Tess Senay Raynovich Art & Earth Fund

Supporting artists and Eco-art 

Beauty - Love - Truth

Thoughts about these things in relation to art, life and Tess.

view:  full / summary

Indulgence is Not Necessarily a Bad Thing.

Posted by TSRartandearthfund@comcast.net on July 30, 2014 at 10:50 PM Comments comments (1780)

Sometimes, I worry that I am being self-indulgent, working to remember Tess in this particular way. We have done some things here at Tess’s fund; given out four scholarships, piloted a photography/photo editing program, presented an exhibit from that program, funded an eco-arts summer camp, and a few other things in just under two years since Tess died.  It certainly helps us to do this work and to honor Tess.

The ups and downs of building a fund can fill and rack a soul, a soul that is still very much grieving. I take comfort in knowing Tess would have liked the things we have been doing through the fund, but she would roll her eyes at the part of this that has her name, image and art out front. Modesty is an understatement when referring to Tess. I can’t imagine what she would think of my agreeing to exhibit of her artwork this past summer. Self-indulgent? Yep. But she would forgive me for taking comfort in these indulgences of memory, her art and  the beauty of who she was.


Many people, who had been fortunate enough to see the exhibit of Tess’s work at Sweetwater Center for the Arts, have commented on the wide range of her work. The exhibit was called Artist Interrupted and reflected her development as an artist: open to everything and seeking experimentation not perfection. She wanted everything, to know it, to feel it, to see if it could be part of her.

Art did not so much change Tess, as it spoke a secret language with her. In that place, where she worked her hands, eyes and mind toward the expression of an idea or feeling, she was perfecting her own dialect, strengthening her own voice. Having a voice to express yourself, to have your say about what confronts a person on any life path is what each of us needs.

So many, who knew her for years, were surprised by her work; oil, acrylic, pastels, photography, graphics, large, small, political, spiritual, funny and  lions, lots of lions. Through this exhibit some have learned that even when you know someone, love someone, you still don’t get to see the whole of them. We often skim over each other, getting only the cliff notes of each other. We are all very busy and even now, I probably have friends that I don’t know the half of.

I knew Tess. She was open and generous with me and not much of what was left behind was a surprise to me. She left paintings, photography, sketches and words. I am beginning to gather it all together, hoping to share her strong sense of self-determination, intense respect for the power of love and her hope with others.  I hope this future chapbook will help bring to mind a fuller portrait of this young woman for those who loved her. For us to have a little something more, after losing so much, might help.


“Tess was…” It is an impossible sentence to finish, words cannot translate her and “was” still stops and sickens me. I am so lucky to have been given 20 years with Tess and indulgently hope that through this fund we are giving others a very tiny bit of the kindnesses she would have offered the world, had her life been longer.

Nonprofit Management 101 Love, Focus, Breathe

Posted by TSRartandearthfund@comcast.net on January 28, 2014 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (78)

I don't know if the day will come when I don't think 'this is too hard' or go 24 hours without crying, in a way that suffcates and has to be relieved with the kind of breathing I first learned in Lamaze class. Perhaps I will, but for now that is part of my normal day. I can see now how my work with Tess's Fund (all of you who have supported it) has given me a way to think of her and care for her that doesn't crush me. I am more than grateful for this. In fact I can't imagine who I would be today with out this living memorial for Tess.

As we move into 2014, I feel a shift, a need for me to give to the fund as it has given to me. For me that means, taking up the challenge of finding my way, Tess's way, of making this fund meaningful and sustainable. I am doing research for strong programing, finding professional artists who also have a talent for mentoring others, and partnering with other organizations to make the best impact. That is the fun part, the not so fun part is the fundraising. Who actually likes to ask for money? I've learned a lot about the arts organizations here in Pittsburgh and the limited funds that everyone is hoping to recieve. It can be overwelming but then I think about Tess, about her kindness, about her love of the underdog, her talents that we lost just as she was coming to her vision of herself as an artist and I breathe. I remember that to make an impact in a way that Tess would be proud of is to open myself to her belief in being positive, kind and loving. 

We are small but focused! We are looking forward to our photography program that we will be starting in February in partnership with Youth Places . We will be asking participants to look at their own (enviroments) neighborhoods with an artistic eye, photographing the beautiful, the ugly, the serene and the unsettling. With the guidence of professional artist, Gail Manker, they will learn photography basics and use photo editing programs to enhance their artistic statement. We will post updates as we move along in the program.

