City-County divide helps kick MLS out of St. Louis

It was an artist's rendering and that's as far as it will get.

It was an artist’s rendering and that’s as far as it will get.

Today’s lead story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch blamed the failure of the MLS stadium proposal on a large voter turnout in the City of St. Louis. That may be the case. But what really doomed the proposal is the same thing that continues to work against the St. Louis region as a whole – the separation of St. Louis City and St. Louis County.

We’ll never know for sure what would have happened had the two entities been one on this particular matter. So this is purely speculation on my part. Yet I’m convinced that had  St. Louis County been a part of this vote and had it been a single voting block of St. Louis County and St. Louis City instead of two separate entities, we’d be looking at a new stadium going up just west of Union Station.

As it was, passing two props was too much to ask of St. Louis City voters. With all that the City needs, putting the additional funding strictly on their shoulders was going to be a very tough sell. Helping to fund yet another stadium with a league that has been on shaky ground was a big enough leap of faith as it was.

Had the County been involved in the vote, even then, I’m not sure it would have passed and despite what St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said about looking for ways to collaborate, something tells me that the city location of the stadium would have been its downfall with a County vote added to the mix.

Only when the City and County join forces will we truly see regional cooperation. Alas, I don’t think that’s going to happen in my lifetime. The divide is too deep. There are way too many kingdoms in the County that will continue to look out strictly for themselves at the expense of the rest of the region.

I know it’s not that simple.

I was bummed when the Rams left but we sealed our own fate when somebody created that lovely little opt-out in the lease. Now I’m bummed that there won’t be an MLS team to root for during the spring, summer and fall. MLS soccer would have been a fun alternative and addition to the Cardinals and with the soccer-rich tradition of St. Louis, I think the team would have caught on very quickly.

The plan would have gotten my vote.

I hope that someday, another plan will.

 

 

 

Removing Blood On The Walls

A few of the 40 paintings I had on display at 1900 Park

A few of the 40 paintings I had on display at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery.

Yesterday was kind of a sad day as we removed the 40 paintings I had on display at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery and Blood On The Walls is now a thing of the past.

All but one of the paintings made the return trip home and as we were lugging most of them into our basement, it bugged me that they were losing their public viewing place. Many of them have been returned to the stacks of paintings I have accumulated through the years and now won’t even be seen by anyone who visits our household.

We had more than 250 people attend the “Blood On The Walls” opening night reception. It was a magical evening and people truly seemed to enjoy the paintings, the music and the good times among friends. I received many compliments throughout the night on the work.

But only one buyer.

It’s hard to say if the paintings were overpriced as art is hard to put a price tag on and I’m also well aware that almost every painting I create has rather strange subject matter. I try and paint ideas. I’ve been trying to create more story appeal with my paintings or at least more mystery as to what is going on in the picture.

But it’s not exactly living room art.

Still, I don’t paint to sell. I paint because I can. I paint because it’s like a gift I have been given – and if I don’t paint, I am wasting that gift.

So I will continue to pursue more paintings based on conceptual ideas and continue to try and get better at what I do. I have completed two new paintings since the show’s opening night on March 3 and I’m about to start a new one that I’m excited to see how it develops.

Speaking of how my paintings develop, here’s a mini-slide show that features some of the steps involved in the process … https://www.facebook.com/BloodLines-Art-904202009683682/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE&fref=nf

This last show I had was my first solo show in more than 21 years. There’s no telling when the next one will be – hopefully sooner than 2038!

For now, if you went to the show and saw something you liked, it’s still available for purchase. You can see a lot of my work when you visit http://tom-blood.pixels.com

On that site you can also order prints of my work (at much lower prices than the paintings) as well as purchase my art on tote bags, iPhone cases, pillows, coffee mugs, t-shirts – even shower curtains.

