The Family Tree of Life … wait, what?

The Family Tree or The Tree of Life … whatever you call it the symbol is deeply embedded in religious and spiritual beliefs. You will find it popular for genealogy and history buffs, elementary school home projects and with artists of all kinds.

The definition is as wildly varied as is each tree. Rarely depicted in exact form or feature. A basic Google search brought me the following definition:

“In this way, the tree of life is a symbol of a fresh start on life, positive energy, good health and a bright future. As a symbol of immortality. A tree grows old, yet it bears seeds that contain its very essence and in this way, the tree becomes immortal. As a symbol of growth and strength.” unknown

I’m sure you have heard the joke about the family tree being full of nuts. It’s generally the absolute truth and is especially for my own. A few weeks before my epic trip up north my mom sent me photo which would make a permanent mark on us all, literally.

My phone was blinking with a message waiting as it often does, only this time it was my mother. Some people might roll their eyes or sigh seeing another text from mom but not me. I love them. I guess after years of not speaking little blinking lights seem to have the positive power to keep all the old darkness away.

This time she sent a photo.

She had found a piece of jewelry online, or I think that was what it was. I have since lost the texts, little did I know such a simple thing would turn into a worthy story. I don’t remember the words but I complimented the piece. I had just purchased something similar while on vacation. I had hung it in my kitchen window days before our conversation. An interesting coincidence. The symbol she shared was a Triple Tree of Life design.

Whether it was she or I who decided it would look amazing as a tattoo I do not recall. I will give her credit as she is the visionary among us.

She decided we should all get this tattoo of 3 trees and set about to sketch it. She proclaimed her tree to be the middle and my sister and I would be to the left and to the right. Her image came to live in a circle and she began to add leaves separating each mature trunk and expansive branches. She asked what leaf shape I preferred and I chose the hearts. My sister would be assigned the scroll shape leaves.

And so it was shared and agreed, we would get these trees symbolically tattooed to our individual bodies to represent the true roots and togetherness despite growing into separate entities.

That would be that except for the fact that now we needed an artist willing to do the same design on separate occasions and for a reasonable price. Oh, and a tiny detail, I happen to live in another state, they each in separate cities. I was going to be in town for a short window so my appointment had to be scheduled in advance.

Like a true champ mom had her appointment first. I wish I could have been there but alas the miles add up and I wouldn’t be there for weeks.

Second my sister got hers, a little larger than ours, much as she does everything. She laughs louder, is a little taller, and has bigger chickens. (It’s not a competition, sis.)

When it was finally my turn I hobbled in, limping on a broken foot with the fam. Mom, Dad and my sweetheart in tow. For the record I didn’t know the foot was broken at the time, not that it would have slowed me down any more than it did. I didn’t need the entire clan for support either but I won’t lie … I did enjoy the entourage.

Mom introduced me to the artist as the daughter from out-of-state and reminded him she promised to bring me in. Now here I was. She was so excited, proud even to be presenting her family to the man with the needle gun.

It’s a special gift she has, to walk into an establishment and become the official honorary host. She takes charge in the mom-est way ever and she does it so well. She shows us off and takes ownership even though we are moms ourselves and tower over her in height.

It might also be a red-head thing. It’s sort of endearing.

I was invited into the artists chair and I happily plopped down, arm up on the rest and head back taking it all in. There was a glass case to the left against the wall with piercing jewelry in it. On top of the case was an entire brown bear skin with yellowed teeth and claws. The bear skin seemed shockingly out-of-place yet so at home there perched menacingly about 8 feet in the air. I didn’t ask about the bear but may next time.

My eyes shifted to a back room which I suspect was the piercing room. I suggested mom get her nose pierced. She didn’t miss a beat and declined. It was hard to rattle her.

We continued to chit-chat with the artist about my current ink, where I got it and that it was unique. My mom, from her seat in the corner, pipes up with a question. Asks what the oldest person the artist had ever tattooed.

Good question.

Guy covered in ink and wearing purple gloves continues to gently press into the skin on my arm and pauses before he shares his reply.

He begins the story with how he had to help an elderly lady into the tattoo chair. A frail, tiny old woman. He might have said she had an oxygen tank or a walker or something, painted the picture of tiny sweet grey hair granny type. He got her into the chair and she advised she wanted a touch up tattoo. Not kidding. She wanted to touch up the roses on her earlobe. He described being scared to break her, being so gentle as to not hurt her.

She was a champ.

I can only hope to be that bad-ass someday.

Mom was intrigued. She asks if it is harder to tattoo old people skin (yep, said that) and she mentions something about being worried she might be too old for tattoos. It is possible I guess she was fishing for a compliment. I don’t know. Forgive me, Ma, if the words are wrong there but this story is as I recall it. Also it happened.