Plans for the 2nd Tess Senay Eco Arts Camp are getting underway this week! Partnering with the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse is sure to make this year's camp very cool. 

And as far as my fundraising allergy, every time I get a shot of good work and someone learning a bit about Tess, the hives disappear and I breathe.

Love & Thanks

Tess's mama (aka Nancy Pants)

From Meghan Sheridan (sent to us on 10/28/2013)

Posted by TSRartandearthfund@comcast.net on October 30, 2013 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (311)

A year ago, at nearly this very moment, I was sitting in my living room, cozy and warm while the wind and the rain drenched the night outside. I was not so much "curled up" on my leather armchair as I was awkwardly balancing two separate nursing pillows, a back rest, my boobs, a newborn, and a book. I had just started re-reading a page for the seventeenth time that day when there was a knock at the door. Shawn and I immediately locked eyes, alert, eyebrows raised in worry. No one ever comes over at 9 pm in a rainstorm to tell you good news. Before exhaling, I found the rational explanation-- we'd likely left our minivan doors open again in the rain, and a helpful neighbor was alerting us to our harebrained (yet not uncommon) oversight. Shawn went out on the porch, while I returned to my book--- Sister, by Rosamund Lupton---a story about a young free spirited artist named Tess who has died, and her sister's emotional quest to solve the mystery of her death. Shawn returned to the living room a few minutes later. "I have some bad news. Nancy's daughter Tess was in a car accident this morning. She died." I heard the words coming out of his mouth, but could not immediately weight them with their terrible, awful import. In my post-partum haze I momentarily thought that Shawn was somehow referring to the Tess bound up in the pages of my crime fiction book club selection. The coincidence felt confusing, then uncanny. An instant later, I snapped back to reality and felt the physical roar of the tragic news fill up my entire headspace.

We moved into the house next door to Tess in the summer of 2009. Our houses are so closely situated that a more gymnastic individual than myself would probably be able to shimmy herself up to the rooftop Spiderman-style by getting a toehold and fingerhold on our facing exterior brick walls. I often saw Tess on her front porch, and exchanged neighborly pleasantries with her on my many trips in and out of my front door. Our relationship was familiar, but not deep. We talked about the weather, and my kids, and mostly said a lot of "hi, how are you? fine thanks." Once I stepped out of the house late at night, just as a friend of Tess' was pulling in to her driveway to pick her up. Tess came out of the house looking fashionable and fabulous, and (charitably? naively?) asked me if I was "going out" too, despite the fact that I was wearing sweatpants, slippers and no bra. "Just headed out to the grocery store," I laughed. "Like all the cool kids do at 11 pm." She laughed, and got into the passenger seat of a car (presumably) not headed for Giant Eagle. The only time I ever saw her anywhere other than her porch was at the Ross Park Mall, a few months before she died while headed to her job there. I was playing with my kids at the "robot playground" in front of Old Navy when Tess and I spotted each other, and both did a double-take. "Hi neighbors!" she greeted us. We laughed about how odd it was to see each other out of context like this.

It has been a year since she died. And every day, when I walk out my door, I reflexively look over to my neighbor's porch. And every day, for a year, Tess has not been there. My youngest daughter, Nora, was only a few days old when Tess died. I have been almost ashamed to show her to Nancy--- my beautiful baby a living measuring stick against which Nancy might measure Time Without Tess. I miss seeing her on the porch. I carry on with my days of school drop off and toddler playdates, and grocery shopping, running in and out of the house a hundred times daily. Each time glancing over, always hoping.

Dia de los Muertos

Posted by TSRartandearthfund@comcast.net on October 30, 2013 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (99)

Our friend, Marion Winik, wrote a great column on loss and Dia de los Muertos. For many people this is a holiday where they can openly show their love  for their lost ones. Tess loved the art of this holiday as you can tell by looking through her art. The TSR Art and Earth Fund created a store front ofrenda for Tess and supported Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse in promoting this holiday in Pittsburgh. Check out  Dia de los Muertos Pittsburgh on Facebook or look for activities your area. 

One Year Mark, What You Can Do and Words from Tess.

Posted by TSRartandearthfund@comcast.net on October 24, 2013 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (705)

One year ago today I was lucky to spend a beautiful warm fall day with Tess. We went to the South Side to pick out a coat that would get her through the Montana winter she would be leaving for in a few weeks. We ran into her friends, Shelby and Paul.

