Friday, February 5, 2016

#10LittleThings


My nephew wrote a blog post about ten little things that helped him get through the month of February, affectionately nicknamed "Grey Bucket of Suck Month." There is only one redeeming quality of February, it's my birthday month. That's about it though. I hate Valentine's Day and all the "if you love her, prove it" bullshit. People are sick and tired of the cold. If there is snow still on the ground, it looks like dirty sludge. And did I mention people are just tired of the cold? It's a month to "just get it over with" as far as I'm concerned. Good thing it's usually a short month! 

But... in the spirit of trying to be positive and grateful that we made it so far, I will give this a try. Ten little things to get us through this bucket of suck month. Okay, fine. Ten little things to be grateful for during the F month. Or maybe just things about winter that might be okay...

1. The layer of ice in the pond finally cracking and beginning to melt. 


2. But not so much so that the geese can't pretend to be Jesus and walk on water. I call them my Geesuses. 
 

3. And the ice puddle in the playing field is thick enough to pretend skate on, with pretend skates. And pretend falls.

 

4. Sometimes there's still enough snow on the ground to get a few last rolls in, before it turns to mush. 

 

5. Looking out the window and seeing tiny animal prints on the back deck.


6. Hawk visiting on a clear day, hunting squirrels. But not the fat squirrel that lives in the tree outside our window. That's Ruby's squirrel. 


7. Shadows. Each day is another minute longer, finally dragging us out of the long dark. But the shadows are still long and clear, the sun still at a low winter angle. 


8. Parks and outdoor public places are blissfully lacking in people. You can walk down a path without getting hit by a bicycle. 


9. Wildlife returns to the area after a winter of hibernation. The Canadian Geese come back in droves. (Of course there are always the lazy few who stay in the area.) The squirrels emerge from their leafy nests high up in the trees. The robins start hanging around with other birds of unknown origin.


10. Snuggling under the down comforter with my two favorite girls on lazy Saturday mornings. Warm and snug, sun streaming through the windows. Bliss.


I think the main thing that keeps me going during the month of February is the anticipation. I love the feeling of knowing something pleasant is coming. When you can tilt your head to the sun and feel warmth, not pain. Looking forward to that magical day when suddenly you smell spring in the air. The smell of fresh mud made by the ground unfreezing. Making way for the very first crocuses to emerge bright green. Daffodils to follow. I get so excited to those first few signs of spring. I know it's coming... I know it's coming. We just gotta get through February first!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hello, it's me.

A message from the universe. 
I am not sure what to do. I have two blogs. And I've been neglecting them both. 

I first started this blog when I wanted to share my artwork and photography, but then how can I separate those things from who I am? I started sharing myself and random thoughts on life. I like that. I can write about anything I want. Specifically, LIFE. Haha. It's good to be adaptable. 

Do you get the Irony?

Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I didn't want to make THIS blog a "cancer blog" but I needed to process my experience with words and thoughts and pictures. And I wanted to share my experience because if I could help just one person get through their own ordeal, then Mission Accomplished. So I started Life, Interrupted which documented my cancer journey. I really love to go back and read things because it reminds me on my weaker days, how strong I am. I decided I am not going to take it down, because I still get a few readers there. But the last time I wrote was September 2nd, after my Oncology appointment that made me cry the Ugly Cry. I will probably continue to write on that one but keep it strictly BOOB related, which means every few months. 

Cracked and Broken but Beautiful. 

This year one of my intentions (I don't do resolutions) was to write more. Write anything. More. I have words in me floating around my head that need to come out. Usually it's while I'm driving down the tollway at 70 M.P.H. and by the time I get in front of the computer or have pen and journal in hand, most of those words have turned to jibber jabber, all the eloquence and cleverness having disappeared. 

I would love to write a book someday. But I don't know what the hell to write a book about. So I figured maybe a blog would be better because my ADD addled mind could write about anything that pops up for the day/week/month. 

Well, I won't get any writing done if I don't at least try, right? But I am warning you. I could write and show pictures about art and photography, feelings, thoughts on current events, fiction, divorce, food and healthy eating (yeah, I love taking pictures of my food. Sue me), stupid things that people say, being a 50 year old single woman who hasn't dated since 1985, etc. It could get ugly. Very. 

But that's me. 

Hello. It's me. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Wet Kisses and Warm Fur

I would like to introduce you to the new Love of my Life!



