Lost For Words

It’s been awhile since I’ve written. There is an old saying that silence speaks volumes. That and sometimes there are no words to adequately express the pain in your heart. I had written of my desire to have my elderly father come to live with me. To give a little back to someone who gave me so very much. That won’t happen now. My dad’s condition has worsened. My greatest fear at this point is not seeing him before I lose him. I am living in limbo these days. Our home is still on the market, we have yet to find a new one, I need to be here to sell one home and to find another. That means I can’t go home yet. Stress has become a daily habit.

…I began that draft weeks ago. I honestly wasn’t sure if I would ever finish it, or even write on this blog again, but here I am. Another of the little voices that reside inside my head has told me that the time has come. Big changes in the last few weeks. To begin with I finally made it to Chicago to see my dad. He didn’t look as bad as I expected, but my sisters tell me that what I came home to was a vast improvement from the weeks prior. It was hard enough to leave him again, I am grateful that he was on the mend when I saw him. He is slowly recovering, but I think sadly will never really be the same again. Though there were glimpses of him as he danced about in his wheelchair when he saw the Irish cookies I brought with me. There were also still trances of his boyish humor as he poked fun at those around him, and also his soft heart as he was more worried about hurting the nurses than himself as they tried to pick him up and move him. There were dark moments as well. Moments where he seemed to forget that our mother was gone and we cried again together. I cannot express my gratitude enough to my sisters for being there with him, for doing an outstanding job of watching over him, and for continuing to do so. I talked to him yesterday. He knew who I was, and he sounded even better than last week when I was there. I am happy for every good moment.

On the other home front here in Temecula there are also changes afoot. Finally having our friend who is a realtor represent us, we sold our home. We have found our new home. It isn’t miles away as we had planned, but here in this little city we have grown to love. In the end we couldn’t find an affordable safe neighborhood in Los Angeles. I’m sure there must be some, we just didn’t know how to find them. I’ve looked at more than one hundred houses since October. I was exhausted, depressed and feeling hopeless. Dan and I talked and realized that neither of us has ever lived anywhere as long as we’ve lived in this house, and that for us Temecula is home. We began to search here but again we left feeling like we would never find “our house”. We had discussed all along getting something that needed a little fixing, but nothing we looked at was speaking to us. Our friend suggested an older neighborhood, and there it was. From the moment we walked in the door we knew it was ours. We left the house and told her to stop looking. Leaving this home will still be bittersweet, but it is becoming easier by the day as we begin to plan for our life in our new home. We are excited at making that house into something special just as we did here. It is half the size, and there isn’t a single stair in the place, my knees are beyond happy.

Meanwhile my pledge to begin art again will have to wait. I am packing, and planning, and designing in my head! We have also decided that as we move on we will document our progress. More than likely in a sister blog to this. I am a great believer in fate. It has been a long time since we’ve had good news to share. Hopefully this will be the beginning of better things to come.

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Be Careful What You Wish For

So I dared 2015 to keep me down, and as my title states, be careful what you wish for. 2015 took my dare and ran with it.

I did start a few pieces of art, but nothing to post as of yet. Instead after the New Year’s pat on the back for creating something, I find myself struggling to create. New Year’s Eve my sister had to take our elderly father to the hospital. He has pneumonia, and worse yet has been diagnosed with some severe neurological problems. I won’t go into detail, I respect his privacy, but it is never the less a blow I hadn’t counted on. What is even more difficult is to be so very far away from him. I am not in the financial position to go. I have had some offers from my daughter, and one of my sisters to help, but I am choosing to hope for the best. For me that would mean my dad moving here as soon as he is able. I know it won’t always be easy, but it is the least I can do for him.

