I had been shopping at Oblation Papers, a stationer/letterpress/fun boutique since I don’t know when. A long time. I don’t spend a huge amount of money there, because I don’t have huge amounts of money. But once we started living nearby, it became one of my daughter’s favorite stops on our daily outings, and we’d check in with the bird (Watercolors–one of the first words she had down with r and l sounds in it), and she’d scribble some drawing that the staff would carefully attach to the cage in her presence, as if she were giving them a priceless work of art. (The staff knew us by name then. Watercolors knew pH on sight. Now it’s unusual to be greeted at all.)

Sometimes her drawings stayed up a few days, which was sweet. But these were the drawings of  2-3 year old, and no, I didn’t expect them to stay around long.

When Watercolors died, I had to sit pH down to break the news to her and she cried. Oh, she cried.

They have two new birds now, and the last time she was there, she drew a picture for them. (Drawing is not so much her thing, but it is important for her that the birds get a picture, so she is more patient drawing there than she is at home.) She asks me to take her to see them the way she did with Watercolors.

Imagine how much it made my day, weeks later, to go back to the store (while pH was at camp) to discover they still had her art on the cage?

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Enough to take a picture, as it turns out.

In a summer of suckage, this made my day/week/month. It doesn’t take much: I can delight in the little things. (I pretty much have to.) I really delighted in that one.

Here’s the “But…”

On my way home from an appointment this morning, I stopped by to purchase a specific type of journal. There was parking in front. I happened to have extra time on my parking. So I went to Oblation Papers, cruised by the birds and discovered the picture was gone. You know, that didn’t really surprise me. Why would they care to keep a kid’s picture around a few more weeks? (Except it hadn’t been replaced; it was just the ugly rusted cage.)

If it had been another day, another week, another month–it would have been a whatever moment.

But it’s this day, this week, this month. It’s the week where if someone asks me how I’m doing and I can’t blurt out “fine!” or “great!” in a cheerful voice in time, I might start sobbing (oh, blog, there is so much I don’t tell you).

This is a week of heartbreak. No, it’s not just the car.

Even though I felt sick imagining in my kid’s picture in their trash (it’s Portland so I hope it was recycled, at least), I got the journal I’d come for, waited while they figured out they’d misplaced my loyalty card (funny, that), and I left in a hurry–not even realizing until I got home that they hadn’t even bothered to give me the 15% off journals special.

Naturally.

So while Oblation Papers has wonderful products and some good memories…we’re in the market for a boutique with a bird. Any suggestions?