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Saturday, November 28


This was not a barn-burner, but it will buy groceries for the month and then some. Not complaining. Organizers are top notch. I saw lots of friends. Not enough for the new laptop yet, but much closer now. Next week for sure. Saving to buy things instead of charging everything and paying twice for it later is at times a little frustrating, but it is mostly a wonderful thing. Save the charge cards for the emergencies. Own your toys free and clear. How freeing that is.

And I got my hot dog! (Thanks, Deb) It's been a year since I had a hot dog. Those things taste amazing to a lapsed vegetarian. Back on course tomorrow, though.

Next weekend is Open Studios which should be a good one for us, some books and cards for a shop and then a break. I may actually visit the basement. I hear there are machines there that actually wash and dry your clothes. I vaguely remember....

I'm glad I did this show. I'll probably do it again. Why not? It all adds in, makes a bottom line, pays for the tomatoes. And I get to have a Sunday off on a show weekend. That may be the biggest reason of all to keep it on the list.

day 2-get your hot dog early

That was my biggest lesson yesterday. They run out of food early. I also learned that people will spend 7 bucks on popcorn or chocolate that will be gone in moments, but 15 bucks for a handbound journal is too expensive.

My friend, Deb, convinced me to bring in mirrors today and, since the louvre upon which they will be hung can double as a screen to hide my neighbors boxes, seems like a no-brainer. Of course, I cannot imagine this crowd will bite on a 50 buck mirror when there are 5 dollar cute Christmas things around, but you never know.

I was going to get up earlier, but we all snuggled in this morning, hitting the snooze button, watching "Singing in the Rain". I've been watching this movie most of my adult life and every single time Gene Kelly finally drops the umbrella and spins joyfully through the puddles, I smile. Can't help it. And besides, how can you not chuckle at a song that proclaims, solemnly, "you opened heaven's portal here on earth for this poor mortal"? Gotta love how Debbie Reynolds smiles adoringly at him while he spins that bit of sugar. Total escape from real life, that film. Thanks, Gene, Thanks, Debbie. Thanks, Donald.

OK, I have mirrors to shine, a shower to take, a louvre to pick up, a show to do.

As Gene proclaimed a few moments ago: "Gotta dance!!"

Friday, November 27

the good, the bad, the ugly

There is a reason I don't do school "craft shows". It's the jewelry made from craft store beads and the pot holders (although I did buy some) and the dog scrunchies and the containers stuffed with twinkle lights and the plastic snowflake ornaments. Nothing over 3 bucks or so. You cannot compete with that. People are not there for my sort of thing. They are there for Christmas wreaths and dog scrunchies. I understand that. But I caved and signed on. We'll see how tomorrow goes.

The folks that run the thing are great. Professional, courteous, and really dressed nice. You could do worse. :)

So, I'm sitting there, peering between the slats of my shelves ...poor design philosophy today...wondering why I was there and a sweet woman comes by and is really studying my new little collage magnets. She was there so long I sort of forgot about her and since I was squinting between shelves anything was possible. But she came around the side with a couple in her hand and asked if she could buy them. (No, I'm here on an anthropological stake out. Put those back! You'll blow my cover!") I said, of course, with a smile and then she asked if I was the one who made them. Why yes, I told her, sliding them into a bag. And then she said the nicest thing I ever heard.

With a sweet, honest smile, she said it must be wonderful to know me.

I think I babbled something moronic in response, but I recovered and we got into a lovely conversation prompted by the quotes on my magnets. We talked about treasuring normal days, looking deeper than the obvious. She told me of taking a walk after Thanksgiving dinner to feel the world around her and reconnect and she spotted a forsythia in bloom. She smiled, lifted her eyes to whomever she personally believes put this sign of promise in her path and nodded a thank you.

It was a wonderful conversation. It filled my heart, a heart that has been bruised by much sad news lately. It was as if she had actually presented me with a twig bearing small, fragile yellow blossoms. It took self control not to hug her.

It was a day of highs and lows.

The folks next to me filled the back space with their boxes, making me grumpy as I squeezed further into a corner. Then they gave me chocolate popcorn as an apology. On the proper hormonic cycle, chocolate and salty together is soul food.

When I first got to the venue I learned a last minute switch had been made and my spot in the bright, airy foyer had been switched with one deep in the corner of the gymacafetorium or whatever it is. This dizzied my claustrophobic soul until I saw i was directly across from a friend I see too infrequently. Hugs, reassurances, comfort.

Russell schlepped in my art show chair so I could sit high and next to the display instead of low and behind it and I started to breathe normally again. Cave dwelling is not for me. Plus, I could interact with the shoppers.

Tomorrow I am going to try very hard to resist the temptation of doggie winter scarves. Q would look so cute with one tied around his neck just before he pulled it off and ate it. I will not embarrass my dog. I will not.