My dad worked hard his whole life, and he did it all to give us a better life in this country, his chosen home. I don’t know of anyone who loves Ireland as much as he, but he knew there was a better future somewhere else. He left Ireland for Canada, and Canada for Chicago. When he came to this country he talked his way into a job driving a CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) bus. He had never driven one before, but he had a pregnant wife and two kids, and he needed the work. He always told a hilarious story about driving the bus down an alley in downtown Chicago. He was stopped by a police officer who took one look at my dad, who was clearly very young, heard the brogue, knew he was fresh “off the boat”, laughed and let him go. Later he learned a new trade; he became a painter and wallpaper hanger. He was one of the best. For a number of years he was “the painter in the zoo”, at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. I have fond memories of days spent there. When Jessica was a baby, my sister and I would bring Jess and my nephew John to have lunch with Papa at the Children’s Zoo. Just a few years ago while in his seventies, he cut in a portion of a wall for me. His normally shaking hand as steady as a rock while he held that brush. He often worked two jobs to meet the private Catholic school tuition for my sisters and myself. My mother worked as a waitress from four in the afternoon sometimes until two a.m. to help fill the gaps. I don’t know how they did it, but they did. Below is a photo of the First National Bank of Chicago, sixty stories high. My dad painted the outside of it, once dangling from its side from a safety harness when scaffolding broke. He was fearless, strong, and would go to the ends of the earth to take care of us. Now he is old, frail, and lost without my mother. As a friend said, “Sampson is lost without his Delilah.” How true.

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So 2015, I offer my deepest apologies. Can we start again? I just want my dad to recover, and to hopefully have him spend some time here with me in sunny Southern California. I have lots of plans to keep him busy, including a few little painting jobs that will hopefully bring back some good memories. I love him dearly, and miss him terribly. For now all I can do is wait and hope, and when the time is right to head to Chicago and bring him back with me.

One more photo from happier times. Dad outside the Lincoln Park Conservatory with Jessica as a baby.

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Get well soon Dad, I love you.

 

An Update From The World Of Uncertainty

It’s been one week since I pledged to start another year-long art project. You may be wondering where all the art is. Some of it is in a box, actually boxes, on their merry way to New York in time (hopefully) for my daughter’s birthday on Tuesday. It’s a big one for her, and for me as well. She is turning thirty. (Sorry Jessica, I know you look seventeen, I’m letting the cat out of the bag.) It has only been a week since I turned fifty-five. It honestly didn’t bother me a bit. What does horrify me is the fact that I am about to be the mother of a thirty year old, because I’m not that old! It will also be a first for us. Jessica and her husband, John, moved to New York in June. It will be the first time in thirty years that I won’t be with my daughter for her birthday. That’s a tough one, so I did what any completely insane mother would do…I sent her thirty presents. Some are homemade (the previously mentioned art), some are silly, some are meant to share with John. I was broke when his birthday came around in August, so I wanted to wish him a little belated birthday. I can’t share and ruin the surprise, so….Tuesday.

I am also at the beginning of the holiday show season. You know what that means, if you come in my house you are guaranteed to leave looking like you’ve just left Tinkerbell’s house. Glitter, glitter everywhere! Which brings me to another subject, my house. We had our fifth week of open house. I am attempting to keep the glitter at bay by working outside, but glitter is the infectious disease of craft supplies. It spreads despite all containment efforts. Every time I walked in the house today there was a sparkly dusting in my wake. There isn’t too much I can do, I need to work, I have a show next week. As for the house…it’s still ours. We actually thought that we had some people interested yesterday, but it failed to materialize. I find myself waffling between being happy that I’m not leaving my house yet, and anxious to move on. It feels like our life is on hold for the moment. I keep waiting for things to get better, or at least different. Believe me I know there are so many people who are far worse off, I am grateful for what we have, but I am a bit of a control freak. We are now into seventeen months of drastic life changing circumstances, I think any normal human being would begin to become a bit frustrated. I long for normalcy, or whatever “normal” will turn out to be once the dust has settled.

As for tonight, I am tired, discouraged, impatient, and a little anxious. I am also hopeful. I had a moment a few days ago when a feeling that everything would be OK came over me. I have no explanation, I only know it changed my mood and mindset tremendously, and for that I am particularly grateful.

