In 2002 we ran away from Illinois where we were born and raised, and started a new life in SW Florida. This blog is about me (an eccentric old artist), ROM (my Real Old Man), Isabella (our neurotic Standard Poodle) and Emmy (our crazy snake killing Jack Russell Terrier). Oh- and the neighborhood old people. Life is good in Florida!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I'm An Empty Nester...

You would have thought I'd learned my lesson to not mess with wildlife after my summer with the ducks (you can read the duck story here).  The sight of dead newborn bunnies and tore up nest sucked me in a few weeks ago. When I discovered there was one wee bunny that survived the attack by the feral cats I was hooked. So for several weeks I patrolled the yard day and night, looking for any cats lurking about and obsessively peeking into the nest to make sure the bunny was safe and sound. Mama bunny visited several times a day to nurse him but the rest of the time he was all by himself in the tiny hole. 

I staked out the nest so the mowers wouldn't drive over it and kill the wee baby bunny...


When the torrential rain began the other day, I suggested to ROM that we rent one of those canopy type tents to put over the nest. He said it would look like we were having a tent revival and the old people would start showing up with their Bibles. We compromised and put an old chair over the rabbit hole.  

When I checked the nest last night I discovered that our little bunny had left the hole and ventured out into the world.  

I'm sure he left because it was time and he had outgrown the nest. Nothing was disturbed or tore up like it would have been if the cats had returned to continue their murderous raid. At least that's what I'm choosing to believe. And now I'm an empty nester... life goes on...


Friday, March 21, 2014

My Son Died...

I've started 5 blog entries in the past few months. I'd lose my train of thought half through writing them so I saved them in draft with every intention of finishing them the following day- which I never did. But I'm determined to finish this one. I'll probably ramble so you may want to stop reading now. Lord knows, I wouldn't blame you. This entry is totally self indulgent- I just feel the need to write it, sometimes writing helps me let go of things and stop obsessing.  

The call I had been dreading for years came in December. ROM was on the ladder outside, he was just starting his holiday light stringing and I was in the house. Actually it wasn't a call, a friend of my son's pulled up in front of our house. I watched her get out of her car, walk up to ROM and talk to him. They then came in together. As soon as I saw her face, I knew what she was there to tell me. I remember turning away and walking out of the room, if I couldn't hear her say it then it wouldn't be true. But ROM followed me into the living room and told me my son had died that morning of a drug overdose. I don't remember much after that, the following days are now a blur to me. ROM dealt with the funeral home which was out of state and made the arrangements to have my son cremated. 

My son had been addicted to drugs and alcohol most of his adult life. There were countless treatment programs, brief periods of time when he was drug free, and too many relapses to count. He'd moved in with us so many times in the past 20 yrs., swearing he was going to stay clean and change his life but it never turned out well. Over the years I watched my bright, fun and witty son become a person I didn't even recognize. His addiction devoured the person he had been and the future he should have had. But through it all, I continued to get my hopes up every time he had a crisis and entered a treatment program, and each time he told me that this time he was really through with drugs I believed him. I wanted to believe him. I continued to hang on to the dream that someday I would get my son back... that I would live long enough to see him living as a happy and successful young man with a full life and career he enjoyed. I dreamed of him staying clean and having a family- a nice wife and maybe even some kids. The years slipped away until he was no longer a young man, he entered his middle aged years still deep into addiction. But still I hoped. 

On that day in December all my hope was taken away. There would be no miraculous recovery and no happy ever after for my son. His drug addiction had taken the very essence of his spirit, his intelligence, his potential, his values and morals, his dignity and now it had taken his very life. I can't begin to put into words the over whelming pain and grief that crashes down on you when your child has died. I've dealt with many deaths in my life- close friends, a husband and my parents. But nothing had prepared me for this death. My heart always broke for parents who lost children, but I realize now I had no idea the pain they were going through. It's just not something anyone can imagine unless they have experienced it. Even now after 3 months, it's the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing I think of before falling asleep. 

I'm trying to get back to some sense of normalcy. As my Twitter friend, Mary, told me- "fake it until you make it". And I added "act as if". So I'm making myself do some normal things- going to some area art festivals, stop avoiding the neighbors and actually chat with them, gabbing and being silly on Twitter, spending time in the studio every day even if it's just doodling... and watching over a rabbit nest. 

Last week when I took the dogs out for their morning potty I was horrified to find a torn up rabbit nest and dead hairless newborn babies. We have a real problem with feral cats in our neighborhood and it's not the first gory mess they've left for me. They also dig in our flower beds and crap in them. And walk on our cars at night. Nasty bastards. Anyway, I kept the dogs away from the area of the carnage and left the mess for ROM to clean up when he got home. 

This week when I took the dogs out we found a tiny little rabbit sitting in our yard. It had fur and it's little ears were up, but so tiny. Of course Emmy wanted to eat him but I kept the dogs away from it. After I had taken them back in the house, I went back out to look for the wee little thing but it was no where to be found. I kept checking through out the day but no sign of it. When I told ROM about it that evening we went out and looked around. We found a small shallow bowl shaped place in the yard and there was the little bunny all hunkered down. But no sign of mama which worried me. Had it been abandoned? I did some googling and found that our rabbits dig out a tiny area to birth their babies. They don't stay with the babies because it would draw predators to the nest, but the mothers visit the nest several times a day to nurse. The rabbit nest is so shallow I was afraid the mowers would drive over it and kill it. So I used my metal shish-kabob skewers as stakes and stung bright red Christmas ribbon on them to keep the mowers away. And I spend most of my time checking out the window to make sure there are no cats around. I was lucky enough to catch the mama rabbit visiting this evening to nurse the baby. She sat over the nest for about 10 - 15 minutes and then she was gone. I did notice that she tore up some grass and covered the nest and baby. I hope that's enough to keep him hidden from the cats. I got this picture of her this evening- 


I so want this baby to survive, thrive and happily hop away to live a long life. I couldn't save my son but maybe I can help save this tiny rabbit. 

I'm not going to even spell check this entry because if I do it will probably end up sitting in my draft files like the others I've started and abandoned.