Monday, December 16, 2013

Blowing Away Ghosts





Anyone who knows me knows how sentimental I am about houses. I've been in my house for thirty years. From the floor joists to the rafters in the garage, I know this house. It's part of me. I know which stairs creak, when the sun will shine in and where. I know how it smells. Other people have lived in this house over the years, but I was here in the beginning and I'm here at the end.

Memories abound. Lucy's second birthday. Babies conceived. Infants brought 
home from the hospital. Thanksgiving after Thanksgiving. Tea parties, birthday parties, Christmas parties, graduation parties, and most recently, a wedding celebration. A perfect April day in the garden for Lana and Rich.

The continuity has been important to me. We moved so many times when I was a child. From Michigan to New York and then all around Rockland County and finally to LA at seventeen. On to San Francisco and eventually Mill Valley. When I moved to this house on Oxford I'd lived in fifteen places in twenty-five years. Then it all stopped.

 My mother is still moving. In her eighties, she moved into another new house a couple years ago.  My siblings are like me. All four of us are still in the houses we bought when we were in our twenties. Our kids have all had the consistency we craved.

It's been a fight for me to stay. When Lucy was a toddler I split up with her father and moved in with my brother and his girlfriend. We decided to look for a house better suited for all of us. There was a rental company called "Crystal Palace."  We told them we needed a house for three adults, a toddler, a dog and a cat and it needed to be under a thousand a month. Miraculously, they found us three properties. We chose Oxford because it had a garage for Doug and a big, flat yard for Lucy.

After a couple years things changed again and Doug and Lisa moved out and Robert moved in. We got married and when I was pregnant with Lana, the owners decided to sell.  Robert didn't think we could afford to buy the house, but I refused to budge. We didn't even have the whole down payment and the house was priced at $153,000. We begged and borrowed. My mother and stepfather co-signed on the loan because we couldn't qualify.

In August of 1986 we bought the house. Nine months pregnant, I started tearing out the ugly wall-to-wall carpeting before escrow even closed. That month Robert also adopted Lucy, and in September Lana was born.  When Allie was three we expanded the kitchen, vaulted the ceilings and built the master suite upstairs. Pearls and Lemons has borne witness to the remodeling travails in earlier posts, but the process did the marriage no favors.

When Robert and I split up he reconnected with his first wife and they remarried and bought a house in San Diego. Robert became detached and wanted to sell so he could get his money out. I wanted to stay so the kids could still live in the house where they grew up. Allie and Lana, in high school, weren’t even finished growing up. We fought bitterly over it. I couldn't afford to stay. I couldn't bear to leave.

It was only when things became serious with Eric that we were able to work out a deal to buy Robert out. We scheduled some deferred payments and agreed to five percent interest. I never thought he'd really charge the interest, but he did. I'll always appreciate the years Eric has given me in the house. Without him, I would have been gone long ago.

Now we've decided it's the right time to sell and look for a smaller place. Eric has worked long and hard. It's time to take some pressure off him. Now I want the money that's in the house more than I want to live here. We've also outgrown the neighborhood. It's for families with children. Our house needs a new family, but now what? Where to go? If I wanted to be in a condo it would be simple. I think Eric could go that route, but I still want a house. I want windows on every side and I want a garden. A small house is fine, but a condo would feel like failure.

It's a challenging process. Even though it feels like the right move, there is grieving to be done. The day after Thanksgiving I completely broke down. I looked around the kitchen and thought about my grandfather sitting in the breakfast nook and all the wonderful dinners we've had over the years. It's not the living. We can make more memories with them anywhere. Lana put it very poignantly. She said it made her sad because she's lived here with Dad and she's lived here with Eric, but there will never be another place where she's lived with Dad and Eric. The reality is she'll never live here again.

When I was most sad about leaving the house I was struck by an unexpected thought. This house is full of lingering spirits. I hadn't realized how sad it's made me to have three empty bedrooms that used to shelter my children. It's an unrecognized, subconscious pain, but it's there. I still don't like to be home alone at dinnertime. If Eric's away I will usually go out to dinner. It makes me sad to be alone here in the evenings. It's too quiet after so many years of vibrant, frenetic, joyous chaos.

