Thursday, December 31, 2015

What a wonderful life.....

Ahhh Christmas. This year was a good one. I would prefer to just have it pass by unnoticed. Maybe if it could only be less rushed, less hectic, less exhausting.  But it is what it is. I accepted it's coming and made the best of it. Having Wesley come home from California and having Gerry off the week before made it way more tolerable and we had a great time together. Good food, good conversation, cozy movie watching, family visits. It was all wonderful. We didn't see many friends. This year was more about savoring every moment we had with Wes and enjoying time with her. Seeing family was important for Wesley. We only saw one friend over the holiday. She is there, thick and thin for me.

Tonight on New Year's Eve, Gerry is shooting a hockey game, Wesley is with her California family and I am alone in a very quiet house with the endless rain falling. A hot shower, a glass of wine and a movie are waiting for me to finish this post. I like this.

I listened at work today of everyone's plans for tonight and I was glad for my quiet evening. I have never enjoyed New Year's celebrations.

I got this sweet camera for Christmas. It has rained forty days and forty nights, so I haven't shot much outdoors. If the sun ever comes back to North Carolina, I'll get out there in it. Meanwhile I just practice shooting inside. It's nice to have a real camera again. My iPhone is adequate but not as much fun. Except for instagram.

I made Wesley and Gerry a book through If you want to make a photo book, its a great website, user friendly and fairly priced. The book was mostly photos of times that Gerry and Wesley have spent shooting photos and having fun together. Just a reminder of what an important relationship fathers and daughters have. In turn, Wesley gave us a book she made, hers was handmade and more precious, with photos of her road trip to California. I have carried it with me and shown it to anyone who will sit for a moment and look at it. What a beautiful handmade treasure.

We got up yesterday at 3am and what a hateful thing that is to have to do. Get up that early and take your child to an airplane that is going to propel her 30,000 feet in the air then take her 3000 miles away. It sucked. We were very sad to see her go. There were promises of her coming back soon, and I will hold her to that.

I know a child has to get out there and live their own life, find their way in this world, but mom and dad sure suffer for it. I only wish my daughter happiness and health and a fulfilling life. Just wish it was down the road and not across the country :)

I really do have a wonderful life. No doubt about it. My family is great, my health has always been pretty good (except for this stupid arm thing), our house is warm and cozy, I love my job. My friends are kind. What more can you ask for.

I have thought about the obligatory list for new years resolutions. Can't decide what should be on it and why to really bother anyway.  I was thinking I might like to shoot one instagram every day, or one photo every day for one year. I'l skip the exercise resolution and better eating one, that never works out for me, maybe I will try to be more tolerant, I have been cranky with a few folks at the store, maybe I will try to be more inventive cooking this year. I want to get back to making. Get my loom back in action. I found a great workshop at Arrowmont I might sign up for. Who knows. Lots of maybes and might ought to here. Maybe..... my year will be about uncertainty, haha!

Here's wishing all of you an amazing 2016. May it be all you want it to be and more!!!
Happiness and best of health to all of you!

Peace ya'll

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Choose to stand in the wet moss and breathe

As you may know from reading this blog over the past years, Christmas and I do not get along that well. It occurred to me last year, after watching a Belk Department Store ad just why I have a problem with this holiday.

The doorbell rings. The house is a beautiful southern mansion, white, two story, black door, columns on the porch, lanterns light the doorway, just all southern charm. A beautiful woman with long silky blond hair, perfect smile, lovely red dress on, answers the door. The guests enter the room, warm and glowing with candlelight, the tree is decorated with gold and red, the table set and adorned to perfection. Everything shimmers and sparkles. The Christmas music softly plays. Packages are wrapped with promises of amazing gifts to be opened and treasured. 

I watched these ads as a child and this is what was promised to me. A Christmas just like this. I would sit alone in our living room at night, the Christmas lights blurring slightly as my eyes grew heavy with sleep, and dream of this perfect world. A world I would never know as a child. I would get my mother's nicest china cup, make myself some tea, get some cookies and pretend to be in that perfect world. My own little dream world.