Available for purchase at http://tom-blood.pixels.com

Available for purchase at http://tom-blood.pixels.com

Available for purchase at http://tom-blood.pixels.com

“Balloon Girls” throw pillow – http://tom-blood.pixels.com

20170209_180726

“Head In the Cloud” iPhone case – http://tom-blood.pixels.com

I invite you to explore the site – in less than a year, it’s had almost 10,000 visitors from around the world and I’ve made sales from California to New York so you’d be buying work from a nationally-renowned and internationally recognized artist if you do make a purchase.

Or, if you’d like to free a painting from the depths of our basement, let me know what you like, make me an offer and perhaps I’ll agree to let you give it a new home.

In the meantime, it’s back to work.

 

 

Get a room, Volkswagen!

Life's as big as you make it.

Life’s as big as you make it.

Volkswagen has a new commercial that I have already seen about 10 times and though I’m a fan of Dean Martin, I’m not a fan of this commercial.

Set to Dean’s rendition of “The Birds and the Bees” this spot was probably considered ‘cute’ and a throwback to VW’s days as a bit of a rebel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyPbpU3Smhg

Back in the hippie days, a couple going at it in a VW bug may have made sense. But with this timeline, it doesn’t really go back more than 8 years or so and the couple portrayed don’t exactly seem like they’re counter-culture. Dad just seems to have a weird thing about procreating in very tight spaces – rockin’ away in the VW bug at first resulting in a trip to the dealership for a larger VW. The process repeats itself and the happy, growing family continue to have mom and dad go at in the confines of their car. It concludes with another VW rocking away – presumably VWs are very fertile places – only it shows the entire happy family inside the vehicle causing enough of a commotion that they’re causing the car to sway back and forth on its apparently not very sturdy frame.

The commercial ends with the statement, “Life’s as big as you make it. Introducing the all new 7-seater Volkswagen Atlas.” Oh, I get it.

This commercial is trying too hard. Personally, I find it kind of obnoxious, too. In-between all of the Viagra and Cialis commercials, I now get this couple that loves to breed in a bug.

I’m not sure what the key selling points of the Volkswagen Atlas actually are. There are all kinds of vehicles that can seat 7 or more so that isn’t much of a sales pitch.

To me, Volkswagen simply isn’t getting enough bang for their buck.

And I certainly would never want to ride in the back seat of their vehicle.

Getting ready for Show time

Blood On The Walls is the aptly named title of my upcoming solo art show at 1900 Park - Creative Space and Gallery.

A portion of the invite created for my upcoming solo art show.

I’m glad there’s still a fair amount of time until my first solo art show since 1994. I’m going to need it.

The Opening Reception will be on Friday night, March 3 – still more than 40 days away yet it seems much closer than that to me. Once I had heard that 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery was willing to give me a solo show, it sent my planning wheels into motion.

That was back in early November which now seems like a long, long time ago. I knew that I needed to wait until after the new year came and went before pushing out in too big a way. But now that January is in its final week, it’s time to start ramping up the planning.

Invites were created and a good deal of them have been sent out – but not all of them as my list continues to evolve. Since Tom Jr. is going to be the featured musical entertainment the night of the opening reception, we were initially calling the evening, “The Tom Blood Experience”.

Though I liked the title, it didn’t quite seem right to me. Plus, the show will be up throughout most of the month of March and just calling my artwork ‘The Tom Blood Experience’ wasn’t making sense to me. When you have a last name like mine, you might as well capitalize on it – thus ‘Blood on the Walls’ seemed to be an interesting and memorable name for a collection of my artwork that would be hanging on the walls.

So I went with it.

I intend to try and showcase some of the many objects that my art can appear on as well – pillows, iPhone cases, greeting cards, tote bags – the bright, colorful and often quite weird subject matter of what I paint just might be a good conversation starter. So I’ve ordered a number of items that we’ll have on display the evening of the event.

Here's a little card that a husband or boyfriend can send to their significant other as a means of apologizing. I wrote some copy for the insides that turns this into a pretty cool card and will have it on display at the show.

Here’s a little card that a husband or boyfriend can send to their significant other as a means of apologizing. I wrote some copy for the insides that turns this into a pretty cool card and will have it on display at the show.