It rained Friday and for a bit on Saturday. We need it here in Southern California, but it gave us much more than water, we had incredible clouds yesterday, and spectacular color. Of course I had to capture some of it. I have no paintings or drawings to share yet, but a little bit of God’s handiwork instead. Plenty of inspiration for painting, and more than enough beauty to make me happy just to be alive.911 crop

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Beginning The Goodbye

I think I might just see the end in sight. As I said the other day, I’ve been dragging my feet, or in my case, my knee. I didn’t want to move, but as often happens, life sometimes makes our choices for us, this one wasn’t mine to choose. I believe we will be for sale by Wednesday. The last few details to be finished in the coming days. The endless weeks of primping my house as if she were going to her first prom are coming to an end. Freshly painted, immaculately clean (OK, so the cat hair tumbleweeds can be an issue), and dressed to the nines. I’m like a proud mother sending my girl off to the dance, and as any mother can tell you it’s never easy, except this time it will be me leaving my nest behind. I will worry and fret that she is loved and cared for in the same way I did. There has been much life lived in this house. My daughter was married from it, my son grew up in it, both Dan and I lost a parent while living in it. We found security within its walls as our life fell apart. As long as we had our home we felt that everything would be OK.  We celebrated our love and marriage of twenty-five years in it. When we left Chicago (actually the Village of Lindenhurst), where we bought our first home, we left behind a piece of our hearts as well as a sneaky reminder of us. Dan carved our names into the bottom of a post he installed between the living room and dining room, and had the kids sign as well. It remains to be seen if we will leave something so tangible here, but we will leave the ghost of us in its walls . The laughter, the tears, the heartaches, successes, and so much love, are the essence of what a home should be, and they are here, and in our hearts and minds. I only wish for those who follow the same kind of bond, the same kind of love, the same kind of precious memories that make a house a home. I will miss this place, my beautiful garden, but most of all I will treasure the memories that were created here.

 

I have made much of how I will miss my garden. I was looking through old photos tonight and thought I would share what our vision created.  A before and after, an engagement party for Jessica and John that we held there, and finally one garden project that will travel with us. The table that Dan and I built together. We will have to build a new garden around it.

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Facing My Fears About The Future

Here I go again, whine, whine, whine…just kidding.  Tonight is the result of getting what I asked for. I’m alone. These days if you are in sales more than likely you do a little traveling, or a lot of traveling. Dan has been on the road for roughly twenty years. I know some people enjoy travel, and I think he did at first, but after the hundredth hotel room, hotel restaurant dinner, and all the long lonely phone calls with your significant other, it starts to get a little old. I hate when he is away. I hate going to bed without him. I actually spend most of those nights on the couch. Of course these days are better than days of old. (Boy I’m really dating myself here) When Dan started traveling the kids were pretty young and our only means of communication were beepers and pay phones. Thank God some things have changed. There were days when I didn’t leave the house because I was waiting to hear from him. Cell phones certainly make life immensely better.

