diy... mom's altaras... part 3

Mom's altaras are done, mailed and should be at their destinations. As you can see I added the little things at the bottom of the boxes. Nothing of great value but things Mom touched and used... little swan she put her rings in, a rosary in each one, a bobbin, some little hand blown animals... just little tiny things that make me smile and think of her.

My set sits on a little half wall ledge right next to my desk. I have very special things there. It is nice to have little bits of my parents life so close. I made these deliberately small so they could sit on a desk or bookshelf. I like them small because they are personal. Most people would overlook them but I get to see them daily and smile.

And today is the 1st anniversary of my Mom's passing. I am working on not being sad as it is also our Anniversary this weekend. Mom had Alzheimer's for a very long time. She spent the last year and a half in a hospital bed in the living room of my parents house with my Dad leaving before she was ready to go. I am thankful that my Mom could finally let go. I guess we are just never ready to lose our parents.

diy... mom's altaras... part 2

I start by choosing the photos that would be meaningful to each of my sibs. All of these have a black and white old photo on the top and a colored one on the bottom. I also pay attention to what photos went into my Dad's altaras. My sister who got the altara with my Dad in junior high gets a photo of my Mom at the same age. I am the oldest so my photos are of Mom and Dad and I.

If the photos are vertical and I don't want to crop them I wrap the photo on to one or both sides. After the photos are mod podged in place I fill in with other ephemera. I've added a knitting label because Mom knit, fabric swatch of stitches as Mom also sewed, a calling card from high school, the article from the paper on Mom winning the bowling tournament...

I put the holy card from the funeral on the right side of all of these boxes because I put Dad's on all the left side of his. That helps these be a unit if people choose to display them side by side.

OK... back to work now on adding the little 3 dimension things... must get to work as these all need to get in the mail very soon...

diy... mom's altaras... part 1

Over the Winter I worked on my Dad's altaras. I made one for each of my sibs and one for me. I sent them for the 1st anniversary of his leaving us. And now we are coming up on the anniversary of my Mom's passing and I need to get hers done and in the mail soon. I think these have been meaningful for us and I want to share with you my process so you can make one too if you wish.

As we were cleaning out their house I would collect little bits of their lives. You need paper things to mod podge on to the inside and outside of the boxes. You also need little things that are 3 dimensional. Since I am making 4 of these I am sorting these a bit by color of items. As I make the second set of boxes I am trying to make Mom's altara go with Dad's altara for each of the sets. I am also trying to make each set work together as a unit in case these all work their way home to my niece and nephew over the years. But they also need to be a stand alone piece too.

These are the outsides that are now done. For continuity I've put pages from Dad's old prayer book on the tops of all of Mom's and Dad's boxes and added a medal to each. All the outsides are the same and I used mod podge to affix all the paper items. I scanned this info because I would not have had 4 of these items. My Mom back in 1973 bowled in a tournament on TV and won. These are her winning scores from that game. The other side is a love note from my Dad to my Mom. Every child should find something like this after their parents are gone.

These are surprisingly time consuming. Lots of piecing things together like a puzzle plus everything you mod podge has to dry.

Part 2 soon...

If you have the directions...

Y ou can always go home. Pre GPS, pre maps on my iPhone, pre cell phone this is how I got places. (OK Nancy, Jane & Julie I can hear you laughing.) Anyone I have traveled with can attest to my absolute and complete lack of direction. Thankfully it didn't stop me from going places, often alone. I would just generally add in a half an hour or so because more than likely I would be lost.

All these pages were in a book in the glove compartment of the Miata.

And then I found this sweet set of directions. The top part is written by my Dad - how to get from home back to school. Then the bottom part is written by my Mom - how to get from school to home.

Now that they are both gone finding things like this that were tucked away somewhere are awfully nice to stumble upon.

Mrs. Meyer's Lavender Dish Soap

S mell and memory... linked together forever.

We had a call in to our realtor to make an offer on this condo we live in (the one I had stalked for 15+ years) when we got the call that my Dad had died.

Eventually we got the deal done and I'd go over and clean as workmen put in new windows, flooring, and took out a wall. Odd little things were left in the condo including rags and cleaning supplies. So these little bits of Barbara's life just folded into ours.

I had never used Mrs. Meyer's Lavender Dish Soap before.

I remember standing in the kitchen dish soap in hand, looking out at the blue lake feeling really sad that my Dad was gone. Every single time I now smell that scent I am emotionally right back in that exact same spot, seeing the blue lake, feeling so sad that my Dad is gone, but happy that I got here.

And all of that is now linked to Mrs. Meyer's Lavender Dish Soap. And how this particular lavender scent is now the scent of grief and happiness... and always will be.

Altaras for my Dad

O ne year ago today my Dad passed away. Sometimes it seems like he has been gone forever and other times it seems like he just left yesterday. My darling stepson Ryan scored 12 of these bamboo pencil boxes and gave them to me to use for something. I had always wanted to make little altar boxes. In Mexico they are called altaras and they are made to honor and remember the dead. As we have been cleaning out my parents house I sought out all the little things they had and used... watches, rosaries, pins, keys... Each box also includes the holy card from the funeral.

These have gone in the mail to arrive and be opened by each of my sibs today. I created these to be a little art series in case over time they are ever united. If they are fine, if they end up in the landfill fine. I really made them as part of my processing my Dad's leaving.

And while I am still deeply sad about Dad being gone this year's sadness is better than last year's sadness. This year I am just sad for me. Last year I was sad for both of us. I suppose that is a form of progress.

My little friend Dao...

Some years ago we lived in Rochester, MN for 3 years. We went there for John to build a TV station. I could not find work. With too much time on my hands I decided to be a mentor. And I got Dao who was 15. The night I met her I went to her house and met her mother and family and spoke through a translator hoping her mother understood that I would take this seriously and would be a good influence on her daughter. I remember leaving her house and looking up at the crisp, starry sky and knew without a doubt that I was in the exact right place at the right time doing the right thing. I don't think you get many of those life moments. Knowing her changed my life and made it so much bigger. We went back to Rochester for Thanksgiving and I had dinner with my Dao. She is now 27, works full time at the Mayo Clinic and goes to school full time to finish her business degree. I could not be more proud of her. And it pleases me to no end to know that once when she was young I was a large part of her life hopefully nugdging her to where she is now.

(Photo taken with my iPhone and blurred using the TiltShift app.)

Dad's Desk... Part 2

As I said Laurie would know what to do about Dad's desk. She ended up first washing it with Murphy's Oil Soap. I knew nothing about this soap, as well... I've never seen a piece of wood I didn't want to paint. So care of wood furniture is new to me.

Instead of refinishing anything she scraped off sticky, dirty stuff in a couple places as well as some paper that was stuck to the desk. She thought the finish may have been a shellac lacquer combo. So she went over the desk with denatured alcohol. While there are some worn spots there is nothing that bothers me enough to want to do anything more to it.

And now the desk is full of all my cute stuff. And Dad's clock. He liked clocks that synced with the atomic clock in Colorado.

And here are 2 of Mom's honeymoon suitcases. Cream and red leather with red bakelite handles.

It is a sweet little desk full of memories of my dear parents.

Here is some proof that we did not make Laurie work all the time.