We're all processing in our own way. One night Eric was restless in his sleep. He was making strange sounds, exhaling loudly, blowing air on my neck. Finally I woke him and asked if he'd been having a bad dream. He said it wasn't a bad dream. He was blowing away ghosts. He dreamed we were in our new house and there were blue misty shapes that were bad spirits. Like the wolf in The Three Little Pigs, he huffed and he puffed and he blew the ghosts away.

The vicissitudes of the local market demand we sell before buying. We need ready cash to make a competitive offer. We also need to know what we'll get for our house.  It's a good financial plan unless you're a hundred thousand off in the calculations. We need to move before selling because the house must be empty when the floors are refinished.

We are soon to be homeless. On one hand the prospect of change is exciting. On the other, it's scary not knowing where we'll be living. It's a leap and an adventure. In an ironic twist, after years of doglessness, we need to find a temporary rental that will allow a dog! I'm envisioning us in a small cottage or an apartment over a garage. Small and cheap with funky charm. If you have the perfect place, please let me know. And if it has ghosts, not to worry. Eric will blow them away.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Good Grief

Allie, the special pen, the ball and the man, himself. 
My Sharpie is running out of ink. It's not just any Sharpie. It's a special one. It is the pen we used when the girls were on Strawberry Seals swim team. The littlest swimmers didn't know where they were supposed to be. Sheila and the other moms marked their hands with the events they would swim in the meet. Sheila was very organized and marked the pens with a sticker that said "Seals".

Allie as a Strawberry Seal pup. 
Lana (and friend Cooper) with events listed on her hand.  
We ended up with one of those special pens. Some years later we took it to a professional tennis tournament in San Jose. Allie, then 14, had figured out how to get an autograph from Andy Roddick who was then hot, hot, hot. At just the right time, she went to just the right place. After Roddick won his match Allie was one of the lucky few to get to him. He signed a tennis ball with our Seals pen.

That experience foretold the future. Now Allie works in public relations in Los Angeles. She meets famous people for a living. In the past month she's met Jay Leno, Kerry Washington (who complimented her jacket), Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Hudson and I forget who else. Now it's all in a day's work for her, but we were extremely excited about Andy Roddick.

I still have the signed ball and I'm so sentimental that I still have the pen. I use it once in a while, but I recently noticed it was drying up. I kind of feel that way myself right now. This year has been a push on several levels and I think I've used up most of my ink.

Looking back, I'm trying to figure out how I became so depleted. Upon reflection, it’s not that perplexing. Our little friend, Tess, got sick. I work with kindergartners. I retooled back into real estate and got up to speed in the Marin and Sonoma markets. Looking at property, showing property, writing offers in a tough, tough market for buyers. Lana got married in March and I threw a reception for her in April. It was the most perfect day, but was a lot of work to plan and execute.

We got a puppy. Summer 2013 was supposed to be a time of getting to know the new puppy. Bonding. Training. Like any new mother I felt a bit overwhelmed. It was a whole new set of concerns layered upon all the other concerns that preceded her arrival. It also brought new concerns we hadn't considered. Pupparazzi, for one.

Taking Ruby out of the house was overwhelming. She was four pounds when we got her and all ears. It was impossible to go anywhere in public without being accosted. Workers ran out of their offices to meet her. People oohed and squealed and generally made fools of themselves. They whipped out their phones to take videos. It was charming, but draining.

Eric has had a difficult year at work. It's made an already stressful profession almost unbearable.  In August we lost Tess. How do you properly grieve for a six year old? Every time I felt sad and sorry for myself I thought about how much sadder and sorrier it was for her parents and siblings. That didn't stop me from being plenty sad and sorry. I still am, but trying to be grateful for what we have- not just what is missing.

And then there was Boyle. Planning the benefit for the courts took time and energy. It's always amazing that the help you expect doesn't materialize, but other people just show up. Like Marcella Savino and Scott Kintz.  We've brought in another 13 thousand with more checks promised. It looks like we may get a grant from the Outdoor Art Club for two thousand. That's good, but not good enough.  We still need to raise another hundred thousand and soon.

 A lot of my energy this year went to playing competitive tennis. At one point I was on four teams. Several of my teams went to playoffs. Two were in playoffs at the same time. I was captain of a mixed team and I was on my third year of being undefeated at that level. When I finally lost after 16 wins, it was a relief. It was such a relief I lost the next match as well.

