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Sunday, January 23

part two: found

At the end of part one, I was off to keep a date with a young man named Oliver. Let me tell you about him.

I was at work one day, waiting for a line of ticket buyers that never showed because they all bought on line that morning. We were all surfing the web to stay awake. I had been contemplating adding another dog to the fur contingent of our family. Quincy is a great dog, but he is powerful and active and capable of dragging me down the street if a squirrel should cross his path. He is also Russell's dog pretty much. He literally stares at him with love sick eyes, I swear. And lays across his lap whenever the need arises. Which is always. When Billy and Leisha had us babysit their dogs a while back, Q was happy and entertained and it seemed to calm him.

So, I was surfing rescue sites. At a great place called Joyful Rescues I found several pups that fit our needs. I filled out the application and waited to see if we were approved. My neighbor called the next day to say they had called her for a reference. I was happy that they really did check on potential adopters.

So, the next day, off we went, in a snow storm, to Cuba NY. Waaay too far to go on a snowy day, but off we went anyway, into the beautiful hills of the Southern Tier. GPS and the site's own directions got us there. Up this hill and down that one. Until we saw the sign and, taking a deep breath, asking each other if we were sure, we followed the cacophony of barks and howls to the main building.

We were met by Joye, the amazing woman who now devotes her life and home and land to the cause of saving abused and abandoned animals. The building is set up so that the pups can enter and exit at will, running free in their enclosed, huge yard. There is a dog house for new kids to get acclimated and a cat house which we did not visit because we already have two of those. The dog I had initially been drawn to was pending adoption and the other was off running in the huge yard. Joye said he seldom came inside, I knew he would not be happy in the city. But we have some new dogs, she said and off we went to the dog house.

There we saw 3 dogs that grabbed our hearts. A white, wiry haired terrier mix with a joyful attitude, a dachshund/terrier mix that was adorable and affectionate and a Yorkie that scooted out of his cage when the door was opened and went off to round up the other guys for a romp. All were perfect, but Russell picked up he Yorkie and he snuggled right into Russell's neck and went limp with love. Uh oh, I thought.

I love Yorkies. They are incredibly cute and funny. But I picture Legally Blonde with the little dog in designer duds. Or Paris Hilton toting one in a Gucci bag. This is not me, folks. I am a Golden Retriever kind of woman, looking for a dog just a bit smaller than that. A dog I can walk, that would nap on my lap. This dog weighed less than a can of Folgers. OK, I said, give him to me. And he snuggled into my neck and sighed. I tried looking at the other dogs, but "Casey Dean" had our hearts back in his cage at the dog house. We'll sleep on it, I told her. OK, Joye agreed, but I'll just hold him for one day.

We talked all the way home. Pros and Cons. Would Q take to a dog that was about the size of his favorite stuffed toy? He tears stuffed toys apart. Did I really want a 6 pound dog? Is that really a dog? He is so cute. And affectionate. Casey had been turned in by his owners because they said he was skittish around the kids. I think kids and toy dogs are a bad mix often. Joye agreed. The dog was fine in the dog house. She thought the problem was the kids. But you can't turn them in.

By the time we got home we had pretty much settled on a new name for the pup...Oliver. And I knew we would call Joye in the morning to say we wanted to adopt him.

Oliver was being neutered that day and, if all was well, we could pick him up close to home at one of their adoption events at a PetSmart. Done deal.

It was a joyful scene at PetSmart. Dogs everywhere-on leashes and in the arms of the volunteers. Go get your dog, one of them said, smiling, and we took him from the arms of a volunteer that was loathe to let him go.

They gave us lots of free stuff for him and coupons to help pay for the rest. We got him a collar and leash that matched his colors, a teeny bowl and we were off. As we were leaving, one of the volunteers raved about Ollie's new Burberry leash and collar. I had purchased designer duds for a dog. I was doomed;

On the way home, my neighbor Jolene called to tell us she had found a "hoodie" for Oliver and I laughed and laughed. Oh Lordy.

First stop at home was, of course, across the street to see Jolene and introduce Oliver to the rest of the pack. And to try on his Winter gear.