This is Ruby. We rescued each other. My last blog post I talked about possibly getting another dog to help ease the loneliness of the day. I had started looking half-heartedly, going to dog adoption events, of course I liked all the dogs I saw but I couldn't "see" any of them in my house or in my life. Until a rescue I followed on Facebook posted this picture of this beautiful Australian Shepherd:



I don't know what it was about her... but within about 5 minutes of  hearing her "story" I fell in love. After 9 months with a family, they were giving her up because they were moving and only wanted to take the puppy with them. For nine months, they fed her to obesity. Her records show she was of "normal stature and weight" in December 2014 and by September she was 20 lbs. overweight, and on what should be a 50 lb dog, that's pretty significant. The previous owner also said Ruby did not like to go for walks. Her Foster Mother took a picture of why that was:



Well, I wouldn't want to walk on those either, it was probably extremely painful to walk! I just knew that this pup needed to be with me. I kept up with updates on Facebook and kept falling, fast and hard. I think a week later, her Foster Mom found out that Ruby was also Heartworm Positive. I was heartbroken, for Ruby, but it in NO WAY affected my decision to give her a home. I checked around here and found a vet who could treat her very affordably, and we all decided that Ruby would come up to my neck of the woods for treatment. I picked her up on October 17th when I met J, the foster mom, halfway between Chicago and St. Louis.

I had NO doubts that I had made the right decision. This was the sweetest dog I'd ever met. I couldn't figure out why anyone would give her up. She is gentle and loving and attentive. She is a velcro dog and wants to be in the same room as me. She loves to go for walks. And given her issue with weight and overfeeding, she proved to be so well behaved around food. She eats fast, but after I set her bowl down, she puts her nose by my face and looks me in the eye as if to say "thank you." I tell her "you're welcome" and then she eats. I can put food on the nose-high living room table and she's never tried to eat it. I can drop things and she looks at me to see if she can get it. She is so NOT a mooch dog.



She is fully house trained and has never pooped or peed inside. Even when it poured one weekend, she held it for about 14 hours. She doesn't chew on shoes or furniture, or anything. Even bones :-)
She gives little kisses on my chin. She comes to work with me (right down to the basement) and I'll be working and she'll be snoozing, and she'll come up to be and put her paws on me and give me a kiss, like she's checking in. She is not a puppy anymore, we think she is about 5 years old, give or take a year.

We had a few fun months of fun before we had to start the hard Heartworm Treatment. This girl loves her walks and wants to run so badly. We took her to my parent's house in the country a few times and she had the chance to run a bit. And squirrels. Well, she is a Squirrel Hunter for sure. It's the only time she is still enough to get a nice clear photo of her. Like the above picture she is staring down a squirrel.

Yes, she has several nicknames! I don't compare her to Maddy, even though I've called her Maddy several times and they look very similar. Ruby doesn't have a tail though. She just wiggles her butt maniacally when she sees me. Her whole body shakes. She LOVES going for car rides, even if it means the vet. But mostly it's to the park. Look at the smile on her!



The best thing? She laughs at all my jokes.



She is at the vet right now, getting her third injection for Heartworm. The night will be very difficult. She had her second injection yesterday and was hurting all night. But that's it then. I have to keep her quiet and inactive for about a month, until the last of the worms die off, then she will be allowed to run like the wind and be a dog again. We might try going to the dog parks around here. She's okay with most dogs, for some reason, the only dog she barks at around here is a black Lab. She's not sure what to make with small dogs that yap in her face either, so she just gives them a warning growl and goes on her way. She loves kitties. She is also very protective of me. She will get between me and any other dog at first. She's sweet and gentle, but she can hold her own. While she doesn't automatically submit to other dogs, she is not aggressive either.



 
This summer I want to take a road trip with her. I also want to look into what it takes to be a therapy dog. Everywhere she goes, people love her. She won over everyone at the vet's office with her sweet disposition. I think she would do well as a fuzz therapy dog. I have big plans for us :-) 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Simple Pleasure #100

 
Click on Video to see the Explosion

 
Simple Pleasure #100

Cattail Reed
Squeezing
Bursting
with energy
 thousands of seeds
Exploding
Spreading 
Life. 

I don't know about you, but I LOVE this time of year, marsh grasses and reeds are drying up and forming grungy little seed pods (that I love to photograph!) 
Late Summertime

The cattails are practically bursting with their fluffy seeds. I like to occasionally help them along. It's such a simple little pleasure to give them a squeeze and feel the release of energy and watch them explode like one of those Fourth of July Snake bombs. Who knew that THAT many fluffy seeds could possible be compacted into a dried up cattail reed? 

Fly, be free! 

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Resurrection - My Blog and I



Solitary.

Wow. It's been over two years since I've written on this blog. I have a hard time coming back to it, because every time I do, I see my sweet pup's face and start bawling all over again. I didn't know I could miss an animal so much... but she was so much more, wasn't she? 