We went to Phipps Conservatory before joining some of my writer friends for dinner and then over to a poetry reading. Through out the day, Tess was happy and excited about leaving for Montana. She was also loving, thoughtful and kind to me, knowing how much I would miss her when she left for Bozeman. When we got to the poetry reading it was crowded and we only saw one seat, “That’s okay, I’ll just sit on your lap, Mama.” It was one of the best days of my life.

Five days later was my worst. As that horrible day approaches I wanted to ask that you remember Tess. Think of the beauty of all that she is, not was, to us, and her huge capacity for kindness and compassion. If you would like to do more, here are some suggestions-

Write down a memory. (Send to us if you feel you can)

Be friendly to someonewho is not like you.

Read “Warrior’s Reminder” by Eryka Badu ( you can find it here on the Who We Are page)

Do any of the 20 things on 12-year-old Tess’s list of Things I Will Do, especially # 20. (You can find it in the "Notes" section on the TSR Art and Earth Fund Facebook page)

“Like” the Tess Senay Raynovich Art and Earth Fund Facebook page.

Make a donation (tax deductible) to the TSR Art and Earth Fund. (523 Straight Street Sewickley PA 15143)

Most importantly Tess left us instructions on what to do. I found this written in one of her many sketch books:

Life is not living unless you have hope.

If I die tomorrow, if I die today

let it be known that I had hope, hope for myself & my achievements.

Hope for my life to be mine and one in a million. Hope that I would seek adventures.

If I did not have hope I would have no dreams that

would come true because I would never had hoped they would.

It is all you need and I hope

that you will see that.

I hope that you will love.

What's with the Rocks?

Posted by TSRartandearthfund@comcast.net on August 8, 2013 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (125)

From Wikipedia’s page on Bereavement in Judaism

Visiting the gravesite

The grave of rabbi-singer Shlomo Carlebach in Jerusalem is piled with stones left by visitors.

Some have a custom to visit the cemetery on fast days (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 559:10) and before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (581:4, 605), when possible, and for a Yahrzeit. During the first year the grave may be visited on the shloshim, and the yartzeit. Even when visiting Jewish graves of someone that the visitor never knew, the custom is to place a small stone on the grave using the left hand. This shows that someone visited the gravesite, and is also a way of participating in the mitzvah of burial. Leaving flowers is not a traditional Jewish practice. Another reason for leaving stones is to tend the grave. In Biblical times, gravestones were not used; graves were marked with mounds of stones (a kind of cairn), so by placing (or replacing) them, one perpetuated the existence of the site.

No, we’re not Jewish but I have been asked that a lot since I started giving everyone rocks to keep with them until they return to Tess’s grave. Our rock thing came from an entirely different place. Tess was into rocks; the girl spent forty bucks on a funky, crystallized, crusty one not too long before she left us. I, too, am into rocks. Tess and I were mentored in our rock love by our friend, Jan, who knows a hell of a lot about rocks. I don’t know much, but I know that we found something hopeful and strong in them. Tess and I had dinner with Jan on the Tuesday before she died and a rock discussion ensued when I pulled one out of my little rock bag (yes, I carry a small bag of rocks with me) to ask Jan about this little green one. Tess loved it, wanted it, tried her best to get it but I held on.

After the accident, Jan brought us rocks, big strong ones with properties that would maybe help us. We were all grateful to have them to hold, even the skeptics, not believing all this rock hooey, held on to them. So when they were going to take Tess’s body for cremation I tucked the little green rock into the crook her unmovable thumb and hand. Something to help her on her way? That was too much for me to think about then, I just wanted to give her what I could.

Now jump ahead, a month or two or three, who knows, time is a very tricky thing for me now. We have set up the TSR Fund and made a FB page and I am busying myself keeping all things Tess Senay going, so I don’t have to deal with the reality of what has happened. I come across the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse Facebook page and what are they selling on this day but ROCKS! Not just any old rocks but odds and ends from the home of a man who made jewelry. So I drove down the next day and got some rocks. They were beautiful rocks and PCCR is an awesome place filled with a ton of funky stuff for artists to change from junk to art.