On the home front things are still not done. It seems like every time I think we are ready to list I find something else that needs to be done. I know I’ve probably done ten times more than need be, but I really care about my home. As I’ve grown older and realized what’s really important in this life I’ve learned to let go of a few things (I just can’t seem to remember what they are in the moment). I’m ashamed to admit that I had more than one occasion where I was upset with Dan or the kids for bringing someone home unexpectedly. I am again my Mother’s daughter. My house must be impeccable for guests. In all fairness to me I believe what I said to them was true, and that is that Jessica and Brian’s jobs were to be good students, Dan was out working, this house was my job. I always said that if someone came here and the house wasn’t clean they wouldn’t leave and say that Brian was a slob, or Jessica was messy, or that Dan’s house was filthy, I felt it was always a reflection on me. I was sure that Brian’s fourteen year old friends were telling their mothers that his mom was a terrible housekeeper. There were of course times when my irritation was more than justifiable. Like the St. Patrick’s Day when I was on the couch in my messy living room with a respiratory infection.  Dan arrived with a limo full of beer salesmen who all needed to use my bathroom. Sick with no makeup and an untidy house and he is bringing in not one, but three or four strangers, really???? It was definitely not a lucky day for my mostly Irish husband that day. I have come to realize that things don’t have to be perfect, but I think that right now I am having a little separation anxiety. I think I have become a little obsessed with making sure the next family that lives inside these walls loves this place as much as we do. It’s time to set another deadline for myself because I fear at this point this house may turn into my next 365 day project. I also think that I might just be dragging my feet a little so I don’t have to leave. The house is clean, it is beautiful, it is time for me to let go. The truth is that I’m a little scared of the future right now. California was a hard move, leaving behind not only friends and family, but my life, the life I knew. What made it easier was having my children. I think I needed them more than they needed me. Now Jessica is in New York, and I will be doing the one thing I said I could never do, I’m moving away from one of my children. Brian will still be living and working in the Temecula area. He will be only fifty or so miles from where we hope to settle, but it will break my heart none-the-less. It’s taken eleven years, but this is my home. If I feel lonely I can call a friend to meet for coffee, or I can run to the cheese store in Old Town Temecula. I’ve befriended the owner and we have on more than one occasion sat in the back of her shop and had some cheese and a glass of wine. There are also the ladies at my favorite antique mall who are familiar with my roaming the aisles. Even things as mundane as grocery shopping where the cashiers are familiar faces. I am starting over once again, and admittedly nervous.  No lifelines this time, just me, myself, and I, trying to find new friends, and new places to go. Maybe time for a little reinvention as well. I don’t mean as in changing who I am, but more about who I was meant to be. New move, new focus on art. I guess I do have one security blanket after all.

A Quick Update

When I was a little girl my favorite show was Bewitched, you know she of the wiggling nose? Samantha only had to twitch that little nose and everything was magically in its place. I need that nose. I need that ability. We are still buried here at Chez Zuckerman. Our dreams of having our house up by August 1st are laughable. There is so much more to do that I am overwhelmed, overworked, over-tired, basically I’m over it. We are currently in the kitchen, packing and cleaning, and did I mention repainting the HGTV recommended neutral palette? The painting is done, but now we have to finish putting the room back together, less cluttered (HGTV), less personal (HGTV), essentially bare, boring, and not us. We have put a few pieces back on the walls, and of course books, books, and more books, but even those are whittled down quite a bit. We are racing the clock, and I fear we are losing. I woke at 4:30 this morning with a list racing through my brain. I jumped up, came down, and didn’t sit back down until nearly 7:30 this evening. (If memory serves me there was some implication that I don’t like work) I’m beat, Dan’s beat, our not so young muscles and joints are protesting, but we can’t stop. We can almost see the finish line. It makes me sad in a way. As tired as I am, once this is done the house goes up. We heard today that houses in this area are going fast, again good and bad. I don’t really want to leave, but we need to.  I’d just like a few more evenings in my beautiful garden before I have to say goodbye. Still no idea where we will end up. Just an update tonight. My fingers hurt as much as the rest of me. Enjoy your Sunday everyone, we’ll be here cleaning and packing. Here’s a shot of my beloved garden.

 

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And something on the vine…I will miss it so

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Breathe

Today was another good day. I think I have resigned myself to the loss of our home. No more crying about what I can’t change. Not that the day I hand over the keys won’t be a difficult one, but I also know that it will be the first day in months that I can breathe. This home I once lavished so much love on has become an insurmountable burden. We can’t move forward or figure out our future until it is gone.

Before I begin to write about today I wanted to write about Sunday. It was a wonderful day and deserves to be remembered. Sunday’s day of rest turned into a very long day, something we hadn’t counted on. Our friend’s flight was delayed, and delayed, and delayed, she didn’t arrive in San Diego until after midnight. I felt for her, it was an incredibly long day of traveling. As for Dan and I, the picnic was wonderful and long overdue. Good food, good wine, and an incredible sunset. Who says my life is bad? (I know… mostly me) For awhile we managed to forget about the not so great stuff in our life and focus on the moment and each other. Then when we realized that we had four hours to kill before the flight came in, we decided to splurge and go to a movie, Begin Again. A very appropriate title for us. It was also another enjoyable two hours that took our minds off our troubles.

