Inktober, and goodbye to sweet, funny Debbie Sarow

For the last week or so I’ve been really sick and not making art, so I was grateful to Inktober for making it easy to get five words into one image so I can play catch-up a little easier.

Not sure what I caught, but two other people in my house caught it, too. They don’t have fibromyalgia, though, so they’re well over it. I’m going on day 10 and still coughing. Chronic illnesses drag out “regular” illnesses. If you’re used to getting over a cold in a week, with fibro you can extend that to two weeks, and then add on a recovery week where you’re not symptomatic but you just can’t move. It’s…..tiring. Weak, Scorch, Drain, and Swollen are words that all go to being sick.

Goodbye, Debbie, I’ll miss you

Breakable goes to what happened to my heart today, when I found out that Debbie had died. Debbie Sarow is – was – the owner of Mercer Street Books, my favorite bookstore in Seattle. It’s a tiny little thing, tucked into a long, narrow space right down the block from the Pagliacci’s, but when you stepped inside you were suddenly in a warm, welcoming, book-filled slice of heaven. Deliciously high wooden shelves line every wall and form three long aisles down the center, there is art everywhere (just look up!), and well-loved plants are perched on every available surface. I could live there quite comfortably.

Greg and Jason and I went in today, to sell back books, like we have a few dozen times before over the last eight years. Debbie always remembers us, and she and I would talk and talk. The routine was always us dragging in bags of books, then walking off to get dinner, then coming back to find she’d sorted through everything and had our credit ready. Then we walked around the store for an hour or so, shopped until we’d burned through our fresh credit, and headed out. Half the time Greg would be waiting by the door, our transaction complete, while Debbie and I finished our conversation. One time there was no one else in the store and he had to wait half an hour for she and I to be done (thankfully he had lots to read).

I didn’t know Debbie socially outside the store, so I will admit I was surprised at my own reaction to finding out she’d passed away. We came in to see someone else manning her desk, which was odd. Debbie was always there. I’d never been in the store when she wasn’t. The new person was helping another customer, so my eyes fell to the table next to the desk, where enticing new arrivals are usually set. Instead, there are pictures of Debbie, and a notice explaining her passing. Greg had gone to park the car, and Jason was standing, politely waiting for the clerk to be ready to help us. I felt disbelief, so sharp – this was so impossible – how could she have died? And then I burst into tears. I stepped behind Jason and hid my head against his jacket, and just cried.

For years I’ve known that I get so much out of the small exchanges that happen with the people I interact with every week in our neighborhood. It’s a vitally important part of my life, and its deterioration here is a big reason we’re moving.  Debbie was one of my favorite people. She was a link to the city, a link to books, to intelligent conversation, to a relaxed comfortableness that I just can’t find in hyper-busy, overcrowded Seattle anymore. She had a hilarious, dry sense of humor, and we cracked each other up. Bonding over laughter is my favorite kind, and we’d often said we should go get coffee. I wish we had! She was just a lovely person. I’m going to miss her very much. I’m so sorry for her family and friends, who had the chance to know her so much better than I did. Their pain must be very great.

When we left, I noticed Debbie’s hat and coat, still there. I loved her coats, she had great taste in clothes.

Goodbye Debbie! I’ll miss you. Much love, wherever you are. ❤

There are seven and a half billion people in the world

…so how I managed to find this one when I was 18 years old, is beyond me.

I was sitting in the living room this afternoon, trying to get some photos of the dogs. They’re such buds. But I had the wrong lens on, and I couldn’t get a wide enough shot. So I stood up and walked around taking pictures of everything else in the room. The one of Greg above is my favorite. He doesn’t look mid-forties to me, but then I still feel like we’re in our thirties. In my head, we stopped somewhere around 35.

My brain age-locked with my mom when I was a kid, too. At some point in my childhood, I asked her old she was. She said she was 32 years old. For the next decade and a half, she was 32. Or 32 and some random amount hastily added as a wild attempt at accuracy. A friend would ask how old she was and I’d say, “Ummm….like….32…no wait…like….34 maybe?” Mom would squint at me. My inability to nail this information down baffled her, since as any woman can tell you, entering your forties is an event you don’t exactly miss sliding by. You can slide into your thirties. Your forties, you’re sort of flipping over a few times and trying to stick the dismount. So how did I not notice it happen? I was there. I was a prominent feature at her birthday parties. And yet…..she was just always 32. Until I was.

Here’s me disturbing him while he reads:

I think it’s okay if I tell the internet that he’s reading Sense and Sensibility, which I’ve never read, and he keeps giving me updates on how the book is different than the movie version we like (the one with Emma Thompson, of course). Apparently, Lucy Steele is not the innocent she appears in the movie. I had no idea. The only Austen I’ve read is Pride and Prejudice. We talked about the social expectations of society in Austen’s time, which would have exhausted me in under an hour. I wonder what Austen would have thought of Facebook. Imagine Devonshire on Next Door.

The little rose from my Mother’s Day breakfast has pooped out. It sits in the little glass, leaning its weary head over. It’s not dead. It’s resting. (Into the compost, tomorrow.)

There were other good things, today. I noticed.

My friend’s wife, who really needed to get her cursed uterus out, finally did today. The financial burden is a real problem, so if you could spare a little, it would really help.

Somehow I managed to get an even 3000 steps on my FitBit, which is nifty keen because I’ve never had an even number before, and because it’s over my average of about 2500. I’m really happy about that. Last year at this time my average was 6000, which for me is the biggest illustration of having gone downhill in the past twelve or so months. But I’m still fighting this. And a 3k day is a day to celebrate.

While we were sitting outside tonight, we saw a hummingbird.

My sock is working! It’s time to make a heel. I’m thinking Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel. I’m nervous to try it, to try anything. Anything, from this point on, is new territory. I’ve never made a toe-up sock before. I don’t want it to all fall apart.

And finally, my daughter’s friends came over today, and called me Angel Mom all day. One of her friends had come out to his mom, and when I heard the news, I’d given him a big hug. Apparently the story of this hug spread. I got to hear today how I have a reputation as a loving and safe mom to both my kids and their friends, and that was, without a doubt, the best compliment I’ve gotten all year. There is a lot I can’t do, but this thing, I did right, and my heart just overflowed when I heard that. Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing here. To be very clear, I don’t mean that in any kind of dangerous way, I just mean, sometimes I look around and think, “I’m basically just sick all day. I can’t work, I can’t even volunteer anymore. Will my life really mean something in the end?” But when the kids were asking me for hugs and calling me Angel Mom, I finally felt like I’d really done something meaningful. It felt wonderful.