I'm not sure what I'm doing here. My days are filled with silence, my head is filled with noise. I find myself lately wanting to write. My usual medium is paint and paper and glue, my art journals are filled with color and lines and marks, a word here and there, a thought or a song lyric or poem. But I have so many WORDS filling my head and nowhere to place them. Maybe the words will turn into stories...

What has happened since I wrote the last post about my furbaby leaving me? Much has happened. The last two and a half years of my life have been really hard. Like, "harder than going through cancer" hard. I always said that being diagnosed with cancer is like being plucked out of your current story and thrown smack-dab into the middle of a foreign novel. Well, I've managed to learn the language, write more chapters, and come out stronger and braver and more grateful than ever. 

I guess the universe decided it wasn't enough, to throw me THAT curve ball. I was yet again thrown into another book "analytical calculus for geniuses" written in Latin, or something just as outrageous. I find myself once again navigating through foreign territory, trying to figure out what the hell happened to my life. 

One word: Divorce. 

Twenty five years... my entire adult life I was half of a marriage (sometimes less) and now I needed to make myself whole again. One year was spent feeling betrayed, angry, hurt, confused, depressed, resentment, and just plain stupid for not seeing it coming. I went through every single stage of grieving and have never cried so much in my life. 

Shattered.

The second year was spent healing. I moved into my own little place and made myself a home. It has three bedrooms, one for my daughter, one for myself, and one for an art studio. The finished basement contains my business. I picked out every single piece of furniture and accessory, and my walls are covered with artwork made by me, my daughter, and my artist friends. It's bright and cozy and faces a beautiful pond full of ducks and geese, herons and egrets, seagulls and fish. Nature heals.

Nature Heals.

Bob.
I had a life coach, a good friend who was getting her certification, who helped my immensely. My job was to figure out who I was, what I liked and didn't like, what I wanted. Because during the last 25 years I learned to be apathetic about most things. It was easier that way. But now I was the boss of me, but had no idea what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be for the rest of my life. 

Flawed but Open
Of course I'm still figuring things out. I have a better sense of Self, but I still find myself every once in awhile waking up at three in the morning, my heart racing with anxiety. Up until July 2013 I knew what my future should've looked like, it was planned for and talked about and it was good. Now when I think about my future, I see a blank slate. So I take one day at a time right now, or I will slip into that blankness.  

Be Kind to Myself.
Yes, art heals. Just being surrounded by the art on  my walls is healing for me. Sitting in my art studio and rearranging my supplies has a certain calming effect. In my bedroom I have a big comfy chair and an IKEA Raskog cart filled with journaling supplies for when I need to curl up and release emotions. The living room has another big comfy chair and Raskog cart filled with sewing and hand stitching supplies, and my art magazines. I am surrounded by the familiar, my muses, my creativity. 

What's next? I carry on. I am working on reinventing myself, still figuring out who I am. I am working on practicing gratitude every single day. I am working on staying positive every day and showing my daughter how a strong woman handles adversity. And I am learning how to have fun and how to feel alive again. I'm even thinking of getting another dog. Maybe. Possibly. 

And guess what? I am a survivor. I got this. 

Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes... till next time. XOXO 




Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Saying Goodbye Sucks

A few days ago I had to say goodbye to my first baby, my furbaby, my constant companion for the past 15-1/2 years. Maddy Moo's spirit has been set free to chase squirrels and cats on the big farm in the sky. My heart is heavy. I am so sad. I am prone to spontaneous bursting into tears. But I need to write this. I need to talk about her and honor her and remember her in my own way.
Maddy Moo 4/13/97-10/5/12
I'm still coming to terms with the fact that she is gone. When I close my eyes at night and try to sleep I keep reliving the nightmare that was Friday evening. We were headed out to the country, Maddy's favorite place in the world. My parents have a little farm a few hours west of here and as soon as she would hear the word "Grandma's" she would go nuts. We loaded her up in the car (she could no longer jump up to the seat herself) and headed out to my sister's house to switch cars so we could travel together. She had the entire backseat of the van to herself so she could look out all the windows. Before we were even out of the driveway she fell against the seat and couldn't get up. I will spare you the details that keep me awake at night... let's just say that she wasn't doing well. My sister said her vet was on the way out of town, we could stop there and have her checked out, but I knew in my heart that this was it. She wasn't going to be okay. By the time we got to the vet, she was unresponsive and they took her in. Within minutes they had started an IV and did an ultrasound. It turns out she had a tumor (probably cancerous) on her spleen that had ruptured and she was bleeding internally. Rapidly. She wasn't aware of her surroundings at all. I knew I had to let her go. It was the hardest thing I ever did and it was worst day of my life so far. 