I need to step back a day. I had an epiphany of sorts on Saturday. We were at the check out in the grocery store, I glanced over to the register next to us and saw a young family. That’s when it hit me, how much worse this could be. I realize we aren’t the only people in the world going through this, I’ve known that all along of course, but what happened on Saturday was the realization of how much worse this would be if I had kids to feed. I looked at this young couple and their kids and thought about what it would be like for them. This is a nightmare, no doubt, but it is just us, the two of us. There are no little stomachs going to bed empty. It makes you think.

Today… A really good day, another day when I’ve felt really happy for the first time in weeks. I mentioned that I was gathering art supplies for a local foster home. As I sorted through art supplies left over from my own kids days at school, I saw the little individual name tags that I painstakingly taped to each magic marker and pencil. Another epiphany.  There was a pretty good chance that the kids that I was giving the supplies to never had anyone tape their name to a pencil. This foster home is for kids who have been hurt by an adult in their life. It took awhile, but I removed every piece of tape from every pencil and marker. I want these kids to own the supplies, I don’t want them reminded of something that they may have never had. The further I got into cleaning the studio the more I wanted to give. In the end I had four boxes packed to the top, and a couple of bags. When I dropped them off the staff was thrilled. It seems they are in the midst of planning their annual art fundraiser, much of the art supplied by the kids. I had no idea, but when I left there I felt so happy, I felt like I had really done something positive. As I dig my way out of all of the stuff here at home, I’ve figured out a way to catch a breath, by making a difference in the life of a kid. I’ll be looking for more supplies to give away,  its good medicine for what ails me.

A few memories from Sunday to share…

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To Be Continued…???

I’m back. Posting just a little tonight. One of the unfortunate side effects of moving west is leaving our sports teams behind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big sports fan. Actually if I never watched a sporting event again it would be fine with me. I think it has something to do with my childhood. My Dad played professional soccer when I was a kid. Every weekend my Mom would dress my sisters and I in matching dresses, frilly socks, with bows in our hair, and make us sit on the sidelines watching our Dad play. The other kids would be running around enjoying themselves, not us, we were like little matching dolls all sitting in a row. These days I’m just trying to be a supportive wife. The Blackhawks are in the playoffs, and if we want to see them we have to go out, and of course they went into triple overtime. We thankfully left before they lost. So here I am writing at ten when I should be going to bed.

I did manage to eke out a watercolor this afternoon. Still working on my super secret project that I can’t unveil as of yet.  The lovely Theresa came by today and gave me some beautiful tulips. I managed to paint them right before we walked out the door. Tonight is my last night of posting retrospective work. I’m still not sure now that my year is up how I will proceed with this blog. Lots of changes ahead in my life, most of which I can’t reveal quite yet, but I missed writing when I took the night off. I can’t promise myself that I’ll write every day, but I feel like its been something to hang onto in these troubled days since Dan lost his job. I think we know what we have to do. Making the plan is the easy part, jumping into it is a whole other matter. That may seem a little cryptic, but I will explain in time. Meanwhile, the last of my favorite pieces, and the first to head into the future. As for this blog and project? The title says it all.

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photo Riley, one of my cats in pencil.

 

 

 

 

IMG_9711  The children’s play area that we built for the children at our daughter’s wedding.

 

 

 

image  The tabletop I painted based on a vintage French powder tin that I own.

 

 

 

 

Ab aeterno (4)  Altered Art. The photo is from a gravestone in Virginia.

 

 

 

 

005  A piece I did fairly early in the project. An ode to my artistic journey.

Marker on Bristol.

 

 

5 13  My faux brick wall, made entirely from cardboard. My most often pinned pin on Pinterest.