My senior team was ranked number one out of 80 teams in our Nor Cal division. We went to the Sectionals, which is the last stop before Nationals. After 13 wins, no losses, our team ground to a halt. It was winnable. Two of our positions lost in third set super tiebreakers that we should have won. That hurts. As we've repeatedly learned, the pain of losing lasts far longer than the high of winning.

The day after we lost was last Sunday. Because we had no more matches the day was free. I could not remember a whole day with nothing planned. Such a relief to have the competition over, and no more for the rest of the year. We relaxed and took a hike with Ruby. We puttered around the house. It was wonderful.

I have had a lot on my mind. Too much to do in too little time. Too much doing for others and not enough "me" time.  I haven't been able to read a novel or do any writing. It's Veteran's Day and I don't have to work at the school this morning. The purpose of this day is not to revive and rejuvenate Wendy, but I think I we can work this out. I can stay in bed and read and write AND really appreciate the Veterans for all they’ve done. This is me trying.


When Mary and I were 14 her brother lost his life in Vietnam. Until I read her post today I didn’t know the details and that he had died in such a heroic way. Read Mary’s post below.
On this #VeteransDay, I post this in memory of my brother, Capt. Harold Faldermeyer, Army Ranger, 21ST DCAT, ADVISOR TEAM 51, MACV ADVISORS. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star while serving as Advisor, 2d Battalion, 32d Regiment, 21st Infantry Division, Army of the Republic of Vietnam. He was killed in Vietnam, May 11, 1972. He was 24 years old.

“That day, the 2nd Battalion, which had been in heavy contact for two days without re-supply, was on an offensive operation against a firmly entrenched North Vietnamese Army Regiment to open Highway 13 to relieve the tightening ring of enemy forces around the beleaguered friendly forces at An Loc. Captain Faldermeyer, with disregard for his own safety, repeatedly throughout the day, exposed himself to enemy fire to direct a series of deadly effective tactical airstrikes against the enemy positions. At approximately 1030 hours the 2d Battalion was attacked by at least one NVA reinforced battalion. Captain Faldermeyer, as the ground controller for U.S. air assets, with single minded determination to accomplish the mission and at great risk to his life, moved under heavy enemy mortar fire across Highway 13 to a vantage point from which to direct and coordinate friendly airstrikes. His position was extremely perilous as he was exposed on three sides with
the remainder of his unit across Highway 13. Despite intense enemy mortar and rocket fire, Captain Faldermeyer remained at this position with extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty at the cost of his life.”


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cracks


Cracks on the Boyle tennis courts. 
For the past four years I've been on a mission. I've been trying to raise money to have the Boyle Park tennis courts redone. It's been a labor of love. Literally. I met Eric at these local, public courts nine years ago. He was divorced and I was separated. We were both tennis addicts. Not only did the tennis courts supply a life partner, they saved my sanity.
When I was 43 year old I had some problems. Actually, I'd always had problems, but they got much worse. Sleeping issues that had haunted me for ages became unbearable. I started having anxiety and panic attacks. Lucy's departure for college the year before had triggered some emotional repercussions. Something in my life wasn't working, but I wasn't able to identify it.

Finally, my doctor prescribed Ativan so I could sleep. He said to take it every night for a month. I took it. I slept. I felt like the proverbial "new person". One morning, I woke up and decided to go Boyle Park to take a drop-in tennis clinic. I noticed that when I was hitting the ball I didn't feel anxious. I started to play more tennis. I arranged my life around it. I began to be anxious if I couldn't play. I got panicked if it rained and there was no tennis.

Eventually I made other changes in my life and calmed down, but I 'll never forget how much it helped me to learn a sport that gave me confidence and friendships. I've since had the good fortune of belonging to a private tennis club. Not everyone has that opportunity.

Tennis is a lifelong sport that should be accessible to all ages. When Rolf Heydel died in his nineties he'd been playing at Boyle every day for forty years. Many kids who learned as three year olds at Boyle have gone on to great success in college tennis. We're lucky to have pros Chris Reiff and Joe Kells. Joe taught me to play. If he could teach me, he can teach anyone. He's also wonderful with children.  I've heard him called "The Kid Whisperer." Chris is the body and soul of the place. Frank has helped foster the women’s teams for years. The Boyle courts have been a special place for generations.

