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052513finnyhelp

a day in my life: torturing the pets

photos:
1. Dandelion, trying to escape from the pool
2. Escape attempt 2
3. A rescue? Can you hear him yelling, “hellllllp me!”
4. Finnegan gets upset when I pay attention to Dandelion
5. Finnegan gets upset when he is carried away toward the humiliating new pool
6. Dandelion’s usual pose: A prickly ball.

It was a beautiful Saturday here in Ann Arbor. My husband is staying with his parents this weekend to help care for his mother with Alzheimer’s disease. We will be spending some time there this weekend and sometime at my mother’s house. We are indeed the sandwich generation, but how lucky we are to live close enough to our parents to help if and when they need it.

My son was gone all day at his new job, mowing lawns. He is 15, too young to work most places. Part of me feels like he will have his whole life to work, maybe this is too soon, but I see how proud he is of himself. He seemed pretty happy when he came home, so I guess…

This morning I went for what I call a run, most others would call a trudge. Afterward, I met some friends for lunch at No Thai! (the owner’s name is No). Not my favorite restaurant, but it’s a tradition with this particular group. No Thai! is in Kerrytown, the busiest place in Ann Arbor on Saturday mornings Spring – Fall. It seems as if all of Ann Arbor is at the farmer’s market, and/or Zingerman’s Deli. It felt good sit outside in the sunshine, with friends, in the midst of it all. After that it was home to plant basil, tomatoes and nasturtiums while the pet torturing took place.

I am not the pet torturer. Usually, I am the one being tortured by the pets. My dear doggie, Finnegan, will sit outside the bathroom door and cry as if his heart is broken, never to heal, so full of grief is he at having a closed door between us. You say sweet. I say annoying.

My daughter was the pet torturer today. I recently tried to replace Finnegan’s cracked Tubtrug pool (no, I don’t get reimbursed or sponsored by this or any other product, but I LOVE these Tubtrugs). They only had smaller-sized Tubtrugs at the store, but I was certain Finny would fit. My daughter was dubious. She was right. He sat in it once today and water spilled out along with rolls of his flarb. He looked humiliated, hopped out and would not go near it again….until forced later, by my daughter.

My daughter was cleaning her hedgehog’s cage and thought Dandelion might like a swim. Dandelion does swim, but he did not seem to enjoy it. He doesn’t enjoy much. It was nice to see his face for a change. And his wee little legs and feet!

Dandi’s swimming adventure only lasted a minute. My daughter will stick to bathing him in the sink in warmer water, which he still hates.

Next she decided to try Finny in his new pool again. Do you see the look he was giving me over her shoulder as she carried him to the too-small pool? The same one Dandi was giving me when he was being lifted out of the cold water, “Help me!”

052413brihat

052413BRpants

052413AR

I’m not sure where this week went. You know exactly what I’m talking about. It was just Friday and here is Friday again, and a holiday weekend.

“Boo” to time going so fast; “Hooray” for the holiday weekend.

Some things, in addition to a holiday weekend, that are making me happy this week:

1. Hats by Pooka Queen, to rival any worn by princesses at royal weddings.
This California based artist is an Ann Arbor girl making a name for herself in the west coast fashion world, and soon the rest of the world. It is hard to say which is more beautiful, the art or the artist.
Visit her web site and etsy site for more exquisite pieces including hats, jewelry and accessories.
http://www.etsy.com/shop/pookaqueen
http://www.pookaqueen.com

2. I hate shopping for pants. I even hate the word, “pants”. That whiny short “a” sound. It’s grating.
It’s difficult for me to get a good fit and one that doesn’t emphasize features that I would like to de-emphasize. BUT, this is the happy part, these Banana Republic Sloan Fit slim ankle pants work for me. I ordered them in a long so they are just slightly longer than those in the image above (I’m 5’9″). I wondered about returning them for ankle length, but my daughter says no, the longs make my legs look very long, so I’m keeping them.

3. I don’t have a lot of time for watching television, but, Arrested Development – SUNDAY! I am nearly giddy about it. (If you don’t watch, this where to find the never nude)

4. I had dinner with my former mother’s of daughter’s group this week. The group was put together by a clinical social worker, who led the monthly discussion of parenting daughter issues and eventually grew into parenting of daughters and sons and marriage therapy and personal therapy…whatever we need to talk about. This group, these women, made me a much calmer (I didn’t say “calm” I said “calmER”), better parent and helped me through some very difficult situations. I started attending when my, now 19 year old, daughter was 5. We stopped meeting a few years ago when most of the daughters had graduated from high school. Oh how I miss this group!

5. Convos With My 2 year Old video on youtube. I’m looking forward to more. Funny…and creepy.

Happy weekend to you!

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photos:
1) toys on my office windowsill
2) my old typewriter, I need to get a ribbon for it
3) wooden bunnies, i love they way the two pieces fit together, so simple, i also love the shadows, this was taken for a hard shadow assignment, but it also demonstrates shallow depth of field.

