Sunday, December 2, 2012

One for Doug

Many years ago I lost a special friend. He came into my life at a very difficult time. My father had just died and my brother's friends spent a lot of time at the house over the next several days. I don't know if Doug and I became friends because he was the youngest of these guys, or if it was something else. I do know that over the next 10 years, we did all kinds of goofy stuff.

Doug was a pacifist and a bit of a hippie. But he also enjoyed watching Kung Fu movies. Go figure. I also remember going to many flea markets with him. All in all - one of my favorite people. We could go ages without seeing each other and he'd show up out of the blue. We'd talk about what he'd been up to and move on like he'd never been gone.

He was always seeking, looking for a peace that always eluded him. He studied Baha'i for a while and he also studied Buddhism.

In 1977, Doug moved to Boston. I don't know what happened to him there, (although I have a theory) but he took his own life.

All these years later, I finally met his brother. We talked about memories a bit and I learned that Doug was buried locally. I took a drive today, did some walking around, found his grave and placed a wreath. I have blurred his last name for the sake of the family.

It's a funny thing. I know Doug's not there. But I still spent about half an hour at his graveside, telling him I never forgot him and I never will.

I wonder what he might have accomplished if he had survived that momentary crisis in Boston and lived to see the sunrise the next day. Out of that original group of friends, I know of two PhDs and a successful tech business owner. Not bad company. I can also see Doug as an artist, maybe a teacher. Also good company.

Rest in peace, old friend. I'll talk to you soon.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

From the heart

I am blessed to be a member of a very special second family. Ellen and Sallianne - the ladies who run Art Is You art retreats - and the people who attend and teach at these retreats have become big parts of my life.

Nearly a year ago, just before Christmas, someone broke into Ellen's house. Luckily, nobody was home at the time, but many items were stolen. I was so upset by this news, I decided to do something very special for her. With Sallianne's help, I sent e-mails out to the East Coast attendees asking if anyone would be interested in contributing a block to a group quilt. The response I received was heart-warming.

Once I knew approximately how many players we had, I sent out the specifics (block size and my address) and in no time, blocks started rolling in. There were some artists who wanted to contribute, but they didn't sew. I asked them to email me a jpeg of a piece of their art. I printed these on special ink-jet-ready fabric and included them in the quilt that way.

As I have since told Ellen, I've had some serious depression issues over the last year and a half, especially since April when I moved to NY state. Every now and then, I'd go to my mailbox and find a package containing a quilt block. A gift of love. Several times, there was an extra goodie for me. These things just filled my heart.

On Sunday, October 7, I had the honor and pleasure of presenting the quilt to Ellen. It was during the Breakfast for the Brave at Art Is You. (Every day at Art Is You features a different mode of dress. Friday is pink day, Saturday was tutus and Sunday was PJs day. We wear our jammies all day. Since I was not able to do tutu day, I decided to wear my tiara with my jammies.)

My thanks to Lynne Suprock for the photos!


Monday, September 17, 2012

A birthday surprise

It is a beautiful Saturday morning in New England. Warm sun, a soft breeze, and just the tiniest hint of autumn in the air. At the appointed time, a family of four pulls into the parking lot. On the far side of the parking lot, a woman is standing on the grass playing a hammered dulcimer. The younger of the two daughters in the car gets very excited. "A hammered dulcimer!" she shouts. She herself is a musician and has wanted a hammered dulcimer for at least two years. She gets out of the car to watch and listen.

She and her sister, Mom and Dad come closer. The woman playing the hammered dulcimer finishes the tune she is playing and looks at the family just a few feet away. She approaches the younger girl, hands her the hammers and says "I believe these belong to you now". The girl looks very confused and a little scared. The woman puts her arm around her and gently guiding her up onto the grass says, "Let me show you your new hammered dulcimer". Standing in front of the instrument, the girl looks at her dad. "This is very confusing". The woman says "Happy Birthday" and calls her by name. The girl said "For real"? The woman smiles and nods.

Laughing, Mom and Dad step up onto the grass and introductions are made all around. The woman teaches the girl a little about how the instrument is set up, shows her all of the books and goodies she brought and passes on a few tips. "Your dad has my email address, so if you have any questions or just want to stay in touch, please feel free". Hugs all around, a financial transaction completed, one more photo and the woman heads home.