She got good news however you look at it, she wasn’t the oldest he had ever tattooed (he laughed at her for that) and she was in the fairly young range of people who come in for ink. I think she blushed but it was hard to tell from the reflection in the glass case. I was still concentrating on the insanely large teeth on that bear skin.

He went on to say with plenty of moisture skin will be good for tattooing for a long time to come. She is probably sitting somewhere with some Skin So Soft right now. I know I have upped my moisture game. Old lady skin be damned.

It was over quickly and I marveled at how beautiful my new tattoo was. We paid and tipped well and made our way back for the party that afternoon.

We ate and drank and took pictures and ate some more. We showed off our new ink in singles and in triple to anyone willing to smile and nod.

Our tattoos are a symbol of who we are. Joined at the root but each branched to our own. My mother with her leaves, which symbolize for me life and change. My sisters scrolls symbolizing what I see in her as great wisdom, boundless intelligence and strength. Lastly my hearts, which for me represent love unconditional with a notation on some limbs a barren place for broken hearts for which I am grateful to never forget.

*Thank you to my mother for designing such a beautiful tribute to family, forgiveness and bond. Also for feeding us constantly when we visit. Those baked beans though … yum.

*Thank you to my dad who has kept us safe since we were wee girls. That’s what dads do. They also make safety videos so you don’t hurt yourself playing in the yard.

*Thank you to my sister for being ever-present in my life even when we don’t speak. Also for the moonshine that tasted like paint thinner. You’re the best sister I’ve ever had.

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Legally wed (almost) a year. Here is the recap …

It was this time last year that our home state made our marriage legal. We were so excited, it was like a second wedding day. Sorta like that … but without rain, stress, arguments or blisters. Good times.

So in the spirit of a (sort of) one year wedding anniversary I compiled the top 10 best of best things that happened this last year, our first full year of being legally married in our home state.

  1. We survived new car envy. She bought I convertible, I got jealous. We now share our vehicles. Whats mine is mine. What is yours is now mine too. I’m pretty sure it was in the vows.96a9c5c0cecad209aedb00bb45a2dffa
  2. The kids went away for the summer and we managed to focus a little time on us. Every relationship needs a little space alone to develop. Ours developed into missing the kids after a couple month extended honeymoon. Whatever works.Summer-of-Love
  3. We went to the beach, several times. There is nothing like feeling the sand between your toes. Or the sand hitting you in the face as it swirls around the car, coming off your beach gear. That’s what happens when you shove the sandy gear into the back of that super cute, top down convertible you HAD to take for the trip.  11137193_1011165278894072_8677361988249007150_n
  4. We watched fireworks for the 4th, from our mountain spot, all by ourselves. It was kinda romantic and super beautiful. The other fireworks throughout the year on the mountain, likely scaring the neighbors into calling for backup, maybe not so much romantic as horrifying. We are trying to keep our arguments to ourselves now. Sorry y’all. 11403087_1036972702979996_7696834849185982622_n
  5. We learned to budget. Just kidding, no we didn’t. We bought a new car and went to the beach a few times. We can’t seem to save any money. I have no idea why. Saving Money
  6. She learned to cook. Well, not really cook, but she can grill like nobody’s business. Thinking about our 1 year anniversary steak dinner she magically produced is making me hungry, 3 months later. sunset-2
  7. I changed my last time to hers. Finally. She ran out and changed the name on the mailbox … I am still learning to sign it. Or to recolonize it when called. fa38b4ca80e150dc2a1e9445abc452b4
  8. We made new friends. Together. Couple friends. That isn’t easy considering we are so different. It is almost like getting a raise, the one you don’t think it will ever happen. All of a sudden you are eating more than soup from a can, in your one room apartment, while talking to your cat before bedtime at 8pm. It’s a big wide world out there when you have couple friends to go explore it with. friends_cast_004a
  9. We found new things to explore together. Places to go, things to do, food to eat and fancy new beer to try. Again, a big deal because when we first met we didn’t have much more in common than mutual lust. No shame. None. 3190410_13213875_lz
  10. Last but certainly most important: Nobody was seriously injured or died. I’m not kidding, it was a close call a few times. Marriage is hard, apparently so is smothering your beloved with a pillow. wpid-wp-1432838209051.jpeg

Spring cleaning the closets

It’s that time of year again. We dig out the prior seasons clothing, sort totes to see what still fits and what’s still fashionable.

Unimagetil about 2 1/2 years ago I did this task twice a year all by myself. I would go from bedroom to bedroom and organize with carefully color coded totes. It took me about a day and that includes the inevitable laundry. That was when I had time for simple pleasures, like bubble baths and pedicures. Times have changed.

Life circumstances the last 2 years or so what they were, the kids would sort of help the last few change outs. This was done with minimal supervision and it seemed like they had a good handle on keeping organized and tidy. I didn’t check on them. It was after all probably fine.