The reality instead was much different, and I won't go down that bleak road. But what we are promised for this ridiculous holiday madness and what we get in reality are entirely different and it is a mindfuck for me every year.  This is a Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus and it has become a retail race to get to black Friday and spend a month in sheer agony and exhaustion spending money.  I love the idea of Christmas, the warmth and glow. The special gifts. But does anyone really experience that? 

I try very hard to create Christmas memories for my family, to have a house that is warm and cozy, food that smells good and tastes delicious, gifts that are remembered and special, moments that are calm and peaceful in the midst of crazy.  I want candlelight and soft Christmas lights on the tree, meaningful ornaments, quiet music. I want that damn Belk ad. Creating that ad wears me slam out.

With all the effort to make Christmas memories, there are still disappointments, arguments, tears. There is the ache of missing a parent or a loved one that has passed and in our case, also a parent no longer coherent.  There are headaches, body aches, tiredness, stress, longing for a past that is gone. There are moments when you think of the world out there in so much turmoil, so much suffering and no end in sight for it all. The people that will be alone with no one to get them that special gift. The people that have to go get their chemo treatment because our planet is a sewer. The people that walk miles for water, have no home, have no families. Where do you put all of that in your mind?

I sat at my kitchen table late in the day, with overwhelming sadness. And I looked outside at the light that was coming through the skeleton trees, the green wet moss on the ground, the shimmer of the raindrops still thick on the branches. The air is warm here, the weather odd and scary. I took off my socks, rolled up the legs of my pajamas, and walked outside to stand in the warm spongy wet moss as my day came to a close. I needed to feel something else. I needed grounding.

I just took one breath after another and chose happiness over the darkness I wanted to sink into. I have been with family members this week that have given in to the darkness and I refuse to go there.  I can't help them out of their darkness. Only they can choose the light. I can be happy. I can appreciate the gifts I have been given. I can maybe bring happiness to someone else. I can love my family and my friends and be there for them. That's all I got.

It has been a very short visit with our beautiful child. A visit full of laughter, good food, quiet time together, visits with friends and family, but also times of anxiety and uncertainty and frustrations. I don't know where her journey will lead her, I can't take her there. I can only stand her up. point her down the road and hope she chooses to stand in the wet moss, breathe in the air and open herself up to happiness and find her way, strong and confident and fierce as a lion.

Gerry gave me a new Canon digital camera, so after tonight, visiting with my ghosts, I will lighten up and start posting some nice photos. We had a wonderful day walking along the Eno River. Up next....

Thursday, December 24, 2015

My gifts this year....

This year my favorite gifts didn't come from a store. They were not hand made crafts. These were gifts that last. Gifts from two of the most important women in my life. Joyce, my mother in law, and Wesley, my daughter. 

It has been so great having Wesley home. Today we cooked the most incredible meal together. We made a vegan Indian feast that would rival any restaurant around here. We cooked all day and had a lovely dinner then opened gifts Gerry's dad sent home with us. Just having her home and seeing her laugh and eat and enjoy the excitement of Christmas is all I could ask for. 

Wesley received a journal that Joyce had completed in 2002, a journal that I had given her in 1999 for her birthday. It was a prompt journal that helped tell a story of a mother's life. It took her three years to complete and it has been saved for Wesley all these years. It is full of wisdom and happiness and stories of her childhood. It is a treasure! What I would give to have something like that from my grandmother. 

We went to visit Joyce in the nursing home this week. She is physically pretty healthy, all things considered, but her mental state is not good. Her sentences are mostly babble, but every now and then she comes in to focus and says something that amazes us all. You can see her in there behind those beautiful kind eyes. I could just sit and stare at her all day. I feel her wisdom and her kindness even if she can't communicate with us. You just feel her pure energy when you are with her.

Yesterday, she looked at me and said, "that's Tracey". Yes, I cried. That was a gift like no other!
This woman is so very dear to me. I just love her.