So, the take was not phenomenal but still more than working a week at the theater. Part time. When there is no show. And I come in late and leave early. But still..

Tomorrow I will venture into the other building. Yes, there are two. One can only imagine what will be found there.

Tuesday, November 24

helpless heart

My son keeps me up to date on his struggle to adjust to the betrayal he has recently suffered. Today I am just confused, he will say or he will admit to having rushes of grief or anger or resentment. Some days the overwhelming prospect of packing up a life overcomes it all. Some nights he lies awake, imagining...

I listen to him vent, earphones in, while I paste and cut and arrange and glue. His pain moving through me to be woven into the patterns. I make pretty collages of paper, botanicals, paint and pain. And I can't make it better. The words no Mother ever wants to say. We are programmed to make it better.

Friday is the 1st day of a new show. I like old shows. I like knowing where to park and what kind of space to expect. Where the bathrooms are, if there are plugs for our lights. I like knowing the people who run it. New shows are filled with questions. Everything goes slower, feels awkward.

My work is going slow, too. My mind wanders, I am preoccupied by sadness and impotence.

It will be good to be done, to be on my way, to be of help.

I fill my boxes with product, counting out how many of each, is it enough, will they sell, will he get through this, how can I help.

The route to the venue is stored on the GPS. The load in instructions are in my folder. If only life was like that. Printed directions and a woman with a slightly British accent telling you "turn left, turn right. Recalculating".

I'm going to tell my son that one. He is recalculating. Maybe he will chuckle. That would be a good step, maybe make it a little better...

Friday, November 20

where's the porta-potty?

So, last night we did a little benefit show at a country club in Clarence. Clarence NY is either the richest or 2nd richest suburb of Buffalo. We drove our dented work van through the fancy gates and up a curving drive to the clubhouse, schlepped our battered boxes and totes across the marble floor to our assigned table (dressed and skirted in white) in front of a picture window that looked out over the sprawling grounds.

I wished I had dressed up more, although Russell did wear his good jeans.

There were appetizers passed on silver trays, even to us carnies. And a buffet that we were encouraged to enjoy and then a desert table of teeny, beautiful treats. Like one perfect raspberry atop a dollop of cream within a teeny tart. The next time a show promoter tells us that free coffee at setup is an "amenity" I'm gonna crack up.

Anyway, the show was pretty good considering it was just 3 hours long. We donated back 25% of the sales and I was happy that I could make a decent contribution to this group that raises money for pediatric hospice. Having experienced the mind-numbing, heart-stopping experience of a much loved nephew fighting cancer at the age of 6, this cause touched my heart.

So, another one down, now to get ready for the big school show that everyone swears is not your usual gym bazaar. OK, then. I'll give it all I got.

Oh, and my nephew? Lets see, I think on his last birthday he was 22. Sometimes you get a happy ending. :)

Monday, November 16

mothering, daughtering

The first Christmas show of the year is over and it was pretty OK, actually. Looks like I will be able to replace my laptop soon. :) I love Women's Gifts for it's large, spending crowds, but also for the women. Sisterhood, people, I tell you, cannot be overestimated.

There is a small benefit show Thursday and then Kenan Christmas, the show that said maybe. Boy, how I hate to be missing that one. I am very fond of the Kenan shows and when I can start and end the season there I am the happiest. But this year it looks like I will be ending elsewhere. I emailed the woman in charge, how's that alternate list looking? No cancellations yet, she wrote back. I responded that I will be sad to miss the show, but wished them a successful weekend. And I really do. She wrote back that they would miss me, also, wished they had more room. (The fact that they've had room for me several years in a row now is the unspoken "huh?") But perhaps this will make me the first alternate they think of if someone cancels. I will be ready.

But first, Mom and I to the Doctor for some plain talk next week. I have no idea what to expect. Do you operate on the gall bladder of an 87 yr old woman with a funky heart valve? She is very tired of the pain. There are so many layers to this situation, most of which I am reluctant to peel back just yet.

And then my much loved son calls with sad and startling news from way West. He has been deserted in life and business by someone he trusted. His legs are folded beneath him, his head reeling with the implications. Good-bye, see ya, you are on your own, nothing you did I am just not happy here, you'll be fine, bye.

The cafe he is so proud of, already in survival mode to deal with the off season, now in jeopardy. The beautiful house on the water likely doomed without financial help. But worst of all, the pain of being hurt this way. As if he deserved punishment. He calls me to vent and writes me emails with tear inducing comments like he wished he could put his heart in a coma for 6 months and wake up when the worst was over. He talks about a friend coming into the cafe, saying nothing, just coming behind the counter and holding him in a long, tight hug. He can't finish the story without losing his composure.