A dear friend advised me not to sell the dulcimer. He was afraid that I'd regret it down the road. You know who you are and I love you for your concern. But I've barely touched it for three years. This is an instrument that loves to sing. It has a beautiful voice and needs to be played. I have passed it on to someone who is going to love it and play it. When her dad emailed me with these photos, he said that they set it up when they got home and she's already working on 2 tunes. She's telling everybody about the whole experience. We did good!

I'm grateful that I was able to play such a pivotal role in making this a birthday she will always cherish and remember!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Parkinson's Shmarkinson's

I hope she doesn't mind me telling you this, but my mother has Parkinson's. It has affected her speech, her muscle tone and her ability to take care of herself. She recently stopped taking the meds that are supposed to be helping. Since then, her mind is clearer, her mobility has actually improved, and she is genuinely happier and more involved in life.

Her roommate Phyllis is a very persuasive woman and has gotten my mother to participate in many of the social activities. She goes to Bingo, shuffleboard (specially designed for folks in wheelchairs) and recently, she went to a painting class. She showed me this piece today and she gave it to me. I am so impressed that a woman with Parkinson's, who can't even write her name anymore was able to do this:

It's a sun catcher. I took a few photos with it against a window, but the outdoor scenery dulled the colors a bit. This was taken on a pink tablecloth in the dining room. She said next time she's going to do a butterfly for me. I can't wait to see it! This one will be hanging in my living room window.

She's doing great! Love you Mom!

Monday, May 28, 2012

481 to 90 to 91 to 15 and back

I've been making this drive from Fulton, NY to Hamden, CT almost every weekend for about 6 weeks. I could probably do it in my sleep, but my understanding is that is not the best way to drive. So I try to keep my eyes open.

I've noticed some odd things in my travels. I have seen Oreo cows. Black on either end and a third white in the middle. When I'm northbound in NY, there is a very cool/creepy house on the southbound side that looks like the Bates house behind the motel in Psycho. It's not near an exit and there is no safe place to pull over to take a picture, so you'll just have to take my word for it. I never see it when I'm southbound.

I've also noticed that in New York, towns seem to overlay each other. I work in Syracuse - or East Syracuse - or DeWitt - or Fayetteville. I live in Fulton - or Volney. I'm thinking it may be similar to Mount Carmel, Spring Glen and Whitneyville which are all sections of Hamden (CT). New Haven (CT) has Fair Haven and Westville. North Haven (CT) has Montowese. Wallingford (CT) has Yalesville. Meriden (CT) has Tracey. But, you generally don't see those sections or neighborhoods on maps, so I'm still a little confused. But as far as the Post Office is concerned, 13069 is Fulton, NY.

I still get a bit of a kick from Rt 481. I pick it up in Syracuse and it's an Interstate highway. About 10 miles up, as we cross I-81, it becomes a state highway. Looks exactly the same, just the sign changes, and 20 more miles, when we get to Fulton, there is a traffic light and 481 is magically transformed into a regular old road. Continues on to Oswego and Lake Ontario which are only a few miles away. This is 481 in Fulton:

That's it for today. I hope you enjoyed my little tour.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day

It's Memorial Day weekend.

Time set aside to thank and remember the members of our armed services who gave their lives for our country.

It is also a time to remember and to reflect on the events of our lives. This past year has been pretty sucky for me. Lots of loss. And as much as I know everyone means well, if I hear "one door closes, another door opens" one more time, I'm going to scream. I am hanging on the edge of a cliff. For now, I'm OK. I have a job and I have a place to live. Have to wait and see what happens come January.

For now, I am going to look at Memorial Day as the unofficial start to summer. There are many places in my new environs that I want to explore. The Erie Canal for one. Lake Ontario for another. I want to find flea markets, quilt shops, contra dances, check out some churches, maybe join the choir. I want to de-beige my apartment. I want to get my furniture moved up there.

But first, I need to settle things in Connecticut so I don't have to drive back here every weekend. This is the house I'm leaving behind. It looks a little scruffy in the photo. It is a 1926 bungalow and I'm really going to miss it. Been here 11 years.