Now the courts at Boyle are so bad they're hard to play on. The five courts are eighty years old and have done yeoman's duty.
Due to many generous private donations and a significant contribution by the City of Mill Valley, the long-awaited court renovation is slated for 2014. I'm very excited that this beloved community asset will be completely renovated – all five courts, drainage, energy efficient lights, fences, retaining walls and ADA accessible paths.
The City of Mill Valley has committed $380k in addition to the fifty thousand they have spent on plans and design. The community has raised $150k including a 50k USTA grant coordinated by Larry Smith. We have come a long way, but there is still a funding gap.

With tremendous help from Marcella Savino, I have been busy planning ROCKTOBERFEST as the third and final fundraiser for the courts. Here’s the flyer. See you there. Boyle Park Renovation


Monday, July 29, 2013

Shades of Beige

From Pumpkin to Carrington Beige


Every morning in kindergarten the children get a few minutes of choice time to settle in and adjust to the transition. Every morning for the entire year there was a group of girls and sometimes a couple boys, who chose to draw. Rainbows. Rainbows every day. They got really good at drawing rainbows.

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. Roy G. Biv  as we learned in school. Marin County is kind of a rainbow place. You have to go through the Rainbow Tunnel to get here from San Francisco.  Our house has become kind of a rainbow house, accent on yellow. We have had a veritable bouquet of yellow shades, but we also have a red wall, a burgundy wall, an olive bedroom, a sage bedroom and until last week, an orange hall.

Painting walls satisfies my compulsive need for change. I like change. I crave stability. It's the oddest combination.  Almost thirty years in the same house, I'm so comforted by the familiar. You know your house like you know the face of a dear friend. You remember the way light comes in at certain times of year. The creak of doors, the squeak of a step. The smell of the attic when you go upstairs on a hot day.

Sameness gets boring. It always has. As much as I love my house, I’m awfully tired of driving down the same street to get here. I wish I could move the house somewhere else. The last year has been a time of thinking about the future and where we may go in a couple years. Part of the process is slowly preparing the house for its new family. Part of the preparation is making orange walls disappear.

I had such bad paint issues with my ex-husband. We clashed mightily over shades of white. Of course color, or lack thereof, was just a metaphor for other ways we failed. Swedish and Norwegian, Robert liked stark, cold colors. Like  Navajo White. An artist, I love color. I like to take risks.

Robert was innately opposed to change. His first response to anything different was always negative. He couldn't help it. A man of rituals, he’d do something new, after initially resisting the idea. Then he'd like it and say we should make it part of the routine. Why did everything need to be a routine? Starved for distraction and stimulation, I felt smothered and trapped. We started out full of hope and promise, but didn't wear well together.

When I remarried I was determined not to have paint problems. I couldn't handle it. Painting is a way for me to get a hit of change almost immediately. When I get the urge to paint a wall or a room there's no stopping me. It is manic.

The best example of my painting compulsion is a January day in 1982. I was seven months pregnant with Lucy and the nesting instinct was overpowering. I decided I needed to paint the nursery immediately. Yellow, of course. Forget the fact that we were experiencing a storm with such severe rain and wind that the Golden Gate Bridge was shut down. Somewhere in the process our power went out and I sent Lucy's Dad to 7-11 to buy another paintbrush. I then proceeded to paint the room by candlelight. Looking back, I can see that this was extreme behavior, but I don't really think I've changed that much.

One October afternoon a few years ago I decided the downstairs hall needed painting. I called Eric at work and asked him what color it should be. He told me to paint it orange. Done. By evening we had a pumpkin shade of orange in the hall. There has been some research done on the psychological effect of certain paint colors. Supposedly you sleep the longest in blue rooms. We painted our bedroom in San Francisco blue. I can't remember whether we slept well or much else from 1979. 


In the blue SF bedroom on March 10, 1979
Some of our favorite colors came from homes I've seen on Broker Tour. I've even been known to go back to a house for sale and nose around the garage looking for cans of paint. It's best to see the paint in action before taking the plunge, but I've also closed my eyes and leapt plenty of times. Paint has gotten very expensive, but mistakes are correctable.

We learned a very hard lesson with exterior paint. About fifteen years ago we needed to paint and my ex and I agreed on a Cape Cod style gray. That was the end of agreeing. The shade of gray became a seemingly insurmountable difficulty. My ex did not like any of the colors I suggested.