Something's Wrong with America throw pillow. No, I won't have this one at the show, but there will be another one that looks pretty cool.

Something’s Wrong with America throw pillow. No, I won’t have this one at the show, but there will be another one that looks pretty cool.

So far, the biggest challenge is figuring out just how many people are going to show up. That’s always your biggest fear – “What if we have the show and nobody comes?”

I don’t think that’s going to happen. Rather, it’s trying to figure out, “What if we have the show and everybody comes?” 1900 Park isn’t a huge facility. Still, I think they can handle a crowd and I’m sure they’ve had big turnouts before.

So we’re trying to figure out a food and drink allotment and be ready for anything.

Choosing which particular pieces I’m putting into the show remains a work in progress as well. There will be more than 30 paintings on display. Just how many, I’m still not quite sure. But each one will have a title, a price tag and a brief explanation as to what in the world I was thinking when I created it.

I'll try and give some kind of explanation as to the meaning of this painting at my upcoming show at 1900 Park on March 3rd.

I’ll provide some kind of explanation as to the meaning of this painting at my upcoming show at 1900 Park on March 3rd.

There’s a lot more that’s going to go into this show. Tom Jr. has to work out his playlist. We’re ordering specially made t-shirts for the event (that will also be available for online purchase), There might be hand-outs and who knows what else.

So as of now, time is on my side. I’m excited about the opportunity. And even though February only has 28 days, it’s going to be a long, long month.

2016 and beyond for BloodLines Creative and BloodLines Art

So on this last day of 2016, I take a few moments to look back on the year and try to project what lies ahead for 2017.

Business wise, it was a good year. Not a great year. But a good year. I worked with a variety of new clients, lost an established one and still maintain ties with a long-time relationship which is very rewarding.

Though not a paying ciient, the invite that I created for our SLUH 40th Year Reunion was great fun and so was the Reunion weekend.

Though not a paying ciient, the invite that I created for our SLUH 40th Year Reunion was great fun and so was the Reunion weekend.

I created a number of videos, helped re-vamp one client’s website and we’ll soon be launching a new branding effort for another one. I began blogging for one client, worked on some PPC ads and I’m in the midst of working on a new TV and radio campaign as well. (Sorry for not naming client names – I only do that when I have permission and for this particular piece, I’m not even bothering to ask.)

On the art side of things, I was happy with the progress I’ve made as a painter. I created 11 paintings in 2016 – I don’t exactly churn them out, but I do stay at it and I continue to try and improve my brushwork, executing a variety of ideas that come from all places but always seem to circle back to Magritte in one way or another.

This painting was probably my favorite one that I created in 2016. It will be one of more than 30 on display at a solo show coming up in March.

This painting was probably my favorite one that I created in 2016. It will be one of more than 30 on display at a solo show coming up in March.

I began to more actively market my art this year as well. I now have two websites devoted to my art: http://bloodlinesart.com and http://tom-blood.pixels.com

The first site looks nice but has basically been useless due to a lack of promotion on my part. The second site enables you to take your art and have it show up in the form of pillows, tote bags, iPhone covers, coffee mugs, greeting cards and a variety of ways to order prints. That site continues to draw about 25-50 visitors a day and I’m approaching more than 8000 views since I started it back in July. The sales effort though has been somewhat disappointing – I’ve made enough to pay for the site but that’s about it.

Nuts and Bolts - one of my 'stick' paintings looks really cool in the form of a pillow and I've sold a few of them in 2016.

Nuts and Bolts – one of my ‘stick’ paintings looks really cool in the form of a pillow and I’ve sold a few of them in 2016.

There are more than a million works of art on the website. So I’m not overly surprised that my work isn’t selling like gangbusters. I don’t do art for a living. I do it for fun. I do it because I can. And I will continue to try and get better with each painting.

Prospects for 2017 look solid for both BloodLines Creative and BloodLines Art. Currently, I have a number of projects already in the books, some that will be on-going thru the Spring. I’m hoping to have my website fully optimized by the end of January and then I’ll begin more aggressive new business pursuits.