The room across the front upstairs was my studio. Lots of light. Going to miss that too. The apartment I've rented is a bit short on windows. One per room, plus sliders out to the deck off the living room. I'm on the second floor.

But it is where I have landed for now. The people are nice, the stars are bright and plentiful. I believe I have been brought here for a reason. I just don't know what that reason is. I may never know. But I am going to view this as an opportunity and see what develops.

More to come...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A stone in my heart

This morning I woke up at 3 am and my mind and my heart were filled with hatred. Not how I wish to wake up. I tossed and turned, tried to find a place of peace within me. It could not be found. There is a stone in my heart that has been there for about a year and I pray that God will take it away.

I am not a person who hates. This emotion is completely foreign to me. I am a kind, loving, forgiving person. So I honestly don't understand why I am holding onto this for so long. This is not the first time I woke up this way. This happens fairly often. It saps my strength, makes me obsess over things that are long gone and unchangeable. I need to leave this pain and anger behind and move on.

If I have time before the movers come on Saturday, I'm going to write a letter to this person, explaining my hatred, anger, resentment and then burn it in the fireplace. The writing might help purge it from my heart. If not, once I am settled in my new home, my new life, I'll use it to create a piece of healing art. I can't go on like this. I don't like this part of me and I need to be rid of it.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Almost home

I spent more time behind the wheel of my car in the last two days than I have for months. I left early yesterday morning for a noon meeting with Lauren and his wife Michelle to look at an apartment. According to Google, it was a five and a half hour drive. Giving myself a little extra time to get lost, I left home at 5:30. I made good time, only missed one turn and got to the property a little after 11:00.

There are two houses on the property. I knew the apartment was on the second floor, so it had to be the house in back. There were a couple of people outside the house in front and within minutes, Gretchen (I now know 2 Gretchens!) came over and introduced herself. She and her SO Joe live in the front house and take care of the property for Lauren and Michelle. Another gentleman rents the apartment on the end of the front house. Diana rents the first floor of the house in back. Diana has 4 cats, Gretchen and Joe have a dog.

Gretchen gave me the grand tour of the property, lots of land, a fire pit for summer gatherings. She invited me into her home. Some nice, artsy touches in there. Even though she has keys, we decided to wait for Lauren and Michelle before looking at the apartment. But, from outside, this is the house where Gretchen and Joe live. The other apartment is on the left. Joe and Gretchen's door is all the way to the right.

This photo makes the property look desolate, but it's showing driveway and parking areas. Everything else is green! The house in back is divided into upstairs and downstairs apartments. Each has it's own entrance. You can barely make out the addition for the door to the second floor way over on the left. The downstairs door is around the corner. Love the wagon wheel! Gretchen likes how it looks but it has made a big rust mark on the siding. she doesn't like that part.

I was going to include a couple of interior photos from the ad, but Lauren has deleted the listing now that the place is rented. It's two bedrooms. One will be my bedroom, the other will be my studio. Since I don't even own a TV, a living room is something I really have no use for. So the traditional living room space will be my office. The sliders to the deck are in this room. There is a small dining area. Rather than bring my dining room set which is rather large, I am going to sell it. I have a small bistro set with 2 chairs and a glass-topped table. That's all the dining room I need. The bathroom has washer/dryer hook-ups so I'll be bringing my machines.

Lauren and Michelle are very nice folks. They live just up the road, but Gretchen and Joe are there to take care of anything I might need. They also take care of the grounds and the plowing. Gretchen has a couple of gardens and is very down-to-Earth. I really like her. When I went back up there this morning, she came out to visit for a bit and told me she was really happy that I was moving in. I asked if I could take her picture, but it is not very flattering.

It takes a little over half an hour to drive to work from here, longer come winter, but it is well worth it. Reasonable rent, friendly folks who have no objections to cats. Can't beat it. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Day at Home

My mom fell and broke her left hip back in December. She had a partial hip replacement, did the rehab thing and came home. She needed help with lots of things she hadn't needed help with before. After she was home for about two weeks, she somehow managed to fall again. "On the driver's side" as my brother Jack put it. On top of the walker.

