Sentimental Saturday: Maddie


Seven years ago today, Maddie and I moved in together.

I’d been in Albuquerque for less than a month, and while I had started making friends at UNM, I was lonely. I missed Neal. I missed Tilly. I missed my family and friends. My oldest sister was visiting me for Labor Day weekend. We stopped by Starbucks on the way to Santa Fe, and while she ordered her drink, I looked at the rescue dogs outside of the PetCo. I had been thinking of adopting a small dog, maybe a border terrier, once I had settled into my school routine. The second I caught sight of Maddie, though, I fell hard.

MB returned with her chai, sat in a chair with her eyebrows raised, not making eye contact as I loved on the mutt. My sister has a clear “I’m not getting involved” face, and she was wearing it.

The woman who had to give Maddie had attached a long note to her crate. Then called Tickle, the pup had been found tied to a telephone pole by a shoe lace. Maddie’s sweet first mom, X, removed over 300 ticks and glass from her. I can’t tell you how filled with rage I still get when I imagine the cruelty to leave a puppy out on her own in the high desert, but Maddie was fortunate. A move to the west coast necessitated X put Maddie up for adoption.

The first few weeks were rough. I’ll be honest; I thought about returning her. I had to change my schedule. She was housebroken, but she also had some bad chewing habits (I used open the apartment door and say “here’s hoping” every time I returned home…she had a particular hunger for books.) and hated going for rides in the car. I suddenly was getting up before the sun to walk her. I got super skinny from climbing three flights of stairs what seemed like hundreds of times a day; well, I guess the weight loss and lowered cholesterol were huge benefits of giving in to Maddie’s longing for walks.

Two things changed my mind: Neal told me he would lose respect for me if, after waxing on about how great a dog would be, I turned around and gave it right up; and Maddie barked with ferocity at a strange guy who approached me while we were outside. I didn’t feel threatened by the man at all, but when I told Neal about it, he said that Maddie had bonded with me, that I was part of her pack, and she wanted to protect me.

I was pretty fragile at the time, and while I’ve never before admitted it, I needed some protection. I needed some unconditional love. I needed to matter to someone–even if that someone was my dog–out there, so far away from home.

Maddie may have needed a new home, but I needed her, my wacky, funny, sometimes clumsy, always darling mutt.

Sentimental Saturday, Meta Style

Celebratory Flowers

I’ve been sentimental all day today. Why? Well, six years ago today I took the plunge into a world that was brand new to me. With a little “tap, tap, is this thing on,” I blogged my first post on Wearing Black in New Mexico.

Tap, tap...

So much has changed in six years:

  • I returned to Connecticut after living elsewhere for 16 years.
  • I married Neal.
  • I adopted Coco.
  • I found a teaching job.
  • I’ve honed my crafting and learned so many new crafts.
  • I’ve written thousands and thousands of words.
  • I launched a writing consulting business.
  • I made tons of friends online.
  • I made several really good friends in CT and MA.
  • I’ve gotten two new tattoos.
  • I’ve had the pleasure of writing for you, dear reader!
This blog has been a consistent joy for me over the last six years. I love sharing my life with you and getting to know more about your world, too.
So, thank you, dear reader, for being a part of my little niche of the Internet!

Sentimental Saturday: House Frog

House Frog
I found this toy frog in the tiny back yard of my Albuquerque casita. If you’ve read my blog since its Wearing Black in New Mexico days, you might recall that casita–my adorable home in the North Valley; the site of many a Crafty Friday, spinning adventure, and knitting challenges. I bought it about a month after my co-op in New York sold and couldn’t wait to be in my own place again. I loved living in an adobe home, adored the two kiva fireplaces, and never quite had enough furniture to look right in the place.

Sure, knowing I would be in Albuquerque for only a few years, I wanted to live in an adobe home, and my casita filled that requirement…but it also filled the dog-related requirement: I needed a back yard. When I saw my unit’s yard had a tree and room for Maddie to run around, I was sold.

Shortly after Maddie and I moved in, I started prepping for the big backyard-reno that Neal promised me. Instead of wood chips over plastic, I would have a patch of grass and a stone path and sitting area. As I decided where I best liked my chairs one day, I caught a glimpse of something green.

A treasure from some previous resident, the House Frog took up a place of honor in the casita, and he now lives on the window sill in my studio, New Mexican dirt still encrusted on his legs. When I hold him, I think of all the friends who shared time in my dear little home: Dana and Mike, David, Billy, Jamie, Cari, Mona, Noelle, Lizzie…oh, I’m leaving out far too many of them, but the laughs and conversations and special moments we shared, like that dirt, are encrusted all about the House Frog, my little household deity.

Do you have anything you’ve taken from home to home that reminds you of where you’ve lived? Feel free to leave a note in the comments, or share a link to your own Sentimental Saturday post (pictures are great!).

Sentimental Saturday: Train

Gramp's Train

When I was a child, my mother would take me and my siblings to visit our grandparents every Saturday. My gramp had a C.B. in the basement, along with a huge train setup. The trains and little scenes that were spread around almost the entire basement entertained us for hours.

My gramp passed away when I was a senior in high school. I can still hear his laugh, see his smile and twinkly eyes, smell his working-man scent. I miss him often and wish I could tell him what I’m reading. Despite his having only a grammar school education, he was passionate about reading and would take time to see what book I had with me each week.

This Union Pacific train car sits on my studio bookshelf, a reminder of fun Saturday mornings as well as his insistence that books were vitally important. I don’t need an object to bring these things to mind, but there are days when I get a lot of satisfaction from holding the train car and knowing that he once held it, too.