I hope to ramp up my blogging efforts in 2017 and have them be more focused on advertising and art. I dropped off the blogosphere and I’ve lost a lot of regular readers. Hopefully, I can earn them back.

I’m going to be ramping up for my first solo art show since 1994 over the next two months. It’s going to be at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery. It’s both an art gallery and a music venue which will be awesome as I’ll have more than 30 works on display throughout the month of March. Opening night is going to be on Friday, March 3 and feature the music of Tom Blood, Jr.

More on that will be coming.

1900 Park will be the site of my first solo art show since 1994. Opening night will be on Friday, March 3rd.

1900 Park will be the site of my first solo art show since 1994. Opening night will be on Friday, March 3rd.

I have learned in this business that you never know what’s around the corner. You do your best, try your hardest, be honest with the people you work with and have fun in the process and generally, good things will happen. I have been blessed to work with so many gifted individuals through the years. I continue to learn and explore new ways to market – but bottom line, whether you’re doing a website or online ads or developing a trade show booth, you still need big ideas to stand out, get noticed and acted upon.

I’ve still got a lot of those.

Happy New Year and I’ll see you on the other side of 2017.

 

Close Encounters of the Pokemon Kind

Pokemon Go gets people out and about - but only paying attention to their phone.

Pokemon Go gets people out and about – but only paying attention to their phone.

 

The workout facility where I usually get my calorie burns is closed for a few days this week. So I set out for a little 5-mile walk in nearby Des Peres Park, only to be engulfed by a multitude of Pokemon GO players trying to find whatever Pokemon character that had been geo-located into the park that day.

It was a very bizarre experience.

I’ve heard about the popularity of Pokemon GO but I never really experienced it before yesterday. I went to http://www.pokemongo.com to get a little overview and I watched the video on their home page. It’s actually a pretty cool idea – using the interactivity of your phone as a geo-tracking gaming device to find Pokemon characters not just in your area, but all over the world.

Magical.

The reality was a bit different.

As I tried to stroll through the park, there were literally hundreds of people – mostly teens in clusters of three or four walking all around, all staring at their phones as they moved about.

Upon arrival, I immediately knew that Pokemon GO had lured them to the park. It’s what you call a Poke Stop. That’s not a bad thing. But most of them had their heads down as they were walking. You had to avoid them – they were oblivious to your presence as they searched the park for Pokemon characters in their habitat.

I saw a few people on bikes, riding and looking at their phones at the same time – a certain recipe for disaster. I had to step out of their way as they went by. There were a few others on skateboards, heads down, searching their maps, looking for where they might be able to throw a Poke Ball and up their level.

It wasn’t all teens, either, who were transfixed by their phones. Lots of adults were in on the hunt as well. I saw a mom, pushing a stroller with two babies in it. Her concentration was entirely focused on the phone.

You can’t really complain about a game that gets you out and about, off of the couch and out of the house. It also gets you to explore and maybe go places you haven’t gone before.

It’s just when you have hundreds of people doing the exact same thing and their entire focus is the phone, it makes you wonder.

Mark Twain had a quote, “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”

Put Pokemon GO in place of golf and that pretty much sums up my feelings.

How about you?

Extending the BloodLines brand

Besides being an owner of my own advertising/marketing agency, I have two main hobbies: golf and painting.

I love doing both though it seems that this year, my golf skills are in the deteriorating mode.

Painting on the other hand, is getting slightly better since I picked it up again a little under two years ago. Since that time, I’ve done 18 different paintings.

And sold one.

That brings the total number of canvases in the Blood household to somewhere around 60-70 paintings. Long ago, when I had several gallery showings I sold about 12 paintings overall. I have never painted to earn a profit. I paint because I can and something tells me it’s a talent (miniscule though it is) that I shouldn’t let go to waste.

At the same time, all these paintings sitting around in our house, many consigned to the storage area of our basement where they sit around collecting dust really aren’t doing anyone any good at all.