I took my camera outside at lunchtime last week to shoot this beautiful campus in its springtime glory. It took me more than a minute to remember all of the photography skills I had just learned in my photography class, which only ended a couple of weeks ago. Use it or lose it, I guess. So I will continue to review my photo 111 lessons here, with you, my unwilling pupil.

Shallow depth of field was an early assignment, which I felt like I had some success with. (I ended a sentence with a preposition right there. I know.) Shallow depth of field is used when you want an image where only a small part of the photo is in focus. See above.

The aperture is wide open for these shots, which is really counter intuitive isn’t it? You would think that opening up your lens means more light (yes) and more of the image in focus (no).

What I really like with shallow depth of field is that you can still get a good shot on a gray day without a flash or strobe or tripod, because your lens is wide open. Plus I like the way it can emphasize what you want to emphasize in a shot, and leave a little part of the story to unfold as the viewer makes it out.

One girl in my class took a beautiful close up shot of a blond Barbie doll’s face, chin titled sideways and slightly forward, blond pony tail high and sassy, not a hair out of place, lips slightly parted, a cheerful, vacuous look on her flawless face as her brilliant blue eyes stare off into space. The contrast of the blond barbie on the black background was really lovely…but then…there is something in the nearly black background… another Barbie…is she lying down? no wait! She is naked…and her hands and feet bound! What?! Naughty blond Barbie! Maybe that pretty little head is not filled with thoughts of shopping, the dream house and Ken after all. (Wait! I just realized those are the thoughts that fill MY head…well not Ken.)

052013philspectorletter

052013hulapackage

052013zoeyedgarletter

052013grumpyreturnthey joy of snail mail

I love receiving real mail; handwritten, personal and delivered from my mail carrier. I love recognizing who the letter is from by the handwriting, before I even see a return address or name.

I, like everyone else, rarely write letters anymore, occasionally a birthday card or a thank you note, but not nearly enough of either. Email, a phone call or text is so much faster. Being in constant electronic contact with people often leaves little to write about in a real letter. Still, even if it contains no real news, I just love having the writer’s handwriting in my hands, seeing it, seeing them.

Oh so many years ago, when I was home for the summer from college, My friends and I wrote weekly, detailed letters to each other, decorating the envelopes with cartoons, pictures from magazines and our own illustrations. Sometimes just folding a page of the National Enquirer or the Weekly World News into an envelope and adding a stamp and address. (“Hilary Clinton Gives Birth to Alien Twins” complete with photograph.) I loved the creative process that went into making those letters and envelopes as much as the joy of receiving them.

When my daughter started college this year I revived my letter writing and envelope decorating practice. Not as creatively as I did when I had endless amounts of time, but enough to feel a tiny bit creative. With my daughter home and no longer in need of my letters, I hope to keep this practice up with family and friends living too far away, including, of course, those college friends. Although I am in contact with all of them electronically, what I lack in interesting content, I hope to make up for in interesting envelope decor!

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what’s making me happy this week: 05.17.13

photos:
1. paris apartment, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/ (complete url below)
2. susan b. anthony, and likeness, http://www.jaimemoorephotography.com (complete url below)
3. beauty in sunglasses, reposted from MasonBentleyStyle.com (complete url below)

1. Spring and Summer have arrived in Michigan! The trees are in bloom. It has been in the 80s (26/27C?) with a gentle breeze. We have the windows open at night and I sometimes get to fall asleep listening to Tiger’s baseball on the radio. I want time to stand still right now.

2. Speaking of time standing still…get happy looking at the photos of a Paris apartment that has been locked since the owner fled Paris during the Nazi occupation. She lived out her life elsewhere, never returning to this apartment. The apartment was opened and photographed after her death this year. Everything in it is precious.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2323297/Inside-Paris-apartment-untouched-70-years-Treasure-trove-finally-revealed-owner-locked-fled-outbreak-WWII.html

3. These portraits and this post did make me happy…(scroll down past the wedding photography):
http://www.jaimemoorephotography.com/2013/05/09/not-just-a-girl/
…but after thinking about it, it would make me happier if we just didn’t dress up our girls in costumes for photos, and just took their pictures as they are…

4. Speaking of portraits, I love this post (and all of her posts) and these photos posted on the MasonBentleyStyle.com blog which features advertisement photos for, “Karen Walker’s sunglasses based on the inspirational ladies from Ari Seth’s Advanced Style Blog.”
http://masonbentleystyle.com/2013/05/17/what-do-you-see-2/

5. I have seen more and more cartoons poking fun of the little stick figure family decals on the backs of cars (and when I say car, you know I mean minivan). This was the best one I’ve seen:
http://xkcd.com/946/

6. Finally, the dear lady at The Vintage Postcard Blog nominated me for a Pirate’s Admiration Award, which I will properly acknowledge this weekend. Like her, I knew nothing about the award. I cannot find any history or origin of the award on Google, but it seems to be an award, motivated by kindness, to acknowledge and support bloggers. You get nominated, you feel the glow, you play it forward. While the award does not include a trip around the world, or a contract with, well, anyone…to know that someone, even one person, out there reads and likes my blog— makes me happy.

