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Monday, July 11

Chautauqua on my mind

It was the weekend I have been looking forward to for months. I love this show for the educated, affluent customers, yes, but the Institution itself is the kind of place that prompts you to take a deep breath when you enter the grounds and it holds you with a sense of well being the whole time you are there. Last year it was at this show when my illness started to really make itself known and I was aware of and grateful for the differences this year. We had a tough set up in a downpour but it didn't faze me except for the stress on my damaged knee. It was better by the next morning and I wandered about the grounds with a spring in my step the rest of the weekend - even did a quick run home for some materials so I could spend Sunday morning finishing up more work to bring. Have I mentioned lately how grateful I am?

But it wasn't any of that, really, that made this a beautiful weekend. Sales were blah compared to other years so I guess the economy has everyone spending more cautiously. Didn't bother me. I'll explain why I didn't join the chorus of disgruntled whining going on around me as we broke our booths down.

One of the first persons to enter my booth Saturday morning was a petite, elderly Chinese woman who studied every single thing with a serious expression on her face and then turned to me as she was leaving and with s sweet smile said "so much beauty here".

A bit later, enter Judy, a one woman self esteem creator. She bought a couple of things, and proceeded to throw so many compliments at me that I wondered if there was a hidden camera somewhere, But, no, she just really related to my stuff. She came back several times over the weekend, always bought things, always went on and on about how wonderful the things were. She brought a friend in one afternoon to show her just how wonderful I was and then, to top things off, came back on Sunday to take my picture so she could include it with one of my things she had purchased as a gift.

I may adopt Judy.

One of the employees of the Institution came in and was moved by one of the quotes I use and it started a conversation which led to us realizing we had both lost our Moms recently. We talked about that and about feeling their presence and signs and she said to me that she believed there were few coincidences in life and that many things happened for a reason, even conversations and she hugged me.

Another woman studied my collage pieces for a very long time and talked to me about how she loved them and wished she could do it and so we talked abut letting yourself try things without fear, respecting your own vision.. I offered some elementary advice on how to get started (I'm pretty new at it myself) and she said she was inspired..She bought a piece and gave me a hug.

There is a trend developing here.

So many people that come to this show have art in their lives and it makes for interesting conversations about book binding techniques and types of handmade paper and how to cut mats and which philosopher actually said that quote I used on a fly leaf. I had to hold one woman's cello while she dug out her credit card, another was carrying a partially completed papier mache ogre she was constructing for a diorama.

This is not your usual craft show, this was not my usual year, this was not your usual show crowd.

I may not have made a record amount of money this weekend, but I was made richer nonetheless.

Oh, and today, the day after a show, when I would normally be exhausted and sore and housebound, I went for a bike ride with Russell down to the Harbor, sat on the newly painted Adirondack chairs along the canal. let the warm breeze wash over me while I ate a strawberry ice cream cone and celebrated nothing but the joy of a normal day and the gift of connections made and cherished.

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