I thank god that my sister was with me. I'm grateful that my nephew was there also and he stayed with my daughter while I was with Maddy saying goodbye. I'm thankful that Maddy wasn't in pain or scared during the last moments while I was stroking her and talking to her. (Lack of blood/oxygen to her brain made her pretty "out of it") And while this experience totally and completely sucked, I'm glad that she went quickly and most likely not painfully. And while I may have nightmares for awhile, I'm glad I was with her during her final moments. I hope she knows I was there. 

She was truly the best. dog. ever. She was so easy to train as a puppy. We never needed an electric dog fence because she learned where her boundaries were and stayed in them. When we brought the baby home from the hospital she rolled over and submitted. I could leave a turkey sandwich inches from her nose and be 100% confident that I could walk away and she wouldn't eat it. She endured years of playing Princess Madeleine Mooples and being dressed up with scarves and crowns. 
Princess Madeline Mooples Fuzzbut  Cousineau
She never bared her teeth or showed aggression. Her joy was chasing squirrels and cats, playing frisbee when she was younger and ball when she was older, napping in the sun, and showing unconditional love. 
Pooped from playing ball.
She followed me from room to room and was my constant companion. My walking partner. My fuzz therapy. She helped me endure all my cancer treatments and stayed by my side during chemotherapy. 
At Grandma's house
She was the world's biggest mooch, she loved peanut butter, buttermilk pancakes, chicken, beef jerky and popcorn. She sat and waited patiently, staring at us until she got her nibble. She was so gentle taking food and she would chew every tiny morsel instead of gobbling and/or swallowing whole like a lot of dogs do. She stood patient and still while little kids pet her and poked her and pulled her fur and loved all over her. 
Enduring the love.
I seriously couldn't have asked for a better dog. She was my shadow and I don't know what I'll do without her. I'm going to have to get used to a new normal. Again. I love you Maddy Moo.
When dogs and recycling bins collide...

I would like to thank Animal House Veterinary Hospital and Dr. Sage for the extreme kindness and compassion they showed while caring for Maddy. And all of the people who have offered their condolences and understanding.





Thursday, September 13, 2012

Back in the Saddle



Life here is slowly getting back to normal. Well, as normal as can be once you've had a cancer diagnosis. Normal will never be the same, it will always be a bit prickly. During these trials and tribulations I've been posting and updating on my other blog, Life, Interrupted. But it's been awhile there too I'm afraid. Mostly because I'm tired at night, which is when I usually sit down to write. And I gave my old laptop to my daughter to use for her movie-making so it's no longer in my studio with instant access.

To Infinity and Beyond!
Trying to find a new normal is a bit discombobulating. (I love that word!) During my chemotherapy treatments I didn't feel like being creative. Instead I was showered by friends with little pieces of art and cards and well wishes and prayers, which meant the world to me. Each one lifted my spirits like only good friends can. I feel awful that I didn't get the chance to individually thank all my friends who sent gifts. I just didn't have the energy. But I want everyone to know that each one is appreciated greatly and loved dearly. I have them in a special box and I look through them occasionally when my spirit needs a lift. I am grateful for every. single. one.

I feel like I am getting back in the (creativity) saddle again. I took 984238572 pictures when we were in Maine. Okay, it just seemed like it because the camera was attached to me at all times. And just in case my new camera didn't work I always had my iPhone camera in my back pocket. I see in pictures, I can't help it. It was a wonderful trip, very relaxing surrounded by beauty with inspiration everywhere. The ocean does that to me. I have saltwater in my veins. 

While we were in Bar Harbor/Mt. Desert Island, they had their Legacy of the Arts week. Artists are appreciated, studios are toured, classes are offered, friends are made. One rainy Saturday my daughter and I decided to drive to Otter Creek to take a Zentangle class. I have never been in such a quiet and studious class! After about an hour of mad zentangling, people started loosening up and talking and visiting. I met a few really nice people who encouraged me wholeheartedly to follow my dream and move to Maine. I also rediscovered my love of doodling.
It kind of looks like fish? 
Long and Linear
Sand dollars have the most interesting patterns!
The sand dollar one was pretty big, I drew it in my 9x12 sketchbook. It took several days here and there and a lot of hand cramping!

On the way home from Otter Creek the mist was rolling in with some storm clouds and the pond on the side of the road looked so beautiful I stopped and took some more pictures. Shocking, right?

Anyway, a lot has been going on since June, Michael and I attended CHA Chicago, we came out with some new Map Stencils at Artistcellar, we renovated our 1950's bathroom, and at the end of August I took three classes at CREATE Chicago and had a ball creating art with others. I think it sparked me into feeling creative again. I have several projects in the works but I'm going to save them for another day. I'm going to really make an effort to get back in the blogging saddle again, it's been way too long!