 

 

 

image  Pastel desert scene.

 

 

 

 

 

6 3 3 6 3 (1)  The “before” and “after” of a table I bought for $5. Wood burned design painted with pearl paints.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0831 Theresa’s old kitchen cabinet door. Canvas cut to size to fill the center. I reproduced the business card of the restaurant where Dan and I had dinner in Paris for our 20th wedding anniversary.

 

 

 

 

12 20 Riley once again in pencil.

 

 

 

IMG_3262 The sign I made for my daughter and son-in-law for Christmas. Cardboard and burnt glue.

 

 

 

 

12 25 Custom designed Christmas fairy.

 

 

 

 

IMG_3427IMG_3430  More of the burnt paper and glue on a cardboard pencil box base.

 

 

 

 

2 7 14 (1) Polymer clay sculpting attached to a small cardboard box.

 

 

 

 

2 23 14 (2) Old window transformed into a memo station with mirror.

 

 

 

3 24 14 Another cabinet door.

 

 

 

 

4 4 14 (1) Antiqued mirror with one of my Paris photos tinted sepia.

 

 

 

 

There were a few more pieces that I love, but I’m tired. I think the triple overtime did me in.

 

 

 

 

 

The Price Of Impatience

Twenty four hours have passed. Where is my second box? I didn’t wait long enough. I know, I know, I said I would, but the impatient me just couldn’t wait. I ruined it. I did wait twelve hours, so I thought it would be OK, nope. I had to start again. This time I absolutely promise to wait, maybe even forty-eight hours.

I love spring. When you grow up in a place that has harsh winter weather the first day of spring is cause for celebration. There’s nothing to beat those early warmer days. I’ve lived in Southern California for ten plus years and I still miss the change of seasons. I don’t of course miss the frigid weather, or the ice and snow. I have to admit it is pretty nice to have seventy degree weather in January, but I miss the feelings that come with the change. I think maybe for me spring seemed a little more hopeful when it came after a hard winter. We need new beginnings around here. Let’s hope the new season ushers some in.

In honor of the new season a drawing of an Iris done in watercolor pencil. I chose to paint the background black to make the colors pop.

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Let The Sunshine In

My personal forecast is looking a little gloomy. I need a little sunshine in my life. Yes, I live in Southern California. I’m sure those who live on the East Coast are crying their eyes out for me right about now, but its true. I’m still wheezing, and honestly afraid to go to the doctor. I’m afraid that it just might be pneumonia once again. Meanwhile I am not only hitting the one year mark of this project, but we are closing in on a year of Dan not having a job. On the positive side, the reason it is only gloomy and not a Snoopy-esque “Dark and stormy night”, is that this might just be forcing us into a plan for what we have wanted all along. A business where we can work together. I’ve mentioned our business here, but we had kind of let go of the dream in the last few months. I think worry and stress began to get the best of us. Money as always is the biggest issue, the economy is still not fantastic, and of course the fear of taking the plunge. The one thing I know for sure is that we can do it as long as we are together, because again, it has been a year, and not an argument in sight. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I should rule the world, and while that is still true, I am perfectly happy to let Dan be the boss in our business. We will as always be partners in every way, but I know my strengths as well as my weaknesses (Yes, I do have a few…just a few), I know his as well. There is also an old saying that my Mom often used, “Too many chiefs and not enough Indians”. (Sorry Native Americans, no offense intended)  I want to make sure that the people who work with us know that there is an order to things. A business can’t survive without that. So there’s a plan, kind of, but enough to reassure me that things can change, and a bad situation might just be the ticket to making our dream come true. (Dan, this one was for you.) We need to make our own sunshine…so I did just that.

I love watching Sunday Morning on CBS. In particular I like all the creative ways that they end each segment with a sun done is some creative manner. This is mine, a paper mache sun, painted in acrylic. As for last night’s project, I did some work on it earlier, but fumes began to upset me. There’s always tomorrow.

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