The was a selfie I took of the two of us when she was still at home. We were laughing so hard, this was the best shot I got. I took care of her that week while Gerry's dad was in the hospital and I had such a great time being with her. I miss her so much.

Gerry's dad is with her every day.  He misses his wife. It takes its toll.... he has known her since they were in first grade and loves her with a very fierce love.  The preacher and his wife.  You can see she still loves him and she reaches out to touch him, just to make sure he is there.... he is.

Gerry and I have had a difficult year, but we have had a lot of fun too.
He's been my best friend since I was 19 years old. Thick and thin, good times and bad.
We have had a lot of great Christmas mornings.
My gifts are many, my heart is full.

Merry Christmas ya'll

Monday, December 21, 2015

Laughter and Tears

There has been much joy in the Broome house this past week with our girl child back home. Lots of laughter and being silly. Gerry and I made the now obligatory trip to Walmart yesterday. Dear God, they built this thing less than a mile from our house. When it was announced that it would be built we ranted and raved and expressed our indignation that it would come to our community. There are probably 5 or 6 receipts from there on Gerry's desk this morning. My how we changed our tune for convenience and saving's vile and distasteful to shop there, but I do, there it's said.....

I get bored easily walking around shopping, so I entertain myself. I found this red flannel hat on one of the shelves and what do you know, it matched my favorite comfy shirt. So I walked around with it on my head taking instagram selfies while Gerry tried to find stocking stuffers for his dad. I know I look like a fool, but a blissfully happy fool, haha!

Us Broomes have a taste for Kitch and so we went out in search of the tackiest Christmas lights we could find. This is my favorite, we found it a couple of years ago in Cary. I love the alien peeking out in the middle. Thank God for people that collect this stuff, I love it. It makes my heart soar to see tacky Christmas lights.
 Just so you don't think we have turned into the Griswalds, we have balanced out the tacky and the Walmart exposure with making our own pasta noodles and eating vegan this week. I found a perfectly great pasta maker at the thrift store for $8 and we have been making our own noodles. Super simple and the flavor is amazing.

The other night we had ramen noodle soup in my favorite Hatchville Pottery bowls. How many of you miss Hollis' blog?

Good news at work, I got a bit of a promotion and that has been fun. I am solely in charge of the visual look of the store now and I get to do whatever I want with the store merchandising (within reason and approval of the owner of course). No more checking in with a certain person anymore and it's nice to have autonomy without worrying about being second guessed. It's a lot more work and responsibility, but it's my wheelhouse. I got this.

I still really love my job, going on over a year now. Time flies, right? I have proposed to the owners some ideas I have for bringing in artists and musicians, reaching out more into the community and strengthening our brand through community involvement and creating fun events for the store. More workshops, more education, more community. I have a strong background in brand marketing and hope to bring that experience to my job more. I'm sort of trying to define my own role and it somehow feels right. Hoping it works out....

With all the laughter, of course some tears must come as well. There was a moment of adjustment having Wes back home. I have been super sensitive to everything since she left and my feelings get hurt at the least little thing. I wanted to walk down memory lane with her, she said "I don't want to go down that rabbit hole" and the first of the tears started. I heard that she hated her past, she just meant she wanted to look towards a bright future.

Then we made the mistake of having a breakfast table discussion after the democratic debate. WTF were we thinking. You cannot have a political conversation with an idealistic 22 year old and a cynical 55 year old photojournalist that has been covering politics and news for 35 years. There was stomping of the feet up the stairs, slamming of the door, and more tears. This time I was a rational understanding grownup seeing both sides and was able to offer mediation. I was very proud of my grown up pants and the wisdom I finally have to see all sides.

Did we all struggle in our 20's with so much mental turmoil about the state of the world? I feel so apathetic compared to Wesley now. There was a time I raged against the machine too. Now I just move out of it's way.....

More tears. My kiln is gone and in it's place a lonely tile pad where it used to be. This is such a forlorn sight to me. I had so much fun and excitement at this spot, so many days of shear joy, opening that kiln. Of course there were a few not so great openings but mostly, that kiln was my friend and I miss it.

