Thursday, April 30, 2009

Threads-Tapestry of Mom: Elegance

At Mom's services we had some canvas and markers for people to write descriptive words or memories of who Mom was to them. One of the words written was ELEGANCE. This photo of her living room seems to speak to that. Mom had beautiful taste.

Threads-The Tapestry of Mom: Words

Words used by friends and family to describe Mom:

Gracious Hostess
Very Classy Lady
Beautiful Lovely Friend
Awesome Giggle
Epitome of Femininity

The story goes that the 1st grade (or so) class of my nephew's was assigned the writing of a paper about their grandmothers. About his Nana, my nephew turned in a paper with one word written in the middle:
He got an A.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Threads-The Tapestry of Mom: God

I love books.
Our bookshelves speak about us.
Mom was a Christian. (Still is!)
A believer in Jesus Christ.
A believer in the God of the Bible.

Threads-The Tapestry of Mom: Flowers

Taking and posting these photos from around Mom's house has been really meaningful to me. It's so easy to overlook the everyday things we're used to seeing, and then later, when it's too late, find ourselves wishing we could have just one more look. One more look around her house. One more look at the way she expressed herself through her beautiful taste, aesthetics, art, collections, books.

Mom loved dried floral arrangements. She had some beautiful ones made by the owner of a flower shop I worked for long ago.

The grassy one in the back (below) was one she loved for many years. I always thought it looked too wild and grassy. I only started to appreciate it within the last two years. I finally said to her this past year, "I've really started to like that one." It was funny: she said she didn't like it anymore, she'd gotten tired of it. Funny - we agreed with each other, just in different decades.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

11pm Sunset at Denali

Working late on the computer tonight and, just for kicks, I refreshed the Denali Cam. I was certain it would be pitch dark like the Seward Cam was. But look what I found at 11:50pm Arizona time, 10:50pm Alaska time. The farther north, the longer the light. (The opposite is true in winter.)

Threads-The Tapestry of Mom: Pigs

Our Mom loved PIGS.
Little pigs.
Big pigs.

Peeking pigs.

Even dirty pigs.

Threads-The Tapestry of Mom: Animals

Mom loved animals. All animals.
She thought hippos were so funny.

And sheep could be co cute.

But she loved DOGS most of all.

Especially dachshunds.

As far as real life animals in her life, Mom adored dogs.
But when it came to collecting things, hands down it was....
(Check back later for the next Tapestry post.)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Threads-The Tapestry of Mom: Closet

I love this picture.

And this one.

My sister-in-law heard of a sweet idea for creating a special keepsake memory of someone you've lost: taking some of their favorite clothing and making a quilt out of it. I love this idea. There are three of us kids, so I'm thinking we can make a little wall quilt for each of us. Maybe one of us will choose to make something else. I also thought a table runner would be nice. I can see us gathered for a family dinner with Mom's memory represented in a colorful quilt running down the center of the table. A beautiful thought.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Lucy is our neighbor kitty. She would come visit us every now and then. I'd just happen to look up and see her sitting on the back porch, looking in through a french door window pane. If I didn't get to the door in time, she'd turn to leave. But as soon as I turned the deadbolt, she'd turn back around and come to the door. Then she'd sit there...conflicted. She'd ACT like she didn't want to come in. But I knew better. She just needed patience. If I paid too much attention to her, she'd leave. If I left the door open and ignored her, she'd come in. And she'd head right into the dining room where she'd do a "cuddle dive" onto the carpeting, showing me her belly, begging for pets. Mom loved her, too. Lucy brightened many a day for Mom, and me, too. We both enjoyed talking to and petting her. Sometimes she'd stay in the house for 10-20 minutes and we'd forget she was here. Until we'd hear a little peep of a meow letting us know it was time for her to move on and continue her rounds of the neighborhood. Sometimes she'd find me while I was out in the back yard, like the day I took these pictures.

Monday, April 20, 2009

DBG - Part 4, Misc

Love these railings. Rebar, concrete and rocks.

I have always loved the impressions left by the (what do you call them?) leaves (?) once previously huddled tightly against the core.