This year I decided they could do it themselves entirely. A preteen boy and a young teen girl, I could trust them with this responsibility. cause I’m tired. and lazy.

Still.
The kids are surely old enough to do this all by themselves, right? Wrong. So wrong.

I came home to begin my weekend on the couch; I was going to watch a movie or a Netflix marathon or something on the DVR. Or maybe all that. I’ve had a long week and I earned this weekend. I had all night free and popcorn ready for poppin.

Then it started.

The endless arm loads of clothing being dumped around me. Then they started with the questions …

Daughter: “What about clothes I don’t want?”
Me: grumbling, pausing the TV but not making eye contact … “Just sort them and I’ll figure it out.”

Son: “What about this?” holding a shirt some random kid probably left here months ago.
Me: “Really? Put it in the pile. I’ll sort it out.”

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I’m gonna take my chances anyway.

This went on for what seemed like forever. Then they disappeared leaving me with more clothes than a Goodwill grand opening.

Then I noticed the smell. Not the buttery goodness of a fresh Orville Redenbacher. No. More like one of the dogs passed gas while barfing up a dead thing they unburied and then ate. Not that my dogs would do such things. Hopefully.
I don’t know where the stench was coming from but it was gross.

I sighed heavily without breathing in too much of the toxic air and set to sorting. No way could I continue ignoring the mess. I carefully inspected the clothing and made my selections. One pile for eBay, one for donating and one for the trash.

I found one of my cardigans, a single shoe, a dried up leaf and 2 mini bounce balls. I also found some tiny sizes they clearly missed in the prior seasons closet clean outs. I don’t care how good of a job they claim they did, I know nobody in this house has worn Iron Man under-roos since kindergarten. Lucky for me one pair of jeans had 42 cents in the pocket. Even luckier? Nothing dead.

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I think maybe I will go back to cleaning their closets myself. Even if it means I never, ever get time to just watch TV without multi-tasking again.

Date Day! Our “not so romantic” adventure to Triple Falls

Today was date day! A real date day not just the wine and dine kind of date (or in our case the beer, wings and game type). The kind of date you look forward to in advance, with a plan and romance and time just for each other.

We decided on a hike to a near by water fall area and a little picnic on a side trail somewhere along the way. We would bring sandwiches and those little single bottles of wine. It would be just us and it would absolutely epic.

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Triple Falls DuPont State Forest

Only our big date day didn’t go exactly as we had discussed. Nobody brought the sandwiches, nobody bought the wine. We didn’t even decide which falls to go to ahead of time. The weather wasn’t quite warm enough yet in the day but we still had the convertible top down. We had such good intentions.

Then this happened:

Her: (for the 5th time) ” I need directions, I don’t know where I’m going”

Me: “then maybe you should pull the ******* car over and put the top on. I’m freezing my ass off and I’m trying to find the directions!”  Have you ever tried to read your phone with the open sky glaring down on it? You can’t see a damn thing. I was doing my best, it just so happened that I expressed it poorly and in a loud, possibly hysterical tone.

Her: “Then maybe we should just go home then.”

Me: “Fine.”  Well, that escalated quickly.

It didn’t take long for us to warm up and tempers to cool off. We laughed at each other and headed on to our destination.

Once we arrived we realized everyone and their dog had the same idea. We were not going to be alone. Even if we had remembered the tiny bottles of wine we would not have enjoyed them in solitude.

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Hiking in DuPont Spring 2015

There were couples, singles, families and kids of all ages. There were dog walkers and gangs of old folks with walking sticks. There were booty shorts and similarly questionable hiking attire plus backpacks a plenty. I am absolutely sure one group even brought the entire Ancestry Family Tree. There were parents and grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, in-laws and outlaws. Inside one particular group there was also a heavily guarded picnic basket. For a moment I considered ditching my date and joining the clan. We had after all forgotten our sandwiches. and a girls gotta eat.

Then there were all the lesbian couples. I’m not kidding. It was like we missed the note that said “Les Meet! Friday hikers start here!” There were so many. It was like we out numbered the heteros. I’ve hiked these areas a few times and I’ve never noticed this phenomenon. I would have noticed.

It wouldn’t be a big deal except there is this special way lesbian couples of my general age group great one another in passing. I like to compare it to when dog owners with the same breed meet up. Each eyes the other and quickly confirms that their bitch is obviously superior. Clearly. This is confirmed with a mutual nod and smile. It’s a little strange but true.

Even with all the head nodding, kid avoiding and old folk passing it was a great hike. We had a good time and we laughed like we did when everything was still brand new. We even made a sandwich and beer stop after the hike was over. Who needs wine for romance anyway.

At the end of the day we were happy to have had the time together, and that is exactly what a great date should be. It isn’t about what you did, but more who you did it with. I’m already looking forward to next time.

*head nod, smile*