The painter was all set to go and he dutifully painted samples on the side of the house. Robert would come home from work, look at the color and decide he didn't like it. The same thing happened the following day. Days turned into more days.  Now who's crazy? In the second week Robert took matters into his own hands. He went to the paint store in Corte Madera and supervised the creation of a color. A drop of this. Two drops of that. We ended up with a fine shade of gray that I could not differentiate from the other samples, but whatever. It was progress.

The paint job required massive amounts of prep and scaffolding to get to the second story. It cost twelve thousand dollars, but when it was finished we were happy. For a while. In a couple years we noticed something strange. The paint was fading. Maybe not exactly fading. It was changing color. Wherever it was exposed to the sun it lost the gray hue. In a couple more years we had a two-tone house. The upper level was Robin's egg blue. After all that fuss it was only gray on the porch. The rest of it was a paint color nobody would have chosen.

Frustrated, disappointed, we couldn't figure it out. It was a reputable painter and quality paint. We could get the paint replaced, but nobody would compensate us for the labor. So we lived with it. Year after year. Robert and I divorced and then we each married again, but the house still looked terrible. It bothered me every time I looked at it or thought about it.

Recently Eric and I bit the bullet and repainted the house. Lana and Rich were planning to get married and we wanted to throw a celebration for them in our garden. There's nothing like a wedding reception to light the afterburners on home maintenance and repairs.

During the bid process I learned something very interesting about exterior paint. In order for the color to last you must choose stock colors. If you want a custom color you can only work with certain pigments. A drop of this and two drops of that is not sustainable. It never was. That was an expensive lesson for all concerned. Two drops of enthusiasm mixed with a drop of reticence don't blend to become something lasting and beautiful.

Another twelve thousand dollars were on the line and I couldn't afford to make a mistake. I had to choose paint that I could see on somebody's house. I drove around the neighborhood looking for the perfect color and finally found it a few blocks away on Sycamore Avenue. I sent a letter to the owners complimenting their choice and begged for the color name. I got an email from the owner explaining that it was Beechwood Gray.

I showed the color to Eric and he deliberated for quite some time. At least thirty seconds. Then he agreed it WAS perfect. McCarthy painting did a wonderful job, although we had a couple days of drizzle. One day it began to rain mid-morning. I emailed from school asking if they could paint the living room. Sure, but they needed a color. I'd seen a home for sale on Sunnyside with very pretty, soft beige in the living room. I rushed over there during the open house with the paint fan. The agent helped me match the color. Carrington Beige.

Out with the peachy pink we'd had for so long. In with a peaceful, neutral color. So peaceful and neutral that now orange has been killed and the hall is beige as well. It's hard to say how this is trending. The Benjamin Moore website proclaims “Lemon Sorbet” the color of the year. “This beautiful yellow hue harmonizes with other trending pastels in the mint, coral, pink, blue and vanilla families. Uplifting without being overpowering, Lemon Sorbet is the ideal home paint color to complement any d├ęcor”.

Uplifting without being overpowering? It sounds like something to drink. I’m not sure where folks are using mint and coral pastels. Maybe Miami Beach. All the properties I’ve been seeing seem to be Carrington Beige. Remember, you heard it here first. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Love Puppy


Ruby looking ever so innocent. We know better.




It's been one week and one day since we brought Ruby home to live with us. Life as we knew it is over. It's better. We're having such fun with her. So cute we can hardly stand it, yet a complete handful. When she's awake I wish she would fall asleep and when she's asleep I want to wake her up. Every time I look at Ruby I want to take a picture.

Gone are the mornings of lounging in bed, reading the paper and drinking coffee. Now we open our eyes and race to the crate to take Ruby out to do her business. Then she's absolutely starving and frantic for company. She now sleeps all night without a peep, but at 6 am there is hell to pay.

Mornings are insanity with this creature. Ruby bites with her sharp, needle teeth. She scratches and claws and hurls her five-pound body in circles. She does barrel rolls. Then comes the collapse. Ruby goes from awake to snoring faster than my husband. Having her sleep on your lap, making soft, snorty noises is bliss.