So recently, I’ve been trying to up the ante to put a little more effort into selling some of my works. I joined ArtLoupe, which has been very good to me, showcasing a number of my paintings via their tweets. ArtLoupe is an app that’s a free download for your phone https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/artloupe-buy-and-sell-fine-art/id1027498940?mt=8 and it features new artwork daily. I have quite a few paintings on display but I’m not quite sure how to find me. Maybe you can figure it out.

Another effort that I’m just now beginning to have some fun with is my new Fine Art website: http://bloodlinesart.com/

It made sense to use BloodLinesArt as the name of the website. Eventually, it will link back to BloodLinesCreative.com and even though the two are separate, they’re still related.

I really like this new site, especially when viewed from my mac. If you take a visit and click on ‘Works’ you can see a lot of my paintings. Click on View all and the entire roster loads on the page. Then you can click on any one of them and they come up on screen nice and big. I really like my “Nuts and Bolts” image on the site – the photography shows up amazingly well and you can see what a strange piece of art this really is, featuring hand painted nuts and bolts embedded into a sea of blue.

All but two of the pieces are listed as being for sale.

To date, no inquiries though I plan on adding an e-commerce element to the site later on and I’ve also been contemplating turning some of my paintings into t-shirts and other assorted wearables or offering posters of them as well.

All in an effort of doing a little house cleaning.

In the near future, I also plan on contacting a number of local galleries and seeing if I can’t convince someone to offer me a show once again. The shows I had back in the early 90s all made money for the gallery owner and for me and I think the same would occur again if given the chance.

Art is meant to be seen and enjoyed and from what I’ve been told, people really enjoy my art once they see it.

We just don’t get a lot of traffic in our basement.

Snotes on the rise

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Snotes – not because nothing has been happening but rather, I’ve been too busy working on the account to have the time to blog about it.

Snotes stands for Secret Notes. It’s a form of anamorphic messaging that has been around since the days of da Vinci but thanks to a patented technology, allows a user to create a Snote by typing in their message on the Snotes generator that lives on snotes.com and in under a second, your message is magically created – able to be sent via email or posted on Facebook or texted to your friends.

This is an actual Snotes LoveKnots necklace featuring Chris' initials and mine intertwined together.

This is an actual Snotes LoveKnots necklace featuring Chris’ initials and mine, intertwined together.

The fun thing about Snotes is how many potential uses they have. One such use is shown in the necklace you see above. We call them Snotes LoveKnots and we’re just now beginning to take orders for them. What you see in the photo are four sets of initials – CMB, THB, CMB, THB that are intertwined together and put into a sterling silver necklace. It can also be done in gold and there are a variety of ways we’re working on to showcase the letters – raised, with colored backgrounds and with different borders.

A lot went into turning this concept into reality. We had to develop a way for the laser cutters to read the pattern that is created when four sets of letters are intertwined with each other. It took a lot of experimenting and a lot of back and forth but it’s finally been figured out and an initial batch of necklaces have been delivered to a number of people who are now getting asked, “That’s a cool looking necklace. What is it?”

It’s exciting for the wearers of the necklace to explain that it’s their initials and their husbands initials. Or maybe the initials of their grandkids.

Monogrammed jewelry is a big business in the U.S. – and this is a whole new way to do monogrammed jewelry.

We’re not just talking necklaces, either.

Snotes LoveKnots can go on bracelets, ear rings, key chains, belt buckles. And that’s just for starters.

Imagine a bride and groom using a Snotes LoveKnot on their wedding invitation. And then having it on the napkins, glasses and even the cake at the reception, followed up by Thank You cards and personalized gifts for the bridesmaids and groomsmen with their names and the date of the wedding.

If you’re interested in an even wider range of how Snotes might be used, visit http://snotes.com/licensing-opportunities/ and explore our three key categories: Business, Consumer Products and Education.

We are truly excited about the potential for Snotes. Teachers have discovered the fun of using them in the classroom for games and quizzes and are making plans on incorporating them into next year’s lesson plans.

