Yesterday I finished this watercolor painting in memory of my pet Uromastyx, Liz Lemon. Liz passed away on January 20, 2018. She was one cool reptile and an excellent roommate; I miss her dearly. My apartment is not the same without Big Liz in her desert habitat, lounging under a heat lamp and gazing through the window at other, less spectacular animals. Painting this portrait helped me get through the doldrums of the past week or so without her.
“Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.”
– Leo Tolstoy
Last Saturday, January 20, my beloved Uromastyx lizard passed away. Liz Lemon was one of my favorite subjects to photograph, and the original mascot of this blog. I named her after one of my favorite Tina Fey characters.
Just a few of the many things about Liz that I will dearly miss:
harvesting lettuces, carrots, and marigolds for her from the UMD Community Learning Garden
making videos of her scarfing down lettuce, while playing the Jurassic Park theme in the background
watching her chill on her reptile ramp, or hang her big belly between two hollowed-out log tunnels
the way she would eat matchstick carrots dipped in vitamin goo out of my hand
her happy lizard smize (smile with lips + eyes = smizing)
when she was too heavy for her original reptile hammock and accidentally pulled it down, and her subsequent refusal to trust the newer, more durable hammock
the way she would hang out at the end of her habitat closest to me when I would work from home
her hobby of chasing moths and Swiffer dusters which dared to venture too close
how she loved to bask by the window and watch the happenings in the yard
I was not her original owner, but I place her age at around 10 years (maybe more). I inherited Liz in 2010 from a fellow student at Salisbury University. Since that time, every time I got a new job or a raise I would build up Liz’s habitat. She was part of the reason that I became a gardener; Liz was a vegetarian and I enjoyed growing food for her. I called her my “big girl” because of that Uromastyx pot belly!
Fortunately, my sister Kelly was visiting for the weekend and provided Liz with a presidential motorcade in her black Lincoln sedan back to my parents’ house. There Liz received a proper burial in a beautiful red cookie tin that came from one of my favorite students at work. To me, this was preferable to burying Liz in the yard of my current apartment. I feared that her sensitive reptilian soul would be stuck hearing my upstairs landlord abuse people over the phone for the rest of eternity.
There isn’t much this week that can diminish my sadness over losing Liz. She was my buddy and a delightfully silent roommate for almost eight years. I had hoped that we would have several more years together and maybe I would buy a house for myself that she could live in rent-free.
Liz saw nearly all of my 20s and witnessed my various victories and setbacks. Her empty tank is a tear-inducing sight. But if I can someday provide another Uromastyx with a loving home, I will be happy to do it in her memory.