OD on cuteness. What had I become?

And so, Oliver found a new home and we found a new dog and he is adjusting just fine.

Quincy thinks we're nuts and he's not quite sure Oliver is a dog.

It will all work out. Lotsa love in the air.

Saturday, January 22

part one: lost

This was to be a busy day. First, early in the morning, bring samples of my widgets to be perused by the folks from the Junior League. They have a bi-annual event during which they have designers redecorate a city mansion and then charge folks like 10 or 15 bucks to walk through the rooms and be inspired. Or, in my case, depressed. Who lives like that?

But I digress.

During this event, they have a "boutique" featuring work of local artisans for sale. Well, the artisans are not for sale. Syntax alert. Their work is for sale. My friends who participate in this, rave about the sales and the promptness of payment, etc. I have been invited to participate often and never get to it. I was determined to follow through this time.

All you need are samples and I had some of everything except large journals. So, I bought some pretty new papers and worked up two journals...tasteful, not overly artsy fartsy...packed them up with easels and pretty table cover and actually got on the road at the time I had determined to be perfect. I was so proud. We never leave on time. Never.

We got to the show house with time to spare but nobody was there! We drove around a bit and pulled into the parking area and it was a quiet as an ACLU meeting in Wasilla. Uh oh. Russell asked if I was sure this was the place. Of course not! Nobody is here! This is obviously not the place! I don't know the place! And I have 20 minutes to get there. Wherever it is. I was not being my most charming self at this point.

I pulled out my iPhone, found the original email, opened the attachment, made it big enough to read, scrolled, scrolled, there! I was supposed to be in Cheektowaga. What? in 15 minutes. It started to snow sideways. I despaired. Russell said he was going for it, what did we have to lose. And off we went. We had to be there no later than 9:30 and everyone had to be out of the building by 9:45. It was 9:15.

No pressure.

We pulled into the lot at 9:26. Russell is a driving god. He came to a stop, I jumped out with my box of widgets, pulled open the door and skidded to a stop in front of the Ladies at the Table. They were nice but there was a definite unspoken tsk tsk in the air. They checked me in. I had to wait to be escorted into the jury room, tick tock tick tock, and the next set of doors opened.

We were allotted about 3 feet of table space for all our stuff. The people to my left had spread out into about a foot of that, the folks on my left the same. Can't blame them. I was in the finals of The Great Race on the Kensington while they were artfully placing their treasures. One of the organizers explained to the trespassers on my left that they had to move over a bit. They grumbled but complied. I got my widgets artfully arranged and made arrangements with a much loved fellow carnie to retrieve them for me in the afternoon. (Because we had an important appointment at 11. More on that in the next installment)

An unexpected treat was meeting a fellow artist that I "knew" only through on line forums and a reference from a fellow artist. Stefani sews beautiful, intricate patterns on paper. Paper! A woman after my own heart for sure. She was sweet and funny and she brought me a pin she made. I never think to do lovely things like that.

Well, truth be told, I sometimes have a passing thought about doing something like that but I seldom do. I'm too scattered to be thoughtful perhaps?

Anyway...mission accomplished. The League will send me a letter telling me what, if any, of my widgets they deem worthy for their boutique. Until then, who knows?

But I had an appointment to keep with a young man named Oliver that I thought might make some big changes in my life. I had an hour to get there.

No sweat.

Saturday, January 15

motivational studies

It's that time of year. Before I can go any further with jury slides and stocking up, I need to clear a path into my studio. It's the usual disaster, the normal chaos conglomerate, the gates of hell for anyone with one organizing gene.

I've been waiting for something to spark me, get me up the stairs, rev my clean-up engines and it came in a gallon jug.


Sigh, the book maker's drug of choice. Soft, white, creamy PVA from the adhesive distributor. This is not like the stuff you get in a bottle of Elmer's. It is thick and luxurious, it makes you want to glue something. It makes you want to clean your room so you can put that pretty jug in a place of honor.

It's like when you get new drapes and it makes you Spring clean the room. I remember once, as a teenager, a new purse made me clean my bedroom. Silly, but who knows what makes the mind work?