What object links you to someone you love and miss?  Feel free to share in the comments or leave a link to your own Sentimental Saturday post.

Sentimental Saturday: Margaux’s Ring

Margaux's Ring

I have eight nephews and nieces, and they are all pretty darn cool. I enjoy getting hand-crafted gifts from them, although they are few and far between any more. The days of construction paper and crayon cards have passed. There’s a file in my office filled with cards and notes from the kids, and on the window sill near the kitchen sink I keep one of the little gifts I’ve received over the years: a ring made by my youngest niece.

A few Christmas seasons ago, my brother and his family traveled to Connecticut, and, bored in the back of the car, Margaux made little rings from yarn pulled from her scarf, which she bestowed on the women of our family. I wore mine for a day or two, but soon popped it onto my ring holder, afraid it would fall apart in the dish water.

Every day as I clean up the kitchen, I think of the little girl who looks so much like her dad and has grown into quite a crafter, knitting, crocheting, and exploring her world with gusto. I don’t see her that often, but I always enjoy the time I have with her (and all the kids, of course!).

What child-made item makes you feel sentimental?

Sentimental Saturday: Tea Tin

Tea Tin
Twelve years ago, I spent the summer studying at St. John’s College in Oxford. For the first time, I lived alone (if you don’t count the other women who lived in my hall and shared a bathroom). I enjoyed the freedom, the intellectual stimulation, the opportunity to explore at my own pace.

One of the souveniers I brought home to remind me of the morning coffee (I always took tea, not coffee) offered between classes was a tin of Whittard’s Oxford tea. The fall after I returned to New York, I savored the tea until I sipped the last cup. When a tea tin has pretty paper with images of dreaming spires on it, well, what can a girl do but use it on her desk?

Now, rather than refreshing tea (“…for gentle punting…”), the tin holds dpns and spindles at easy reach on my desk. When I take a longer look at it, I can almost hear the bells of Oxford, smell the broom that I passed each day, taste the morning tea, see the golden Cotswold stone.

What place makes you sentimental? Feel free to share your story in the comments or post it on your blog and leave a link here.

Sentimental Saturday: Stone Wall

Stone Wall

Neal bought his house about a year before we started dating. Other than some early renovations, I’ve witnessed most of the changes he’s made to the little yellow ranch in the woods. I’m most sentimental about the stone wall he built at the edge of the back yard, where the woods begin. He acquired some beautiful stones with cool history and spent the entire first summer (at least) that we dated moving them around. Many of our early phone conversations included discussions of the shape of the wall, progress he had made, and changes he planned to make over the next week.

I want our yard and gardens to look like this is a great-aunt’s house (well, I am now a great-aunt, not just a great aunt, so I suppose it is by virtue of my living here), specifically, my great-aunt Lou’s yard. I remember it as small and magical.  The stone wall brings us close to my vision. We have lots of hosta and fern growing back there, as well as a plant from the greenhouse at Mohonk, where we honeymooned, and a plant from the restaurant where we had our wedding brunch.

I spend a lot of time in the back yard in this fabulous weather, and I enjoy looking at the stone wall. It reminds me of Neal’s dedication to creating a beautiful space for us; it reminds me of our wedding; it reminds me of our courtship. It may be the most sentimental part of our home.

What has you feeling sentimental this week?

Sentimental Saturday: Bracelets

6:365

My writing mentor once shared her way of celebrating a finished piece: she buys herself a bracelet. I loved the idea of buying commemorative jewelry for one’s self and took it up. Thanks to Project 333, I’ve purged any jewelry from my collection that lacks real sentimental value, and these bracelets are, after a few pieces from Neal and my family, among the most sentimental of my jewelry. Each of them represents an accomplishment that is important to me: visiting New Mexico for the first time to see if I thought I could move there all alone; completing my first MFA workshop; defending my dissertation; completing and workshopping a new draft of my novel; finishing a novel in November of 2009 as part of NaNoWriMo.

Sometimes I wear one bracelet, sometimes I wear all of them. I often pile them on when I know I have a challenging task ahead of me. They remind me of all I have managed to accomplish, all that I am capable of achieving. They make me feel like Wonder Woman.

Do you have any physical reminders of your potential?  Share a story or a link to your blog in the comments!

Sentimental Saturday: Peony

I had an idea recently to write a weekly series of posts entitled “Sentimental Saturday” in which I will share a picture of an object or place about which I am sentimental, along with a little story about it. Feel free to join in; leave a link in the comments if you do!

Peony Bud

Neal and I started dating not long after he bought the house we live in now. Among his first projects was the creation of gardens around the yard; he studied landscape architecture as an undergraduate and was eager to apply his knowledge to his own space.  Despite his vastly superior understanding of plants and gardens, Neal asked my opinion often. I had no idea I would someday make my home here when I said, “peonies! Plant loads of peonies!”

He started with one peony, right by the deck stairs where we like to sit and watch the world (dogs, hummingbirds, butterflies) around us. Each spring, the peony shoots are the first thing I look for.  When the buds are a tad bigger than in the picture above, I cut a few to watch them bloom, usually placing them on my desk, where I spend the most time.

Of the many plants in our gardens, this is my favorite. It is the first plant Neal added to the yard for me, and I believe that the growth of our relationship is made physical in the burgeoning peony. I carried peonies at our wedding to represent this connection to each other and the home we were creating together. We have many more peonies in a different garden now, but this first remains the one about which I am sentimental.

What are you sentimental about this week? Leave a link to a picture or post in the comments!