Happy weekend! I hope you have blue skies and sunshine wherever you are.

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I was looking at photos for a quick post and found these. Puppies. Cheap shot. I know.

The first two were taken in Wisconsin when I was visiting my daughter. We were leaving a Target and my daughter saw signs that said “Puppy Sale” in a pet store window. She asked, “Do you think they have actual puppies?” I said, “Likely just puppy supplies, but no harm in looking.” I was right, and I was wrong. They had puppies, but you know what she is saying with her eyes, “I NEED him Mom. Please?!”

The last one is my handsome Finny modeling what my son calls, “shameware.”

Can you see Finny’s wonky smile? So few teeth. So many directions, rows and angles. My neighbor Maddie was sitting outside on the grass petting him the other day, staring into his mouth. I said, “Are you enjoying Finny’s teeth Maddie?” She replied with a little wonder and dismay, “There’s just so much going on in there!”

Back to the shameware. The morning of our trip to visit my daughter for her birthday I left a large bag of gifts on the floor by the kitchen door so I wouldn’t forget to pack them. Then I left for work. I came home two hours later to drop my son off and he motioned me to come into the house— the bag of gifts was empty and ripped and the gifts were all over the kitchen floor. Only one was ripped apart. Decimated.

There was no food among the gifts so I had no idea why he got into the packages. I realized the one he ripped apart was a gift from another Ann Arbor mom to her daughter, Sarah, who attends the same school as my daughter. She had asked me to deliver it to Sarah and had included another identical looking gift box for my daughter. I knew the one for my daughter contained a t-shirt, so I assumed the identical package for Sarah was also a t-shirt.

As we searched for the t-shirt from the torn apart package, my son noticed something like black dirt on my dog’s cushion—TEA! There hadn’t been a t-shirt in Sarah’s package. It was tea. Which my dog had consumed. Yum.

Since my old dog is now deaf, he cannot be shamed by the disappointed quality of my voice when I try to scold him. He just stands and happily wobbles his donut tail. My son decided to make shameware out of the bag Finny had torn apart. When that fell off too easily, my son fashioned shameware out of a smaller bag. Perfect fit.

Does Finny look shamed to you? Not to me either. More like plotting to make a dash for his cushion so he could lick up the rest of that tea.

Later I emailed Sarah’s mom to apologize and she said no problem, but in addition to the tea, there had been chocolate covered espresso beans in the package. Yes, he ate those too.

It would likely have killed a lesser dog, with better teeth, but Finny has survived eating a pound bag of m&ms (nearly killed my husband though, I was out of town) and a bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups, foil wrapping and all. I didn’t even take him to the vet for this one. I had to leave town after all…

(Don’t worry! He seemed pretty normal when we left at 5pm, and we had a dog sitter who I checked with several times over the weekend. Finny is alive and well and overweight according to last week’s visit with the vet. And yes, I do realize that if anyone should be wearing shameware…)

back in the hammock

May 15, 2013

051513sassyhammock051513hammocktreesback in the hammock

We have had a hammock in our backyard forever. I think it started as a first father’s day gift to my husband, which is a mean joke since he is the person in our family who uses it least.

We usually have to buy a new hammock each year, as the squirrels have a great fondness for chewing the rope to bits. Our current hammock is up for the season and is going on its third summer. Haha squirrels! One point for the humans! (Though it’s likely the squirrels may be avoiding it because it’s made from some unknown toxic substance so maybe, Haha humans!)

I cannot stand to just lie in a hammock, and say, nap, or read. I am not wired that way. I used to give my kids terror rides in it when they were little, which they have loved. (I am wired that way.)

Every now and then, over the years, someone says to another, “Want to go lie in the hammock?” And on warm summer night at midnight, they lie in the hammock, side by side holding hands, or head to foot, always complaining of the foot, listening to far off sirens and dogs barking and doors closing in our little town, trying to see stars through the heavy canopy of the giant maple that hold one end of the hammock.

Usually the two in the hammock would be my daughter and me.

Last August, on a very emotional morning when she said goodbye to her little bedroom, house, backyard, town and family for her first year away from home, the last thing we did before she left was to lie together in the hammock, side by side, holding hands.
That was hard. She was so sad and so uncertain.

And look at her now. She conquered her freshman year and all of the challenges it threw at her, which were many. She made the dean’s list both semesters. She sang, studied science, made new friends and learned what it’s like to attend a very small college (1,200) in a very small town.

And now she is home.

And we are back in the hammock. Side by side.