When we drove half way across California in hundred-degree weather we thought we'd be picking up a dog. What we got was a pig. Or, a cross between a pig and a rabbit. Sometimes she seems like a kitten with bat ears. Very rarely does this creature resemble a dog. It's hilarious. It’s hard to convey how tiny Ruby is. Eric says she looks like a large burrito with legs. She’s smaller than his shoe. 

Since French Bulldogs are so popular we couldn't buy one locally until 2014, so we looked farther afield. You can have them shipped from anywhere in the country for a price. I didn't want to meet our new dog at the airport. I wanted to see where she came from. Meet the family.

Modern Moms sometimes take a little getaway before their baby is born. It's called a "babymoon". We took a "puppymoon". We turned the pre-adoption trip into a mini vacation. The drive down the central California coast was stunning. Lunch in Arroyo Grande was lovely. We stopped in charming Solvang for wine tasting. Think Pennsylvania Dutch country in California.

Then it was off to Montecito. The beach was three blocks from our hotel. The air was warm and humid and summery. The ocean was delightful. Memories still linger from the wonderful lunch Eric and I had at San Ysidro Ranch. Such a special place. I need to go back to Santa Barbara again soon.




Lunch at San Ysidro




Southward to Los Angeles and a visit with Allie. More beach time and a fun dinner at Cecconi's, the restaurant for which she does social media. It's very hip and trendy. They only let us in because we were with Allie and Keilan. I couldn't help but notice how many women with long, black hair were in attendance. It's partly attributed to the Middle Eastern residents, but I think it's more the Kardashian influence. In Marin everyone is still trying to be blonde.

Sunday we brunched in Santa Monica, hit the Getty Center and had an afternoon drink and snack at the Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel. We sat in the garden, which reeked of money, new and old. Celebrity sighting was a little slow. There was only one "Housewife" to be seen. I still don't understand how a housewife can be famous.

My favorite part of the LA weekend was Sunday evening when Eric made a delicious dinner for Allie and some buds at her apartment. All Mill Valley friends, living in Los Angeles now. They have history together and are making more memories while they forge
their futures. So many laughs with them.

Monday morning we had an early breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien in Beverly Hills and then headed for the hills. The breeder is located at the base of the Sequoia National Forest, in Springville. Beautiful,but in the middle of nowhere. Ruby, the only piebald, was the first of the eight pups to leave home. The ride home in the car was exciting for all of us. None of us were sure what to expect. The temperature outside reached 105 at some points.

Eric and I were starving so we stopped at a Foster's Freeze where we were the only customers. We obviously couldn't leave Ruby in the car so Eric just walked in with her and nobody said anything. It was us with a dog or nobody at all. We got to Mill Valley about six pm, just exhausted.

The next couple days of pupternity leave were a blur, with getting up at night and adjusting to new routines. There's a reason 55 year old women can't have babies. It's called menopause. There's also a stamina issue. Caring for newborns is a young woman's game.

It’s been a busy time of bonding, pooping and peeing. We thought housebreaking was going to be so easy. Then Ruby started actually eating and drinking. In my mind the word "puppy" is now pronounced "poo-pee".  We saw the vet last night for the once over and he suggested more crate time. We also spend a lot of time outside. So far, it's working well.

I'm not afraid of the care-taking responsibility. I'm all about care-taking. I've lived with and cared for a boyfriend, child or husband since I was seventeen years old. I'm organized and can multi-task, plan and strategize. I know how to take advantage of nap time. Not care-taking is more of an issue for me. Taking care of myself has been a hard learned skill and I'm still not very good at it. 


I've been thinking about why I have blocked dogs since Hanna died six years ago. I’ve concluded that it has to do with my heart. Being a wife, being a mother, being a person, can really hurt your feelings. Going through a divorce is a loss. Shared memories are gone, possibilities for the future are aborted. It takes time to rebuild, reboot and recover. If your parenting is good you lose your children many times along the way. You raise them to leave you. How masochistic is that?


When your dog dies it’s unadulterated pain and grief. You mourn their company and unconditional love. You miss their smell. I was pregnant with Lucy when Albert, the Doberman, died of congestive heart failure. I cried every day for a month. I used to sniff his sweater. You’re setting yourself up for certain loss. Having a new puppy in the house evokes wisps of Hanna's ghost for me and Ruby’s favorite place to drink water is from Toby’s huge bowl. This ridiculous little critter has big paws to fill. Huge. Oh my. Here we go again…