Oh, the jug will get all smeared up and the glue will dry up some and by the time I've reached mid-point the charm will be gone. But by then I will have made tons of books and be moving on to another incomprehensible motivator.

I can only imagine what my planned April buying trip to Hollander's will prompt. If a gallon of glue gets me to clean a disaster area, a trunk full of new papers may get a new roof on the house.

Well, better get back to it. Can't crack open the gallon until I have the proper work space ready.

Gotta respect the muse, after all.

Saturday, January 8

same thing this year

I do this every year. Wait until the very very last minute to get an important app in the mail, sending Russell off to the Post Office minutes before it closes, yelling after him.."make sure they postmark it today!!!"

Why do I do this? Not only did I wait until the last day to apply, I decided that just to make the day pop the bulb on the stress-o-meter, I would make new books for the images, using a technique I not only haven't mastered, I hadn't even tried yet.

I may be punishing myself for dirty deeds in a past life or, more likely, letting my control freak rule the day.

When I had a "real" job, working for the *gasp* government, I would always sign in at 2 or 3 minutes after my start time. Every single day. For years. 2 minutes late, 3, 4 5 minutes late. Every day. This would make Russell nuts as he navigated city traffic to get me there on time while I cleaned out my wallet or finished that library book that was due yesterday. Then, while watching the Today show as Russell beeped the car horn for me to hurry, I heard a psychiatrist type say that people who were habitually late were control freaks.

Eureka. Yes, I could not change anything about my awful, stressful job, but I could make them wait for me. Aha. That one thing I had control over. Made perfect sense.

Now, this show I applied to this afternoon at 5:28 (the Post Office closes at 5:30) is one of my favorites, but a few years ago they started cashing the check for your booth fee before the jury even met. Usually, shows hold the checks until they know who is accepted. Not this place. They cash the check, hang onto your money for 2 months and eventually tell you if you actually bought something or if you will be getting a refund. It is outrageous, unprofessional and unfair to artists who traditionally don't have a lot of extra cash to throw at speculation before the season even starts. But nobody complains because they love the show and don't want to make enemies.

So, I guess my warped psyche tells me to apply at the last second, literally.

Anyway..that's done, but the pictures we took at 4:52 didn't come out great. I may have hurt myself this time, but maybe in a way I want to tell this place to take this app and shove it.

On the plus side, I did finally make a traditional "cased-in" book and I enjoyed it.

It has opened up a whole new area for me and now I can do the photo albums and address books that people always ask for.

So it was a good day after all. Once the app was mailed, we went to deliver a frame that was a special order and I felt that lovely relief that happens when all the things I've been postponing are done. You would think that might encourage me to be more timely in the future. Oh please.

Next app is due at the end of the month and I need to have slides made for it. Now THAT is gonna be a challenge. Slides take a few days. I feel the excitement building already.

Tuesday, January 4

patty and mom go to the doctor

Mom was due for a physical, I had an appointment for a follow-up. We both go to the same husband and wife team. I get Rob, she gets Jennifer. It seemed logical to schedule her on my day. Save a trip. Get all the ucky out of the way in one shot.

They called Mom first and I went with her, telling the nurse where I would be when they got to my turn. Mom likes me to be with her, even though, in the process, I've come to see more of Mom than my eventual therapist would like. A guy I'll call "Mike" came in to take her vitals. I don't know what Mike is in the hierarchy. Nurse? Tech? PA? I know that every time I've take Mom to the Doctor, "Mike" has taken her BP and stuff and made notes in a laptop and regaled us with stupid jokes and forced conviviality. He means well.

When Mom was complaining about waiting and asking for a pillow for her back and quizzing him on office protocol (i.e why am I waiting?) he and I exchanged amused glances and, at one point I pantomimed loading a gun, pulling back the catch and shooting myself in the temple which sent Mike into peals of laughter.

He left us to wait in the examining room. You know that room. The one with all the scary looking stuff, no TV, no magazines, nothing to amuse you while you wait. And wait.