I love this photo I snapped the morning after the new owner picked up the kiln. It seems to offer light and promise of a coming year full of unexpected happenings and a new future somewhere. At least that is what I choose to read into it. Looking forward to the rest of our Christmas holiday and a coming new year.

Wishing all of you the very best of whatever it is you celebrate, happy Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Atheism, whatever...... enjoy it all! My little corner of the world is bright.

Peace, ya'll

Thursday, December 17, 2015

All is well, safely rest.......

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.
Fading light, dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.
Thanks and praise, for our days,
'Neath the sun, 'neath the stars, neath the sky;
As we go, this we know, God is nigh....


For some reason the words to this song I used to sing in girl scouts keeps humming around in my mind. I remember being at the PeeDee girl scout camp somewhere in the Sandhills of South Carolina, taking down the flag at the end of the day, while all the little girl scouts sang this song. It was a beautiful moment at the end of each day while at camp.

All is truly well and I did safely rest this week. My girl is snuggled in her bed, in the room next to ours and it is bliss having her here. I picked her up at the airport Tuesday night, we got home around 11pm, fixed her some supper and then tucked her in for a good night's east coast rest.

Gerry had to shoot a game last night so Wes and I went out for a beer and some Indian food. She saw Lagunistas Little Sumpin' in the cooler and suggested it, recognizing it as a beer brewed in Petaluma Ca. near where she lives. I can't even believe I am saying, "where she lives in California". It is still very surreal to me.

So far, we have had some nice meals, trimmed the tree, sat up late into the night talking, watched a couple of documentaries on Netflix and have had lots of tea. Last night, we got to see the first rough draft of the music video she created and co-directed with Lazarus in San Francisco, and I have to say, the girl has inherited her dad's visual skills. It is black and white, full of imagery and is just eye candy to watch. I can't wait until its release. 
Gerry was full of praise for it, and that meant so much to Wes. 

It's raining this morning. 10:30 and my child is asleep in her bed. The house is twinkly and warm, the Christmas lights sparkle in the reflection of the glass and tree ornaments, there are smells of cinnamon and ginger and coffee and it all feels so cozy and safe from the outside world. I just want to lock the doors and never go out again.

I promised Wesley before she got here that I was working on my grownup skills and I would behave, not asking inappropriate questions, not using the words "you should", "what you need to do", or "if I were you", "did you brush your hair", "did you brush your teeth"..... aren't those the triggers that make you chew the inside of your jaw when you are with your mother? I know they are for me, and I am trying to respect my very grown up girl and honor her as a smart independent adult woman. So far, I am doing great, I haven't heard her breath seize up once.... yet :)

Its been a long four month journey for me. I have learned a lot about myself. I have mourned the passing of a little girl, and I have come to understand the importance of letting your child grow and the importance of building a new and different relationship with them as adults. My mother never learned to do this, she still treats me like a child, and I am 55 years old. If she never taught me anything else, she taught me how to let my girl grow up and find a way to enjoy being with her as an adult child.  I'm getting there. It's hard, but worth it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Here she comes......

Its been four months now since we have seen Wesley. The longest time we have been apart in 22 years. It has seemed a lifetime! Her flight gets in at 10pm tonight. I told her I would be in baggage claim and to look for the person with the biggest smile on their face. That would be me, in case she has forgotten what I look like :)

This past week has seemed maybe the easiest since she left. I have been so busy with Christmas shopping, working at the store, and keeping the house clean for showings. We had a showing yesterday and got very positive feedback, but still no offers.

 I did finally sell my kiln to a very nice lady. It was odd to go downstairs the day after she picked it up and look at the empty space where it used to be. giving up my kiln was really depressing. I have given up so much this year......

Work continues to be great. I love the people I work with and I love the marketing and merchandising responsibilities I have. It feeds those control issues so well, haha. It does limit my social time though. I see very few of my friends anymore. I only have one friend that really stays in touch weekly. One friend came by the store last night, and even then, I had very little time to spend with her. We were so busy.

