housesitting, iconic, and OCD button sorting

I held back from calling this entry “Red Buttons”

I was sitting at my mom’s house waiting for her to get back from Europe with my brother. It’s a journey they’d been planning more years than I can imagine, and advance word from a layover phone call suggests it was splendid.

Spain and France. 9 days or so.

I’ve been house sitting all this time and enjoying the wealth of visual food to devour at my mom’s joint (the pincushion, for example.)

A friend came over one night and asked if she was Buddhist because of all the fat, bald, gold characters adorning mantles and side tables. Truth be told, she has lots of things that suggest influences from all over the world, many religions, and no particular time period.

I joked in reply that she was iconic, not Buddhist.

I say things like this, even when I am completely sober.

Wordplay aside, she seems drawn to the strongest visual elements from different cultures, creating a mash-up that somehow works in a cohesive way.

Apart from all these curiosities, there’s a bunch of… assets. Stuff to make other stuff: Racks of paper, bolts of fabric, boxes of ribbon, jars of buttons. This, just from what I can see. I dare not dig too deep in closets, lest I find myself pinned under the weight of boxes piled up to the ceiling in Jenga-like fashion.

I’d say this is odd, but I’m the one who pulled the jar of buttons to the porch and sorted them by color for no other reason than it felt good, and I’m trying to take more red pictures.

Categorized as Family


…at my sister’s

I spent Easter having a fine dinner at my sister’s place with her kids, my nephew’s fiancé and some family friends.

My sis made like 80 dinner rolls, which was just enough. Coupled with ham of several varieties, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, and other vittles.

I didn’t get any exceptionally good pictures of her newly painted dining room and kitchen, which is sad because it all looked so good.

After dinner was spent lounging in the living room with movies and napping.

A big hat tip to my sis for making it happen, and another one for her daughter who turns sixteen today.

Categorized as Family


Some good things, semi-related:

My mom’s newly remodeled kitchen is operational, and it is awesome. This means potential cake.

Two different couples from dinner club got engaged this past week. Solid bet for future cake.

A few birthdays recently celebrated. For a particular 3 year old, this meant a cake with a bunch of plastic Disney® characters stuck in the icing last night.

Oh, and this just in… another couple from dinner club just announced they’re expecting their first whippersnapper this fall. It’s hard to bring the cake theme through, but it seems reasonable.

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tacos in my pockets

My mom, the hand model

Yesterday I put tacos in my pockets and snuck them into the theater. The one o’clock show overlapped with lunch.

“I can’t believe you did that” my mom whispered as the previews began.

Transamerica was entirely enjoyable. I think Kim summed it up well with her thoughts.

Afterward we stopped by Hobo Books, a relatively new independent bookstore that opened in the neighborhood. My mom said there were cigar boxes for sale. And there were, along with walls lined with new and used books, magazines, coffee and tobacco.

Inside the bookstore

I picked up Candy Freak (because it’s about one of my favorite topics), The Sweet Hereafter (I’ve been told it’s a movie I should check out—and it was cheap), and a armload of cigar boxes (which I hope to transform into dice games.)

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My mom and brother did up their place real nice for the holiday. I mean real nice. They’d be a great addition to the window dressing team at Bergdorf Goodman.

PhotosS’more photos of the decor

My favorite roast beef sandwiches and mincemeat cookies around the fire while exchanging gifts. Mom surprised me with a Chip Kidd book I’d long since forgotten about.

I was exhausted by this point and loaded up a nifty new backpack and headed out.

Though I didn’t get around to everything I had hoped to accomplish, the holiday was (insert some word that means warm, nice, loving, simple).

Categorized as Family

Christmas Eve

My Great Nephew

Went over to my sister’s place and snuck a sampling of cookies throughout the afternoon.

Got to see my great nephew walk up a storm and grin just as much. Big bright eyes on the fella. He’s no idea what all the hoopla about the holiday is yet.

Just as good.

He then napped soundly and gave the adults time to catch up.

Always fun spending a slice of time with my sis, niece, and nephews. I need to get back over there when there isn’t a flurry of events and throw down some cards with ’em.

Headed home and frantically tore my place apart trying to find photo paper to print out images from the year to put into a book for my mom. Went to bed as the sun came up and ate all the cookies I had left out for Santa.

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My Grandmother’s service

Outside the funeral home centre

We had an informal gathering this past Saturday at Spring Grove cemetery. Oddly enough, the same place I visited with my Grandmother in 2004.

My mother and aunt had decorated the nicely appointed room with Christmas decorations and small notes giving insight to her life. A bowl of buckeyes with ribbons, stacks of books, a slideshow on the tv, open boxes of chocolates, her quilt inspired by a trip to Hawaii, soft holiday tunes in the background, and the urn topped with a Blenko glass ball.

A lunch reception followed in an adjoining space with favorite recipes from my Grandmother.

It was all very warm.

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The tie and the photo in the tin

It’s snowing here in Cincinnati tonight. Real nice big flakes. The fridge is stocked and I’m not checking work email for the evening. So I’m sifting through things and photos and I wanted to put down a few thoughts that have surfaced lately.

Visiting my Grandmother in the home over Thanksgiving, I stared at a dresser that sat across from her bed.

Along with those three drawers and the night table, there wasn’t much room for anything else.

My Grandmother collected things. She took photos of flowers and footprints in the snow. She even took snapshots of the TV (and we’re not sure if that was an accident or intended—though she was also the sort to write down who and when on the back.)

My mother made her a dress and my Grandfather a tie one year. The tie was saved a tin, along with a photo of them wearing the homemade goods.

She saved newspaper clippings and matches. Stacks of books. Quilts. Fabric swatches cut out in quilt patterns yet assembled.

Lots of things.

Those drawers would not have been enough.

And perhaps this thought alone is one of the strong undercurrents of wanting her to be well enough to return home. Her home that she’d whittled down to a jam packed bedroom and storage in the basement at my mom’s house.

Three drawers. I keep thinking.

And yet there’s a small sense of gladness (even though I require a moving truck these days) that I could whittle my “stuff” down to a laptop and a wireless connection. This line of thinking brings up a host of other issues though. Host being a formidable word.

(continuing tangent)

The conversation began with Jim and the boys a while ago, and surfaced again in this post, “When I’m 94.” In short, what will become of all this digital stuff when we’re gone?

Hopefully cached somewhere, on servers maintained.

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Lorena Imogene Barbour (1922-2005)

I spent part of this evening watching as mom, aunt and brother sifted through boxes upon boxes of my grandmother’s photos.

Her vitals had fallen yesterday, and the lady from hospice said it wouldn’t be much longer. There wouldn’t be time to bring her home. Family was called and we came to this foreign place to hold her hand.

How much thinner she was from just Thanksgiving.

How the structure of her face was visible.

How each of us would take turns bedside.

I looked at her more intently than perhaps I had ever looked at her before. Her skin, so radiant and clear. Her hair, although in disarray, was thick and mostly not gray. I wished selfishly for those genes.

She squeezed our hands and said things. I hovered inches from her mouth to hear the words, “It’s all been so wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful…” trailing off as she would close her eyes and give the hint of a great smile. Like she just had the best lemonade in the heat of summer.

These moments happened between abrupt starts of wide eyes and clutching. Clutching her robe, the oxygen line, the air. And then to sleep.

She passed shortly after the final family member left for the night. Peacefully.

Categorized as Family