I want to hunt her down and tear her hair out. There, that felt better.

Of course, I won't do that, really don't want to. I'm sure there is pain there, too. But he needs help to work through this and so I am going out there to hang with him for a while, help out, comfort, encourage, work through all the minutia. He says just knowing I'm coming makes him feel happier, he is looking forward to it. We will have Christmas together for the first time in many years.

We have a tight bond, my boy and I, forged over years of struggle as a single Mom and her kid toughing it out and crossing the finish line happier and healthier than when they started. A bond forged in honesty and acceptance and forgiveness and challenge. And love. So much love.

If a few weeks of companionship during a trying time will help him through it, will soothe some pain, ease a burden or two, I am there. Like I am there when Mom needs help understanding her medical stuff. Like Russell is here for me when I need comfort or help or encouragement. Like Mom was here for me when I almost flunked out of college and she took the prof to task before I could stop her. Like my son was there for me when he started bringing money home at the age of 10 with a paper route and never stopped working... as a dishwasher and a lifeguard and a stock boy and a store clerk.

The wheel spins and it is my turn again. It is, in many ways, a blessing to be loved enough to be needed.

Saturday, November 7

what gets in the way

I will admit to being a creative person, always have been. Not necessarily good at anything, but always trying. Trying to draw, to paint, to play the guitar, to play the piano, to write poetry, to write fiction, to write non-fiction, to sew my own clothes, to sew a duvet cover, curtains, french shades. I have tried to knit, to crochet, to make rugs with a hooky thing and loops of yarn. I tried crewel and needlepoint and counted cross stitch. I have made bracelets, earrings and necklaces. I have failed at calligraphy, sum-i and stenciling. I made Christmas trees and ornaments of calico that I stuffed with fiberfill. Not to mention the reindeer made of candy canes and pipe cleaners or the pine cones with straw flowers glued to each petal.

Basically, there is not an aisle at Joanns or MIchaels that has not felt my desperate need.

But, even with that weird sort of energy running through my veins, sometimes the well needs to be primed or something. I sputter and stall, just when I should be accelerating.

This time it has been too many hours at work, and too many hours with my Mom.

My Mom. Gonna be 87 soon, not the end these days, but the beginning of things ending. The list of what she doesn't do anymore gets longer every day. She has been well except for arthritis and a creeping dementia that makes her so hard to be with. Then her gall bladder got all wacky and we started an odyssey of Dr visits. Turns out she has a wonky heart valve that may or may not be a problem. But that's not what gets in my way.

What gets in my way is the awkward part in her hair at the back of her head, that reminds me she doesn't comb her hair much anymore. The gray pants she wears all the time, even though she has drawers full of elastic waist pants that we dutifully buy her every Christmas and birthday as requested. The odd, quilted coat she has worn for decades. The way she needs her cane and a pull from me to get out of my Beetle. The way she waits dutifully for the Doctor, her knees tight together, hands folded in her lap like a school girl.

I find my mind wandering when I try to focus on artful things. I see her and Dad dancing to the big band music they loved, Dad spinning her out and back, pulling her back to him with his hand around her waist before he spins her out again. People would stop to watch them. I see her bargaining at garage sales, wily and shrewd, winking at me as she sashays back to the car with a bargain. I see her rolling out dough to make pasta, the pin making a rhythmic slapping sound as she somehow makes the sheet of dough flip back around the pin. I'm laboring to give birth to my son, concentrating on the minutes and the effort when she pokes her head into the room and announces "I knew you'd be brave!" before she is whisked away. I see her as a young widow, weeping into the gray pinstripes of the suit she has had to choose for her husband. I see her and Dad and my Aunt and Uncle sitting around our dining room table, a pot of coffee and a plate of pastry in the center, Dad teasing his brother with a spoon hot from stirring coffee, laughter, old jokes, secrets told with the key phrases in Italian. I would watch them and long to be an adult.

And now I am an adult and my Mother has become the child in many ways. Such a cliche, but there is truth there. My brother and I, mostly my brother, watching over her, making choices for her, protecting.

I go upstairs and start to cut and paste and in the quiet of my little studio I hear Tommy Dorsey and the sound of secret laughter and it gets in the way.

Tuesday, November 3


I have so much to do and I am stuck. I have been working at the theater a lot and now I have some issues with my Mom perhaps needing more than a gall bladder operation. So, add Dr appointments to the list of things that keep me out of the studio. Still, no excuse.

I will be so unhappy when the shows start in 10 days and I'm not ready.

OK, tomorrow..well, today, actually since I've been up and wishing for sleep for hours.

I will visualize aisles of happy shoppers, boxes full of inventory, the new laptop I need...


I know once I start, it will flow. It's just getting up there. Aaargh!