Monday, October 14, 2013

My breath catches in my chest. I am paralyzed with a sadness that I did not know was coming. My brother, the man I only met briefly at our father's funeral in 1983 and not again until 1995, has passed away. Suddenly. Unexpectedly after a brief, vicious bout with lung cancer. Damn lung cancer. Damn all cancers.

He didn't tell me, my sister in law said, because he did not want to spoil my trip to Paris. He was thinking of me. This was his way, silent, stoic; much like our father.  It was a loving and kind thing for him to do and that makes me cry even more. I am a bundle of nerves and emotion. smiling because of this act of love, crying because I will miss him. I liked having a brother who looked like me. Who had memories beyond mine and different than mine. He knew my mother before she was married to our dad. He had different stories to tell of both my mom and dad. He had a life's story far removed from mine as he grew up far away in remote Alaska and I in the countryside of Pennsylvania. He dreamed of retiring there back where our whole family began. He was going to make a trip to Pennsylvania and reacquaint himself with the memories and place of his very young youth.

It is different to get to know your brother as an adult. Your backgrounds are complete, you are joined by genetics only. A friend insisted that I reach out to him, decades ago when on a trip to Alaska. I was hesitant, not sure if he would want to meet me. He was the last surviving half sibling I had. We met in a restaurant. Had dinner and found we were so much alike. We told stories. We talked about our father. I kept wanting to reach out and hold his hand, he being so much like the dad I both loved and feared.

We met every so often over the next bunch of years. I took Phil and Jacob to Alaska to meet him. I delighted when Jacob liked him and nearly passed out with delight when Phil said we looked alike, acted alike and even spoke words the same way. Our mannerisms betrayed us as siblings even when our lives didn't let us live as siblings. I had a fuller heart. I had family. Someone I could begin to build a past and a future with.

I am blessed to have had these times and memories with him. To have met one another and known each other. To be happy that all along he had followed me through my blog and achievements, that however briefly we were brother and sister.

Still I am sorrowful in my loss. Now, I must figure out what to do with his absence and maybe I will have to make that Pennsylvania trip to see for him what he has missed. Maybe this is the push I need to mend fences with other siblings however painful that journey may be. I have already spoken with my other brother, the brother of my youth and felt comfort in his voice. Maybe in this ending there is a beginning.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


One of the things I looked forward to doing on my trip to Paris, was visiting the catacombs. The bones of six million people are arranged there, 22 meters below the earth. I was not however, prepared for the nearly anxiety inducing experience of 130 small circular stairs descending into nearly total darkness and I was equally unprepared for the ascending 83 narrow, wet with slippery clay, steep circular stairs that brought me into welcomed daylight.

I had hoped to feel some of the energy, the stories from seeing so many earthly remains in one place. Unfortunately, with the crowds, camera flashes and noise, I was unable to have a quiet, centering moment to feel anything. It was however, a worthy experience and a place that I am happy to have seen.

Oh, and climbing those stairs down and up? Priceless victory for exercise challenged me!
The entrance.

It was actually this dark in most places in the tunnels.

Small villages were carved into tunnel recesses. 

Coming up into some light before the dreaded spiral staircase.

Piled and carefully arranged to the ceilings.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Last month was crazy busy as I prepared all my shops and gallery for my trip to Paris. So much to do that it was like having four children demanding my attention at all times. Plus I could not neglect my family or this or that or anything else. Anyhow, I made it to Paris for eleven days of sightseeing, fabulous food, good conversation, relaxing knitting time, late afternoon studio drawing and general all around down time. My first real vacation since my honeymoon 19 years ago.

C'est moi, in hot & humid Paris.
I found many things about Paris that I loved and many things that caused me to pause and think about the bigger picture in life. I am still amazed at how interconnected we all are with the internet yet how different and unique we each truly are. This uniqueness is reflected in our locations. I knew I was not at home anymore during these eleven days but I also felt so interwoven with the local people and lifestyle.

I feel refreshed, despite having a nasty cold and ready to face new challenges in my businesses. I am inspired by the shops I have seen, the paintings I viewed, the scenery that seduced me. Here then, are the first few Parisian pictures and thoughts.

Sweet details on a Paris shop door.

Pretty little display windows.

A story was told in this window.