After 5 minutes she started. Where were they. They forgot her. We've been waiting a half hour. sigh. sigh. louder sigh. I tried to amuse her. No way. After about 10 minutes that her brain computed as an hour, she stood and marched resolutely to the door, ignoring my "No! Sit!" Quincy listens when I say that. Mom doesn't. She pulled open the door and ran into Mike. He reassured her that she was next, that the PA she was seeing that day was taking care of someone who was sicker than they thought and she would be in as soon as possible.

I shot the imaginary gun onto my mouth that time and he cracked up again. Then he left, closing the door behind him.

We chatted a bit, Mom and I. She asked me what my middle name was and I told her "Elaine" and she frowned and said "where did I come up with that??" and then for some reason she asked if I had a scar from my surgery. I laughed and told her I had a doozie. She wanted to see it. Anything to amuse her, I unzipped my jeans and pulled
them away from my tummy to show her. She gasped, touched the scar gently and whispered "I had no idea". I zipped up and sat down. Show and tell over, I thought.

Suddenly, she brightened up, announced that she had a hysterectomy once (Yes, I remember, it was in 1972) and that she didn't "leave marks". Then, to my horror, she stood, unzipped her slacks and pulled her clothing down to her never regions. At this point her never regions were about 3 inches from my face. You think I'm kidding abut eventual therapy. Look, she crowed, no marks. Nobody can believe I had surgery. I mumbled something complimentary while trying to look past her at something more appetizing, like the clogged artery illustration on the far wall and pondering how many people had told her it didn't look like she had surgery. Who else had she shown? The mind reels.

OK, Mom, I said, the doctor should be in soon. zip your pants. And she attempted to do just that except it was clumsy to gather her undies and girdle and slacks all at once and pull them up and something had to go and it was her slacks.

She was holding her other things against her never regions while I bent to grab the slacks that had puddled at her feet and that's when Mike opened the door.

I'll give you a moment to ponder the scene.

What's going on in here? he laughed and he and I fell helpless into a fit of giggles.

Comparing scars, I told him while pretending to stab myself in the gut with a huge sword.

Your Doctor is ready he told me and he escorted me to my little room, leaving the door open. I heard him briefing the Dr: "BP good, not sick, looks good, great sense of humor"

Mom and I left, both of us with glowing reports from our respective medical professionals except she needs an appointment for her eye problems and I really need to find that therapist.

Saturday, January 1

return from Oz

That's what the holidays feel like. Like your life was picked up by a whirlwind and dropped into an alternate existence where everything is real but different and time slows down, shifts into a neutral gear. Every aspect of your life seems affected by a sort of seasonal vapor. Your work hours are different, strange decorations permeate everything from the front office to your bosses desk. Employees feel compelled to bring in cookies and chocolate popcorn.

And your house! Your house takes on a new identity, alternating between wrapping central to gingerbread cottage. I mean, my mantle never looks like this:

It is more likely to have stacks of unopened mail, a dog brush and a bowl of pennies on it. But for Christmas, we sweep away the normal detritus for a more celebratory clutter.

And then there is the tree. I love our little tree.

But it is a temporary visitor. In a few days it will be a pathetic little branch at the side of the road and the furniture will be pushed back into its usual place and a bucket of magazines I am truly going to read this year will take its spot.

And so life revs up again and that brief foray away from life as we know it ends. Bills appear in the mailbox. Paperwork needs organizing. Books of paint colors lie open on the dining room table waiting for us to make a decision. My first application for the 2011 show season is due a week from today and I have no pictures, no beautiful items with which to wow the jury. And I won't even think about the laundry.

Maybe the best thing about the Winter solstice, no matter what your personal spirituality calls you to celebrate, is this communal escape from real life. From problems and worries and responsibility. We gather together as friends, as family. For every nut job that honks at you in traffic you can't control, there are dozens of strangers who smile and wish you Happy Holidays. People that a few weeks ago would have brushed by with a "scuse me". It is somehow appropriate that the finale of the season is the beginning of a new year. We have ended the year with a trip away from the things that consume us and we return rested and ready to take it all on again. With new resolve and a sweet belief that this time it will all be better.

That is what I wish for all of us. The ability to continue to believe in ourselves. Follow our own yellow brick road. There may not be answers at the end of it, but oh! the journey.