Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Lone Star State Of Mind

Father's Day was on the 15th of June this year. I had a present and a card for Martin from Sadie and Holly and I wrote a poem for him too.I was forced on the day to go the extra mile and bring Martin breakfast in bed. I think eating in bed is disgusting but my children have got it into their heads it's the done thing for celebrations. After insisting I get Martin his breakfast they jumped back into their own beds and called for their breakfasts in bed too, Father's Day indeed!

I had been working on two paintings in my head and aimed to have them ready for the 15th, one of Martin and Sadie and another of him and Holly. My cousin, Miriam, who is not only an artist but one with qualifications, told me about the technique of using salt on watercolours to get a special effect. I tried it out and decided on two of my salt backgrounds for the Father's Day paintings. Delighted with the backgrounds it wasn't until I started to paint over them that I realised the texture was very difficult to work over and so work on those ground to a halt and is now moving at a snail's pace. The first one doesn't even have people in it yet and the one with Holly currently shows a child that doesn't look remotely like her. I'll know next time to choose what area of the background I want to have the effect on and not do the areas I want to paint over. But the effects are cool!

I'm going to work slowly on them and I'll either get what I want or I'll just make paintings that don't depict my husband and children!

On Father's Day I received the sad news that my 'Texas Dad', Dennis, had passed away. Terri, his daughter let me know. I spent the summer of 1998 in  Dennis's house in Fort Worth with Dennis, Terri and her mother, Joyce. I also got to know Terri's brother, Michael and his family and was treated as one of the family by all. We are not related but through a relative of my aunt's husband I got a spot in Dennis's house for four months. When everyone was applying for their J1 visas I realised that nearly everyone was Boston bound and I thought there was no point in going where everyone from university was going to be because I could just stay at home for that, so I set my sights on Texas.

Terri and I wrecked Dennis's head and he was nothing but kind. I don't know how many nights we
fell in the door drunk and set the alarm off, it was a great summer for us and a long one for Dennis and Joyce.

I brought home a lot of stuff. I still have these licence plates that I think I have the right place for finally. Sadly the beer, cocktail and shot glasses collection fell to pieces over time but the memories will stay with me forever.

I had always thought I'd meet Dennis again and now I know I won't. He's not my dad though, mine is alive and kicking and one of the great dads who gets nothing for Father's Day. My sister tried to buy him something this year and he told her to spend it on herself so she got shoes....I think her nieces take after her! I'd love to be there for Terri and Michael and to help in some way. The news sent me to our attic where I keep things I don't want my daughters to destroy and I rooted out the book that Dennis and Joyce had given me when I was leaving. They got everyone to sign it, I treasure it. Dennis's inscription says, "Something to remember us by" if I could ever forget. I often think of Texas. The state flower of Texas is the bluebonnet (lupinus texensis) and when our purple lupins arrive in profusion every year I leaf through my photos from that wonderful summer. The first time I ever heard the word xeriscape was in Texas and it has informed my own gardening time and time again. Joyce and I had enjoyed back-to-back video marathons of Val Kilmer movies and, to this day, I love them and always watch them with a giant bag of crisps that I refer to as chips while the movie is on. And the food, do not get me started on the food, Tex-Mex is not the same here.

I decided to make my own sympathy cards which means I only got them in the post today. I did a
painting and then ordered it on cards with Dennis's name on them. I'm so happy with the result, it's a small way for me to be part of it all from so far away.

One of the phrases that used to have me in stitches in Texas was off like a prom dress. Needless to say the Texans laughed at practically everything I said, just my accent was enough to have them giggling. They bought Lucky Charms cereal just to poke fun at me. And fixin' to do something, that was another. I knew Dennis was fixin' to leave, he was very ill. I'll never forget him and hopefully I'll get to meet up again with the others who made my J1 summer so memorable. As they'd say in the Lone Star State: The good lord willin' and the creeks don't rise.


  1. I'm so sorry for your loss. Dennis sounds like a dote and that summer, was, I've no doubt, great "Craic" (I'm sure they loved that expression!!) the card is an absolute treasure.

    I HATE breakfast in bed to, nightmare!!!

    1. Thanks Emily, I really like the card myself eventhough it's for a sad reason. On Father's Day I was nearly sick when I realised three beds had been eaten in that morning!