It's odd how much my life changed this year. Many positive things, but many changes I didn't really want or ask for and I had no control of. Not having Wesley around has been way more challenging than I expected, and some days I felt as if I were in mourning. In a way, I guess I was. Sad for the loss of a little girl I will no longer have, sad to not see my grown girl experiencing her life as an adult. My chronic arm pain has really changed the way I do things. It is the most annoying thing that has ever happened to me. I have found some new exercises though that I feel are working. Vicki, I did get the arnica, it is great for relieving that constant throbbing, and I have started consuming turmeric with everything. It seems to be a miracle root and I intend for it to get my arm better! Anything to avoid surgery. Thinking my body knows best and I will let it heal itself in its own time. A friend of mine told me it took her two years of therapy to get relief from her shoulder impingement. Oh boy!

So, looking forward to a holiday just hanging around here, enjoying Wesley's very short visit and then I have added more hours and responsibilities at work for the new year, so we will see where that leads..... hopefully it will be a good 2016!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

At work....

Saw this great window display at the local Anthropologie this week. There was a time it would have totally inspired me to get out to my studio and make something. The Chatham County Studio Tour opens this weekend and I am so glad I don't have to be getting ready for it. My arm would never make it. But I do miss the excitement of having new work and sending it home with new owners....

Working in retail is a whole other  business and it is actually fun to help customers find the perfect gift for someone. I have loved getting the store ready and having it look festive for Christmas shoppers. I have actually enjoyed shopping for Christmas this year too.  I think the trick is to get out early and not go on weekends. Since I work on weekends, this is perfect for me. I do need to get out and see some artists now though. Enough with the mall!

I'm now selling my soaps at the store. I only brought in 30 bars to see how it would go and I sold four bars the first day, so I think it will be a hit. They are decadent, with skin nourishing ingredients and a fragrance of sweet orange. The soap lathers incredibly well and smells really nice. People seem to be liking them, I have a basket of free samples that are getting a great response. 

After my hydroponic lettuce harvest, I put in 18 arugula plants and I have been snipping larger leaves to bring home. My coworkers are also snipping, and the plants continue to grow and put out new leaves. It is by far the best tasting arugula I have ever had and every leaf is blemish free. I am completely hooked on the idea of growing greens indoors all year round!

That's about it, just working, counting the days until Wesley comes home and thinking of things we can do in the short time she is here. I do wish she would miss the east coast enough to come back, but she has her own life to live. I just stay busy so I don't have to think about it!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Happy Anniversary

This week marks the eleventh year Gerry has been with the Associated Press. What a trip that has been! He has been to the Olympics, covered Hurricane Katrina, the Iraq war, wild fires out west, major sports events, major storms, presidents, politicians, and countless other news events.

He is a hard working man, and my life has been scheduled around those events if I was actually going to spend time with him. The news does not stop for birthdays, holidays, and, dinners, family time. We just work around it.

Happy Anniversary Ger!

Gerry has been able to take Wesley to some of the events he has covered, taught her to see through a camera and yes, she has inherited his eye for a photograph. Too bad the news business has gone to hell, because she would have been working at a newspaper by now. Sadly, newspapers are dying and her dad strongly discouraged her from that path.

I've been cleaning out computer files and hard drives and came across some fun photos this week. Here's Wes and Gerry in the media room at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro. People pay so much money for those tickets, and they get to sit on the court. We would take Wesley out of school so she could go work for her dad during the tournament. Her teachers were very envious, haha! I figure she learned more there than she did in school during basketball time in Chapel Hill.

When the monks were here, they were so curious about cameras. Gerry loved this. They took photos and asked him how they were, so funny. They all had their phone cameras, but no one had a real camera.

Just before signing up with the AP, Gerry went to Iraq, embed with a National Guard unit in 2004. The most worrisome thing for me he has ever done in his career. I was scared every time the phone rang. He made some amazing photos and the Charlotte Observer ran full page stories every day on the front page. Back when a newspaper was still thriving.