Some type of Lavender.
I planted 3 little ones of these by the mail box last year and they're doing well.

Love this rock bench, too. Interesting. Unique. Natural. Rustic. But... I'm guessin' NOT very comfortable because it:
a.) is hard as... well, a rock
b.) would probably give you third degree burns right through your clothes in the Arizona summer, and
c.) would probably be pretty cold in the winter as well.
But still worthy of a photograph.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Desert Botanical Garden - Part 3, Butterflies

Desert Botanical Garden- Part 2, Chihuly Exhibit

I have this longing inside me to write - but everything seems tangled up inside. So...I'll finally post a few photos from the Desert Botanical Garden and the Dale Chihuly exhibit.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Random Order

I was looking through some of my Alaska photos from last year's trip and I found this one. I call it Random Order. We were walking on the beach headed to take pictures of large numbers of bald eagles that hang out there. I was looking down, watching my step as I often do, when I came upon these rocks. I love rocks. And I love the apparent random chance of this orderly configuration.

Random Order

Sometimes I wonder what I'm missing because I so often look down when I walk. Then at times like these, I know there are things I would miss if I was always looking up. Que sera.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Every night I turn on this antique lamp in Mom's bathroom, just as she did. It's a sweet little lamp that provided her just enough light to see her way in the middle of the night.

The Mysteries of Grief Begin

Now that the hub-bub and seeming chaos of the weeks surrounding my Mom's death have settled down, I'm finding myself within the mysteries of the grieving process. I got online last night and found several books and a couple articles on grief, particularly about the loss of a mom or parent. I have saved my findings for later review and eventual purchase. I found that even the little I read within the book descriptions and reviews has helped me understand that the confusing things I'm experiencing are part of grief.

One thing I find interesting is the contradiction going on within me. I am eager for the world to acknowledge my loss. I am hoping and waiting for even the few neighbors I know to inquire what all the commotion of undue numbers of cars present in front of our house for two weeks was all about. Is everything OK? How is your mom? I am eagerly awaiting some cards people have said they intend to send, letting us know what Mom meant to them. There are people at church I wish would approach me with acknowledgement and hugs but they have not yet. Maybe some are unaware, but some surely are not. I am so eager for the world to acknowledge this gigantic thing in my life that I am hyper-tuned, waiting and looking for it, perhaps too sensitive and even feeling slighted sometimes. the same time, I have found myself unable to return the sweet phone messages of my very closest friends. What???

Grief must be a complicated and sometimes confusing process. I think it will be good to have some input and understanding from one or more of these books I've tagged. In the meantime, I am trying to observe myself with patience and understanding, letting the confusing things be confusing. Grief is a process I have only just begun.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Botanical Garden, Part 1

What was that I said yesterday? I was looking forward to the quiet beauty and some reflecting, refreshing, renewing time at the Desert Botanical Garden? HA!! I forgot that it's tourist season. So I spent about 3 hours in the Botanical Gardens with, oh, about 1000 other people! Literally.

The Chihuly pieces were amazing. The desert plants were beautiful. The butterfly pavillion was cool.

BUT...there were just SO many people. Everywhere. It was so crowded it basically ruined it all for me. But I tried to take it in stride, appreciating it the best I could. I took tons of photos, which was about all I could do with my time there because there was no space for tranquillity and quiet enjoyment of the place. I'll post pictures in a day or so.

I was disappointed but still enjoyed it. It was pleasantly warm. I got really tired after a couple hours. My fingers hurt from holding my four pound camera. By the end, as I was trying to find my way out, I was just so tired of trails that dead ended or looped back on themselves!

So... Refreshing? Renewing? In a round about way, it was. I was so exhausted from all the walking, all the crowds, and all the sun, that I came home and slept for over 2 hours. I know I got too much sun because I had several bouts with chills all afternoon and evening. I slept a lot and very well last night, getting another 9 or 10 hours.

Today, I'm hitting the To Do List.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

And Life Continues...

