
I don't anticipate that I'll publish that piece; I'm writing it for myself. The time I've taken with it has helped through the grieving. Earlier this week I emerged from my bedroom – from the house – and blinked as the unfamiliar bright sunshine fell on my face. It was like coming out of adoration during the religious retreat that I was part of a few years ago. Though it felt good to be back in the sunshine and to be back among people, something fundamental inside of me had changed. Even if it was a good change, it would take some time and contemplation to understand.
I will be back in the saddle again this coming week.
Thank you, and bless you all.
A nice cup of coffee makes the world a better place. Even the anticipation of it begins the process of distressing for me. Without thinking about it, I create a time and a space to appreciate it, which adds as much - if not more - to the overall coffee experience.
I'm house-sitting for my brother. This means that I get to live in his beautiful, ginormous house in northwest Austin for over a week, and I get to be with his beautiful animals. (They tend to run away when I'm not looking, but I'm trying not to hold anger toward them for it.) Right now I'm sitting at the kitchen table facing the windows along the back of the house, which looks out onto a beautiful, green golf course. They don't have privacy fences; they have sturdy, yet minimal, iron fences that allow you to look out and appreciate the view. Between me and the golf course is a swimming pool in the back yard, lined with limestone. I see a deer wandering by alone. They usually come by in groups of five to ten deer.
This also means that I don't see my own cats, and I kind of miss them. My house is much smaller, and far more crowded, but it's home. We lost one of our cats this week, and I wasn't there to be a part of it. She was ancient – like my brother's dog, like most of our cats. It's only a matter of time.
Ancient Dog, Sadie, is outside sniffing the air. She doesn't see so very well any more, and her hearing is not what it once was. But, she manages to get around her area. She knows the back yard and she knows the house. As far as I've seen she doesn't get lost. After the first day of my being here, she stopped eating. She would drink the water that I added to the food, but she didn't eat much, if anything. She tends to go on hunger strikes when her family is out of town. She gets a little depressed. I tried moving her food to the master bedroom, where she spends most of her time. No change. She was sleeping a lot, and she seemed so frail as she hobbled along. I decided to try getting her some canned food and mixing that with her kibble. (I did not ask my brother or his wife about this. I'm Uncle Earnie and I'm allowed to spoil my nieces.)
Bam. She ate everything. She was pushing the bowl around licking the bottom of it. Now she's trotting around the house like a champ and there is no remnant of the fragile creature that I saw before. Either I'm a hero, or I'm in a world of trouble for creating this canned-food monster. Either way, I had to do something. The poor thing was so weak, and she wouldn't eat.
Now it is dark outside and I need to close the blinds for the evening. I took a swim in the twilight with Sadie inspecting the perimeter of the yard. I've spoiled Mister, the cat, as well with extra canned food. He, too, has lost too much weight. (This is the same cat who spent the day in the gutter last year.) I miss my cats, though. I miss my home. I miss Barry. It's nice to miss home. I like being here with my brother's animals, and it reminds me how much I like my own place and my own animals.
Today was supposed to be a day of writing. I wrote some this morning, then went to lunch with some friends. That put me to sleep for the best part of the afternoon. When I woke up I wrote some more on my story, then I started this contemplation. I suppose that technically I am still writing, but it's not getting me closer to finishing my story. Tomorrow is another day.
Now, it's time to turn in for the evening.
If you've followed this blog, you'll know that we enjoy visiting thrift stores. This is not always a healthy endeavor for admitted hoarders. We have more dishes and such than we have space for – but then, we already did before we ever discovered these places. Austin has some excellent stores, each with their own personality. Next-To-New has serious furniture and dinnerware and I have quite a nice collection of photos of the Tranniquins at Top Drawer.
Every once in a while we'll come across an objet d'art that we recognize. I always enjoy finding in these thrift stores old pieces that my friends have made (even if this might tend to indicate [or confirm] that the clientele for contemporary art is retiring, downsizing and/or going home to meet their maker.) We found a pigeon that my friend, Glo Coalson, had made about 20 years earlier. He was cracked, but he was a Glo Coalson.
Eventually, we came to see this as a milestone for the artist. We came across a piece made by Jason Hooper, who began working as a professional artist full-time relatively recently. It kind of felt like he had 'made it', because his work was surfacing in these stores. Another friend of mine – a weaver – found a garment of hers at Goodwill. (She had sold it originally for $400 and Goodwill had it marked at $12.) We now have a quest: Barry always checks the jewelry sections when we go to one of these stores, just to see if his work has made it here yet. (His work is already on the black market in Dallas. Two clients have reported that they had Barry's jewelry stolen there.)
So, I have mixed feelings about finding books by my hero, G. M. Malliet, at a used bookstore. On the one hand, I know that authors aren't generally paid royalties from their books that are sold in 2nd-hand stores. But, is this a milestone for her? Surely this is an indication that she is selling well enough to be able to have landed in a Half-Price bookstore. I'm excited, regardless. She may not make any money for these three copies that are here, but I feel that this speaks volumes for her career.
Fortunately for me, I already own all of these books, so I wasn't faced with any moral dilemmas. I very much believe in financially supporting artists that I like, though I have been known to buy the occasional book from a used bookstore. I have this romantic notion that I'll find the Next Big Book for me there – one that will make all of my literary dreams come true. I usually stumble across gems by accident. One can hope...
I'll leave you with this bit of advise: If you think that drinking 16 oz of espresso is a good idea – even if you REALLY think it's a great idea and have visions of being so very productive afterward – don't. Just don't do it. Trust me.