I had been working on getting things arranged for Tess’s burial at the time I found PCCR and it hit me when I saw those rocks that I wanted to use them for her burial. I emailed PCCR to ask if they could let me know if they got anymore of these beautiful rocks. Erika Johnson, the director of PCCR, emailed back with a promise to set aside some rocks for me. She had gone to our website and said to stop in her office when I came back for more rocks. Turns out Erika and her family are kind of rock people too. When I stopped in, Erika sat with me talking rocks, Día de Muertos, art and Tess. I was awkward, still am when I talk about Tess, always fearing I will suddenly find myself facing the force of her absence, but Erika was kind and too generous with her time. Before we went to look at the rocks the PCCR had, she pull out a small basket of rocks from her own collection for me to take home, including one from Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty in Utah. More rocks would follow and hopefully a continued friendship.

I give rocks out with the request that people keep them close and whenever they look at them to remember Tess. Find a rock you like, seriously not all rocks are as fabulous as others, so take your time and look around, see what you see.

Someday if you come to her grave in Sewickley Cemetery leave a rock, say a prayer. “graves were marked with mounds of stones (a kind of cairn), so by placing (or replacing) them, one perpetuated the existence of the site,” and our love for Tess.

21 Merci, scholarships, eco art camp, and a place to rest.

Posted by TSRartandearthfund@comcast.net on June 22, 2013 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (711)


Everyday is hard without Tess. Nothing changes that, but if we can be comforted by anything, this last month’s activities made a strong effort. For me it started in Ireland, where I spent Tess’s birthday with her grandma, who shares her birthday, and several family members. It was a beautiful distraction. My sister Anne and I were able to spend a few quiet days in the western Ireland which comforted me with it’s turbulent weather, cinematic shores and acres of rocks.

The end of May and first half of June was filled with Tess inspired activity, maybe too much, but it was all as good as it could be. Our event marking Tess's 21st birthday and thanking our friends and family for everything was a huge success. We were so happy to see all of the wonderful people that have supported us and loved Tess. We were especially moved to see Tess's friends again. The art auction was awesome and we are very grateful to the artists that contributed their work. Please check out the pictures on our photo page!

It was such a great effort on the part our friends to get the whole thing together. All of the food was donated and made by our friends and family; Lisa Diemert, Kathy Mallison, Jean O'Donnell, Susie Abercrombie, Linda Kelley, Mary Ann Raynovich and Ralph and Maura at Armstrongs! Nancy Lintelman donated cookies that had one of Tess's watercolor images printed on dozens of cookies! They were the most beautiful cookies ever and they tasted really good too. My co-conspirators and the backbone of the TSR Art and Earth Fund, Diana Schwab and Marc Kennedy brought back up in the form of Christopher, Kat and Elizabeth to do all the heavy lifting. Craig Heryford, the Dude/Pied Piper brought in Jessica Lee and friends (which included Craig on drums) to add the perfect music for the night. It was really incredible for Tess's family see all this love for Tess.

On June 7th Tess's parents were joined by the Kennedy/Schwab family and Rachael Diemert, who presented the Tess Senay Raynovich Art and Poetry Scholarships at the Quaker Valley High School Scholarship Night event. The winners were Lauren Stinson and Rachael Houser. You can read more about it on our news page.

On June 17th the first Tess Senay Raynovich Eco Art Camp began! This is a camp sponsored by the TSR Art and Earth Fund in partnership with the Sewickley Valley YMCA. The kids were able to work three different artists during the camp and work with materials and ideas that were completely new to them. Our first effort of matching established artists with aspiring artists went very well. We have posted an album of photos from the camp so check them out.

Lastly, I will tell you that on May 27th at 9:00 am we made our way from our house up to the Sewickley Cemetery. Some of us drove, some walked with Otis. I wore Tess's Timberland leopard print lace up knee high boots and carried her ashes wrapped in the baby quilt, her Aunt Mary had made for her and that we had brought her home from the hospital in when she was born. Her cousins, Dan and Maureen, played a beautiful Woody Guthrie song, Joey read a poem by Irish poet John Donahue, Bennecht (Blessing) and Tess's Uncle Mike spoke and also read the Serenity prayer. It was tough to watch as her family and friends put scoop after scoop of dirt down but it also felt like the right thing to do. Everyone took a rock from our pile of special rocks (a story for another blog post) and we asked that they keep it close to them and think good thoughts for Tess and all of us when they look at or touch it. So we left, we left with rocks in our hands and Tess's spirit in our souls. Please, let us keep her close.