Our website visitation has been exponentially growing.

In about three weeks, we’ll be attending the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. We have a very cool looking booth that will showcase our full range of Licensing Opportunities. We also have prearranged meetings with some major companies that have shown interest in partnering together that could potentially accelerate the growth of Snotes in ways that might be hard to fathom.

Snotes are on the rise. It’s going to be fun to see how this story continues to unfold.

 

 

A return to the MySLArt.org 33 Show

Last March I decided to begin showing some of my art again and was happy to be chosen for the MySLArt.org 33 Show.

Every month, 33 artists get to display three of their works in the Old Orchard Gallery. There’s an opening night reception and the show stays up for a few weeks and it’s always a very eclectic mix of art. I was thrilled and honored at the last show when I received both the People’s Choice Award and the Juror’s Award – one of the few times that has happened at their shows.

So I’m entering again. Two relatively newer works and one old favorite. All three are quite a departure from my surrealist pursuits and after hanging the pieces tonight, it was fun to hear some of the comments on all three.

My tribute to Jackson Pollock done my own way.

My tribute to Jackson Pollock done my own way.

The featured image in this post is called “Nuts and Bolts”. I’m not really sure this is a painting. But it’s definitely art. When our family was in London, the boys and I made a visit to The Tate Modern Gallery. There you’ll find all sorts of modern art – some pieces absolutely amazing, others leave you scratching your head. I decided then and there that I was going to explore some utterly simplistic concepts and see what happened.

One of my initial thoughts was to see if I could come up with an extension of the first painting I ever sold back in 1984 at my first gallery showing. I was so thrilled to have a show and even more amazed when the gallery owner, who took a flying leap of faith on my unproven works, came up to me and said, “Well, you got your first sale!”

“Really?” I asked. “What was it?”

The gallery owner replied, “Sealed for Your Protection” – and I was amazed. That painting came about because I had a small canvas sitting around and I didn’t know what to do with it. I decided on a whim to smother it in every paint color I had, globbing it on with a palette knife, making a colorful mess of the canvas. But that seemed kind of dumb. Looking around my sloppy painting area, I noticed that I had all these little tabs from the tops of airbrush paint bottles. I picked one up and looked at it. It read, “Sealed for your protection”.

Perfect. I stuck about 60 of them into the still wet globs of paint and they literally dried around the tabs. The tabs truly were “Sealed for your protection”.

I took that basic premise and started anew and decided to do word combos. The first one that popped into my head was nuts and bolts. I had an old can full of nuts and bolts, passed on to me from my dad and I decided they needed to be painted. So over the course of three evenings, I hand painted about 40 nuts and bolts, questioning my sanity along the way. But when they were all done and I laid them out on the blank canvas I couldn’t wait to glob on the paint with my trusty palette knife.

I love the end result.

So I continued on with “Nickels and Dimes”. This time I tried spray painting the nickels and dimes but the paint didn’t adhere so I went back to hand painting each nickel and dime. I like it but not as much as “Nuts and Bolts”. Next on the agenda was “Salt and Pepper”. I searched online for salt and pepper packets but couldn’t find what I wanted so the idea was stuck in neutral. I told Tom Jr. about my plight and he surprised me one day after a visit to a local diner with about 60 packets of salt and pepper.

That one is also on display at the show and it drew rave reviews tonight. For awhile, I went back to exploring more surrealistic concepts but recently a whole flurry of word combos popped into my head, demanding to be done. I just finished my most recent one called “War and Peace”.

My latest 'stick' painting is also my new favorite.

My latest ‘stick’ painting is also my new favorite.

 

I love this piece of art. Again, whether or not it’s a painting is debatable. But it’s definitely art.

I invite you to stop by next Friday night, April 29th from 6-10 pm at the Old Orchard Gallery in Webster Groves to see all the art on display at the MySLArt.org 33 April show. Every one I’ve been to so far has been a good time. Please. Do drop in. And ask me to tell you the story behind “Purple Splatter”.