I think this might have been Wesley's first time at the ACC.

Yellowstone, shooting wildlife and scenics. There is hardly one photo without a camera on them. Peas in a pod, those two.

Badlands in South Dakota.

This is Gerry's old Nikon film camera. It was funny watching Wesley learn to load film in it. I used this camera a long time ago, and putting film in it was just second nature. Back when there were less photographers and photography meant something. Nowadays, everyone is a photographer with instagram and Facebook and smart phones....  there is no filter anymore. Trying to make a good photo with a film camera is what separates the professionals....

Gerry got to shoot the last shuttle launch, one of his career highlights. What a career he has had.  Photojournalism has changed so much and is nearing a sad death. It ain't what it used to be, that's for damn sure. Gerry Broome is the last of a dying breed and I am so glad I was along to experience it all with him. There aren't many like him left!

Monday, November 30, 2015


Bought her a ticket for an airplane ride from San Francisco to Raleigh. Girl is coming home soon!
It will be much too short a visit, but I'll take what I can get. Giving thanks for small blessings..... it will be a nice Christmas!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Let Us Give Thanks.....

I wanted to start this post off by saying what I was thankful for this year. All I could come up with at first was that I was thankful that I had not punched anybody in the face this week.
I feel like I fell into a deep dark well and I'm reaching up for a hand to pull me out and there is no one there. The water just keeps rising....

Then I remembered Joyce....

We went to see Gerry's mom this week. She is in a long term care facility, nursing home, old people prison. She is also in a prison of her mind. She had back surgery in 2003, oxicodone was prescribed for pain, then more and more opiates, narcotics, prescription drugs were added to counteract the effects of that pill, and before you know it, there were literally plastic grocery bags full of mind and body debilitating prescription drugs. At one time she was being given 14 pills a day!

The doctors like to call it Alzheimer's. I like to call it malpractice, resulting in drug induced dementia.
It is a pitiful destruction of the most amazing person that has ever come into my life.

And so, instead of being snarky, because I really am not in my happy place at the moment, I thought I would just take a breath and be thankful that Joyce Broome came into my life. She is the kindest, gentlest, most thoughtful person I have ever known. She was the kind of person that took time to listen to you, she looked right at you and paid attention, then thought carefully before responding. And her responses were always wise and considerate. I went to her so many times with problems, sadness, worry, and also joy and celebratory things and she was always there for me. She helped me raise a baby while I worked full time and traveled all over the place. Her influence on my child runs deep and I am grateful for it. Wesley will be a better person for having had Joyce for a grandmother.

Joyce was there for all of us. Every birthday, anniversary, Easter, Halloween, Christmas, we all got cards, a gift, a special treat. For Easter she would make every child and grandchild an Easter basket. For Christmas, she made all of us stockings and would spend days laying out all the things for each person on the guest bed, making sure all were equal and unique for each child. She got so into it, she had to trade the stockings for big burlap sacks. Each had our name on it and they were given out one at a time at the end of gift giving. What I would give to dig into that big burlap sack once more.

Joyce showed me how a mother should be, how a person should be, for that matter. Not that I always remember, I don't seem to be remembering much of what she taught me at all these days. But being with her this week, looking into her big brown eyes, still filled with kindness and curiosity, it reminded me of who she was and how much she filled up the hearts of each of us.  Even with her not able to form coherent sentences or take care of her own basic needs, she smiles. She reaches out her hand, her eyes twinkle, she searches for a memory, and she smiles. If only I could fill just a portion of her shoes. Impossible.....

I miss her terribly and I wish I could just spend one night on the sofa like we used to, talking until late in the night, laughing, crying, sharing. She made me a better person, and so for that, on this Thanksgiving, when I am not so much in the mood for this ridiculous holiday retail hell, I give thanks for my mother in law and the lessons she taught me. May I strive to be just a bit more like her.