Winner of TSR Poetry Scholarship

Posted by TSRartandearthfund@comcast.net on May 9, 2013 at 10:10 PM Comments comments (175)

We want to thank all the students who submitted their poems for consideration, our supporters who make the scholarship possible, and Jan Beatty who volunteered her time and talent to judge the submissions for Tess's Poetry Scholarship.

"Prodigal Thought" is a wonderful poem about the "circus" of the mind. In a clear, strong voice, this writer scripts the life of ideas in fresh, surprising ways. – Jan Beatty - author of The Switching/Yard,  published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013. Other books include Red Sugar; Boneshaker, and Mad River - all published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

The winner, Rachael Houser, is a senior at Quaker Valley High School. Her poem will be featured in Bittersweet Literary Magazine published by Quaker Valley High School. Rachael has also been nominated for the Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater in the category of Best Actress. Congratulations Rachael!

Prodigal Thought

In the wild circus where ideas breathe and perform
Alternatively dazzling and frightening,
There is a place I hide you:
Sometimes against your will,
Sometimes to my own dismay.
You’ve made a home in my dreams.
Some days I run to visit.
Some days I leave you alone, letting my eyes linger on
The place you—sometimes—insist is a cage.
Some days, I kick you out.
And you come and go, unbidden—
A prodigal thought that runs free,
Chasing a wild life outside my head
Before returning—tentative—to the nest where I’ve always held you.
And some days I lock myself out.
Though I keep the keys closeby,
I need to run from the circus—
Even from you, my dear.
But I return, the prodigal son,
The ringmaster and dream-maker,
And the only one who has ever been able
To keep you.

Peace and Rocks

Posted by TSRartandearthfund@comcast.net on March 5, 2013 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (224)

Just got this note today from Tess's Uncle Toe, "Here’s a story for you: a former coworker of mine recently returned from several months of world travel. We got coffee a couple days ago and he told me how he was trekking in Nepal to one of the Everest base camps, when he checked email at an internet café in a tiny village, and learned about Tess’s death from mutual friends of ours. He told me how, high up in the Himalayas, there is a plateau where it’s become a tradition to stop and build a little rock cairn in memory of someone. So he built one for Tess, and there it sits among a thousand others. Isn’t that something to think of that little memorial of her presence, on the other side of the world?"

I closed my eyes and thought about this. Peace, almostThen I began to think about the rocks that Tess had gathered on our last walk together with Otis. She had told me that she wanted to look for "good" rocks and brought a burlap sack with her to carry them home in. These were not small rocks that she chose from the stream bed, and of course her explanation as we took turns carrying the extremely heavy sack of rocks back to the house was "I have an idea." Within a few days she was on the back porch painting the rocks white. When asked what she was planning for them, she just said, "You'll see."  And then they just sat by the back door, an unanswerable question. A month gone and I couldn't look at them, another unfinished part of her, so I put them in the yard where I had spread the pedals from the flowers that were sent.  And I didn't look again until I got this note from Toe. They were still white, but dingy, where I had dropped each of them a few feet apart on the pedals. They were stark on the soggy brown of everything underneath them. So I placed one leaning on the next, another on top of that and then again. I stood there looking, still wondering what it could have been, but then the image of this friend in the Himalayans stacking rocks for Tess took over and for a moment I let go.  

memory and the ephemeral moments that you wish to contain inside of a mason jar for eternity

Posted by Natalie Marrero on February 25, 2013 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (77)