 

A sad farewell to Annie, the dog

The sweetest dog I've ever known is no longer with us.

Annie, the sweetest dog I’ve ever known.

 

She was the cutest dog in the entire world and she lived in our house.

Annie the dog died on Wednesday morning, March 23rd. We think she was somewhere between 12 and 13 years old, almost 11 of them spent with us.

Annie was a rescue dog and we were the ones who came to her rescue, getting her out of a miserable existence and bringing her into our home.

In return, she gave us unconditional love. Every single day.

Annie was a rat terrier. Those two words certainly don’t connote cuteness. But this dog was cute – actually, beyond cute. When we first got her, she was white with brown spots. Those spots faded over the years but even in her old age, she still had the personality of a puppy. How fitting that our pupper chose to go on National Puppy Day.

Annie had many names. When Chris, her sister, Catherine and Tom Jr. first brought her home, her official name was AnnaBelle. But that was quickly changed to Annie.

She went on to be called DiDi, Donna, Ern, Sockhead, PupperButt, Annie Banannie, The Baby, Tippy and PupPup, just to name a few. She answered to them all, and each one has its own story attached to it.

God, how we loved that dog. Whenever we got home from wherever we’d been, we’d all rush to greet her. “She’s my best friend,” Catherine would say. “She’s my best friend, too,” I’d chime in. She was our whole family’s best friend.

I work from home and Annie was always at my feet when I worked. Last night, as I reached down to instinctively pet her came the crushing reality that she’s not there anymore. I was wearing black sweatpants that are still covered with short Annie hairs. So she hasn’t entirely left me. She never will.

Annie was a loyal dog, an unbelievably friendly, happy dog. She was a lap dog and most of the time, it was my lap that had the honor of her presence.

She had her moments – Annie was terrified of thunder – something we believe tied back to her time in the puppy mill where she was probably left outside in the rain. She would tremble and shake at the sound of thunder and her little heart would beat way too fast.

As she got older, we feared that her rapidly beating heart would give out on her and about a year or so ago, a visit to the vet revealed that she had a heart murmur.

So we got her on some heart medicine and hoped for the best but we all knew her remaining time with us was probably not going to be measured in years.

The boys are in college now. Catherine will soon be graduating high school and we hoped that Annie would at least make it to the fall so that if she did go, it would be while Catherine was away.

That’s kind of what happened – the timing just wasn’t what we anticipated.

Last Thursday morning, Catherine took off for a Spring Break vacation with her friends. Chris and I used that empty nest time to take off ourselves and we were on an unbelievable golf trip. We put Annie in the good care of Chris’ mom and dad who had watched Annie before. Their home was a home away from home for Annie. Driving her to their house last Wednesday night, Annie did her usual of sitting on my lap, looking out the window as the world passed by.

All was well and when I left, I bent down and said goodbye to Annie, not knowing it would be the last time I ever saw her.

On Wednesday morning, Chris got a tearful long-distance call from her mom and dad. They woke up to let Annie out. But that would no longer be necessary.

The pup-pup had died. Her heart simply gave out.

There were no dramatics. No mess. Just a little white dog, lying on the floor – her work was done.

Annie won the hearts of everyone who ever met her. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body. So the dog that had never done anything wrong passed away while we were all away.

Now there will be no more volleyballs to dribble around our back yard. No more squirrels, birds or rabbits to chase. No more tug of wars with her toys that she loved to fetch, return and then refuse to let go of in her awesome displays of toughness.

Our house feels so empty now.

She was 16 pounds of love, goodness and happiness.

As we were flying back yesterday to St. Louis, I knew we were returning to life without Annie. I cried when we took off. I cried when we touched down. I cried because of all the tears that I knew Catherine would be shedding as well. Our best friend is gone.

I mourn the loss of that little dog. But I am so grateful that I got to be a part of her life.

Annie changed our lives – 1000% for the better.

Rest in peace, little pup-pup. Rest in peace.