Back to the hospital. Nothing broken, but there was muscle damage and lots of bruising. She needed rehab again. Without going into a lot of personal detail, she has been in the rehab hospital for about 2 months and we are now looking for a long-term placement for her. She needs round-the-clock care.

We had a special outing with her today. Jack brought her home for lunch. There were challenges, but she was able to sit in her comfy chair, spend some time with Ricochet (her kitty)

enjoy most of a cup of peppermint tea in her special "Mom" mug

and just not be a patient for a few hours. I sat with her at her computer, got on Facebook, showed her some of my brother David's artwork that he has posted, pictures of my cats and reminded her of a funny misunderstanding she and I had several years ago.

I had made this jester as part of a challenge on I won an Honorable Mention and was really tickled. I brought him in to the dance studio where my sweetie and I were taking lessons (ballroom) and one of the owners offered me $150. SOLD!!

I called my mom all excited that I had sold my jester. She sounded positively appalled! "You sold him?" I said "For $150? You bet I did!". She sounded really upset. After a couple of minutes she said "Tell me again". I said "I sold my jester for $150". She burst out laughing. She originally thought I said I sold my Jasper!

He is NOT for sale! We've laughed about that several times and it was fun showing her both photos again today.

She was home for almost 6 hours and while I know it was difficult to go back, she does understand that she needs more care than we can provide. I'm sure we'll have more days at home.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gross but important

Chippie (16-year-old male kitty) had a problem with projectile sneezing (truly disgusting!) a little bit ago and I foolishly believed what I had heard from other people and had read on the internet. It's a feline form of the herpes virus and there is no cure. Ryan had it and Chippie apparently got it from Ryan. In fact, I called it Ryan-itis. (I lost Ryan a few months ago from something totally unrelated). We tried L-Lysine (an amino acid) which is supposed to help feline herpes virus, but I really saw no change. Still really icky and messy. Poor Chipper. Poor house. I finally got smart and took him to the vet last month. Dr. Feldman said it seemed more like an upper respiratory infection than feline herpes. He put him on Clavamox for 10 days. Cleared him right up!!

He was great for a few weeks and then a few days ago, he started sneezing again. Brought him back to the vet today. Poor guy had an "accident" on the way there, so they also gave him a bath and washed out his carrier for me - no extra charge! They said he didn't complain once during the bath. He is the most easy-going critter I've ever had. Really easy to pill, too. I figure he was traumatized enough for one day; we'll start round 2 of the Clavamox tomorrow. Two full weeks this time. Hopefully, this'll do it. My poor guy.

The lesson here is don't be foolish like me. Take your critter to the vet. My Chippie suffered needlessly because I thought I knew what was wrong and how to treat it. I'm so glad I wised up.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Art to the Rescue

My friend Kecia (Lemoncholy's Flight of Fancy) has a friend who was recently diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. As an artist, Kecia decided to make a banner depicting life and health affirming images and words. She put the call out on FaceBook asking if any of her friends would like to contribute. She sent out specifications (measurements, color scheme, etc) and I made mine today:

The piece is 7 1/2 by 9 inches, not including the beaded fringe at the bottom. The top inch will be folded over and sewn onto the banner. The background fabric has a very slight gold sparkle. The image and the word "Strength" are printed on fabric and I added lace, buttons and beaded fringe.

I fell in love with the image of the hands when I saw it. She is not in this struggle alone. She has the love and support of friends and family who will add to her strength.

The buttons are pink flowers with petals and I sewed them on using pale green raffia. Adds just a tiny touch of color. A small spot of glue on the back just to make sure they stay put.

I hope my addition to Kecia's gift will help her friend find strength.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Time to get back to work

It's been far too long since I've posted anything here. Since then, I have become unemployed, adding to the big changes in my life. I am actively searching for a new job. Had an interview yesterday that I thought went really well. They are interviewing this week and will do background checks and reference checks next week. I should hear something after that. I hope, I hope...

I really haven't been doing a darn thing to fill in the hole. I am guilty of moping, sleeping way to late on a daily basis, and not doing anything art-wise. I had an idea for a small business, but the materials cost was too high to be able to be profitable. Thanks to my friend Ellen, one of those costs just became manageable. I may give it a go yet.

I just signed up for an online class with Pam Carriker. I'll post my finished piece when it's done.

Time to go clean something.