From Chelsea Domaleski

The philosophy Tess had for her life, or what I believe itto be is of truth, love and beauty. On my first day entering the 'new world' that is college, boys, more boys, pretending to do my homework, roaming around NYC and fun and all the things we won't tell our parents about started with was a truthful, loving and beautiful woman--Tess Senay. I really am having a hardtime writing about her, she was the vision of what I study in my dance studies as the delicacy of art as we know it and what my colleagues and I make and salvate over. It is fleeting at one moment you can devour it, breathe it, fill yourself with it, whatever it is. In front of your eyes something happens then within a blink it is over.  At a completely new moment it doesn't exist anymore, it becomes lost within the daze of life, or the daze of New York City,or whatever daze you find yourself in. With the blink of an eye Tess entered my life walking into our closet size dorm room together and with that same blink she left for Alaska with a even quicker blink she came back to visit, to 'catchup' even though those moments seemed like a millisecond of the blink, being together was like we never separated, mostly sitting in silence allowing our cognitive function to feel each other in the space we shared. She always listened to me;she never talked much at times. She would always say nothing special was happening, I am just living. That she was. I admire her strength to stand up against the conservative evils that rule the world we live in. I admire her ability to see the beauty in every individual that walks this earth. I admire her for never forgetting to follow the path of HER OWN destiny even though at times the road may have been gray. Even as I am writing this, I am hoping  this will bring her back to me to share one last conversation, to have one more hug, to make her  dinner in our crowded apartment, to wake up and skip class and watch movies, to hear her laugh at all the obnoxious things to come out of my mouth or most important to tell her that I love her and appreciate her for everything she has given to this world so selflessly and what she has done for me without even realizing the affect of her undying love. I know too well this will not happen so every morning I put on the necklace she gave me the day she moved out of our apartment, in a blink she was gone. It reads,Truth/Love/Beauty. Everyday I step out into the city streets and approach or at least try to approach every circumstance with that philosophy. Because like theBuddhist we inhale all the negativity inside of this world, almost imagining asif it is black smoke and we exhale pure love and kindness to the world for those we may never come into contact with.  So thank you Tess Senay for showing me the ONLY WAY TO LIVE.



Day at the MOMA

Posted by TSRartandearthfund@comcast.net on February 22, 2013 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (712)

From Chelsea Domaleski

One of the best days I spent with Tess was when she came to visit me last fall. I was living in New Jersey at the time so I took the train into the city to see her and our friend Brian (who's house she was staying at). This was the first time I had seen her since she got back from Alaska, we had just been texting when she was gone, I was excited to here about her trip and see her tattoo. Of course we had to have our spaz out reunion with our fake accents that pissed everyone off but as soon as we saw each other it was like no time had gone by. We didn't see each other all the time, but when we did Tess was the kind of friend who you could immediately pick back up with, it didn't matter if you had been separated by months and most of the US. First thing we did was hang out in Union Square, it was a beautiful day, and Tess was taking pictures of the kids skate boarding and me and Brian. We decided to go to the MOMA to see the Willem de Kooning exhibit, a painter. We got to the exhibit and Tess was like a kid in a candy store. Me and Brian made a quick lap, our attention spans waning, but Tess examined each piece with a critical painter's eye. Her face when she was looking at those paintings was one of pure joy and awe. She spoke about each piece with the eye of only someone who could truly relate to the emotions and thoughts the artist had when creating his pieces. I've never seen someone so passionate about art and painting. After that, we walked around and talked and talked and talked, and eventually convinced her to come back to the city for my birthday in a few weeks. It was a great day and great memories. Love you Tessela <3 :-) Chels 


Girl with the Block Print Love Tattoo

Posted by TSRartandearthfund@comcast.net on February 4, 2013 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (3775)

Tess had told me about the tattoo she was planning to get. At the time she was in Juneau, Alaska and her oral description of what she wanted sounded more thought out than most, but I was against it. "Just think about it more," I said. Inside I wanted to call her Uncle Toe who she was staying with, and tell him to go to the tattoo parlor and tell them if they tattooed that girl there would be hell to pay. Juneau is a very small town surrounded by mountains and water so this could have delayed things anyway. At least she couldn't get to another tattoo parlor very easily. The only thing was that Tess was an adult, and had lived her life in a way the demanded respect from even her tattoo hating mother. So I listened to her plan. Her tattoo was designed after a block print children's book called St. Francis Preaches to the Birds originally published by Janus Press. She had kept that book with her everywhere she went. This warmed my heart but still I said, "just wait."  

When Tess arrived home and rolled out of the car that she had come across the country in with her friend Jim, it was a hot late summer night. I was so happy to see her, we had never been separated for so long before. We hugged, talked to Jim for a moment and carried her bags all the way into the house before I saw it. It was HUGE. The colors were bold. I just stared.

"Do you like it?" she said while laughing. "Let me explain it. See the black border is just like the book prints and the sun is for nature, which I love, and that's my body," pointing at the naked female body nestled under the sun, "and these are clouds for all my dreams. They didn't do the clouds very well, they look like mountains, oh well. Then the color blocks on the bottom are for all my emotions. What do you think these are?"

I looked at the three yellow flowers that sat in row just above the border of the rest of the tattoo. "What?" 

"They're for the sisters, Anna, Mia and me," smiling down at her arm, "now no matter where I am I can look at this and remember what's important."

Love Tattoo.