I am experiencing what everyone does when they have such a loss...that life doesn't stop, even though we think it should. I am strengthened by the knowlege that Mom is in perfect peace and utter joy in heaven with Jesus. I am processing my grief as it comes, which is often at odd times. I think I am still in somewhat of a stupor. I am sad. I am grieving. I am lazy. I am tired. The last five weeks have been so fraught with trauma, sadness, intense emotions, discouraging responsibilities and tremendous chaos that I have not caught up on sleep yet. I have not put the house back together after having so wonderfully many people living and visiting in it. I still have my personal toiletries in about 3 different places in the house. I sleep well at night but waken too early. Not good when combined with my natural tendency to stay up too late, sometimes waaay too late. Mail is in piles all over the house. Photos of my beautiful Mom remain stacked in boxes and albums, and loose, on the dining room table.

Today I am going to the Desert Botanical Gardens. I am looking forward to the quiet beauty, the Dale Chihuly glass exhibit, and the butterfly exhibit. Looking forward to taking pictures. Since I understand the typical garden experience takes 2-3 hours, I may wander over to the Zoo afterwards. I've alloted the whole day for what I hope will be a reflective, refreshing, and renewing experience.

My husband wisely and lovingly advised me when he suggested I resume regular life and all it's responsibilities by taking several days to do nothing, then hit the To Do list hard for a day, then spend a day doing nothing again, and on and on until I'm back on track. I have given myself through today to be idle, doing only as I please, taking things as they come. Tomorrow is my official re-entry into regular life. It will hit hard as there are a lot of necessary tasks howling at the door...such as our taxes and renewing all his Alaska guiding licenses, for instance. Mmmm, boy! Can't wait to jump into those taxes right off this traumatic period! But if I know I have "permission" to rest and "recover" the next day, I can begin without the burden of feeling like there is no more rest on the horizon should I need it.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Mom. Nana. Grandma. Aunt Gloria. Friend.

Gloria D. Thomas died at her home surrounded by family on March 30, 2009 at the age of 81. The daughter of Elwyn and Leota, Gloria was born in Detroit, Michigan on September 17, 1927. An outstanding dancer in her youth, she also excelled as a student advancing two grades in grammar school to begin high school at age 12. She attended Wayne State University in Detroit, MI at the age of 16. Married at 19 to her children’s father, Dr. Donald S. Welch, she was also a member of Zeta Chi sorority graduating with a BA in Education in 1948 at the age of 20. Gloria valued education all her life and began her career by teaching fourth grade in Des Moines, IA from 1948 - 1951. After moving to Phoenix in 1966 she was active at her children’s school as room mother and PTA member. She campaigned and was elected to the Scottsdale School Board serving from 1972 -1976 including a term as President. She later taught 4th - 6th grade Title 1 Reading and Math students at Tonalea Elementary School in Scottsdale, and served as the Title 1 Coordinator until her retirement.

A dedicated and active member of the Presbyterian Church all her life, Gloria volunteered in a wide variety of ways at both Historic First Presbyterian Church and Valley Presbyterian Church here in the Phoenix area. Whether planning a social event or silent auction, leading a Bible study or assisting the minister with a youth confirmation class, serving on planning committees, bereavement committees, or Cook’s Tour committees, Gloria was a faithful servant of God and her church. She also served as an ordained ruling elder of Valley Presbyterian church. Her practical wisdom, thoughtful insight, and generous hands-on help contributed greatly wherever she served. She actively supported the Christian activities of her teenage children by hosting many a church youth group swim party, inner city children’s parties, and Young Life meetings. Possessing a beautiful singing voice, Gloria was a faithful choir member at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Detroit and Historic First Presbyterian Church in Phoenix for over 30 years, participating in many outstanding productions including The Nativity and Handel’s Messiah conducted and directed by her beloved and gifted husband, Dr. George F. Thomas, Minister of Music, who preceded her in death in 1997.

Gloria is survived by her three children and their spouses, two stepsons and their spouses, ten grandchildren, and one great-grandson. We are grateful to have been given such a beautiful and giving woman as our loving mother, mother-in-law, and adoring Nana and Grandma.