Tuesday, November 25, 2014

life is not for sissys. sometimes I'm a sissy.

When does it get easier?
I find that I pray a lot these days.  I'm not really an organized religion person (aside from my sophomore year in high school when I became uber involved with the youth group of my local church but I'm pretty sure it was 99.9% about a boy).
But now I'm praying for another reason.  I'm begging for relief.
My life is hard right now.
I'm barely getting any sleep so I don't even have the right mindset to deal with it.
It started 25 months ago.  It started when Clarence was diagnosed with cancer.  We fought hard for almost eight months, surgery, chemo, trip to New York and another surgery, three days a week driving six hours for radiation, another trip to NYC for another surgery, and then we lost him.  To an aneurysm.  Since that time we've lost two more of our beloved animals, my dad was diagnosed with cancer, we were given full custody of a 17 year old girl, we have a 15 year old pit bull with severe dementia, and  a 17 year old dog in a wheel chair who literally can never be left alone.
The only time we leave the house is when we can take Seven with us, so that pretty much means that occasionally we get to go to my parents house.  In the last eight months we've got out once and that's because we got a babysitter.  Yep, we got a babysitter for our dogs.
It's 5am and I've been up since 11:30pm.  She doesn't want to sleep at all tonight.  I know my sleep deprivation is making everything harder.  I'm more emotional, more sensitive, I'm grumpy...
I pray everyday for it to get easier.  I pray for a break.  I pray for the well being of my family and friends. I pray for the animals and their families in the two pet cancer support groups I belong to, I pray for the things I am grateful for.  And that's a long list.
It's weird: life is rough right now, but I also love my life.  I just don't love what is happening right now.  
Watching anyone you love get old is hard.  Watching your animals get old, not knowing if they will be here in a month or a week, it's hard.  Feeling like every single person around you thinks you should euthanize your animals is hard.  Second guessing yourself morning, noon, and night is hard.
I don't like not knowing what to do.
My girl.  We adopted her when I ws 26 years old.  God, I was a baby.  Tom and I had been dating for eight months.  We moved in together fairly spur of the moment - driving around, saw a cute house for rent in a cute neighborhood, said "oh wouldn't that be fun", broke both of our leases, and moved.  Best decision ever, but it was a crap shoot.  It coulda gone all sorts of wrong.  A couple of months in we decide we want a dog.  I don't remember ever worrying "who will take this dog if we don't work?"  We just went and got a dog.  A puppy.
My puppy is 17 now.  I'm 43.  When did that happen?  We've been married for 15 years.  I've had this girl in my life longer than I've been married.  I've had this girl longer than I've had my house, longer than I've had my job.  She's been here for every foster dog who came and went.  She's been here for every dog we decided to keep and she was here through the loss of six of them.  She's been here, waiting for me, ready to drench me in kisses every time I come home.  She is a rock in my life.  She is tough, ahe is independent, and she is stubborn.  I honestly don't know if she will ever give up.  And I do not know how to choose that for her.
She can't walk and she absolutely hates that.  She is pissed as hell.  But she's eating, she's pooping and peeing.  She barks a lot.  She whines some.  She goes to physical therapy twice a week, acupuncture once a week, she takes like six meds that we need a chalk board to keep track of.  The very most she sleeps at a time is five hours and that's rare.  Tom and I take turns sleeping from night to night.  Tonight is my night to be up.  Probably not a good idea to write while sleep deprived.
I do not know what to do.  So I pray.  I pray for answers.  I pray for help.  I pray for guidance.  I pray for relief.  I pray for her to go to sleep and just not wake up.  I whisper in her ear that it's ok for her to go if she needs to.  But either she's not ready or she's not listening.  And God's not listening.  And if he is he's being way too subtle with his feedback for someone so sleep deprived.
So I zombie walk my way through my days.  I try to be present for the teenager and for my husband and for my parents, my brother, my friends.  But I'm doing a piss poor job at it.
So for now I try to enjoy every minute I have with her.  I try to commit these moments to memory.  I try to inhale her smell, memorize the feel of her ears between my fingers.  I try to say "I love you so, so much." as often as I can.  I try to be upbeat.  I try to make her life fun when I can.  
She's a dog, she will never ever know the joy she has given me.  She will never know the insane amount of love I have for her.  And she will never know the ungodly hole she will leave when she goes...

Sunday, August 31, 2014

no one wants to be Eeyore's BFF.

I've been reading and reading and reading all of the wonderful posts about Robin Williams over the days since his death and the outpouring of love is truly amazing.  I'm so glad that, from what I've seen, people are being respectful and kind.  And the fact that this has opened up more of a dialog about mental health issues might be the one silver lining.
I've had my own battles with depression and anxiety for several years.  From high school to my early 30's I dealt with depression.  I spent a number of years on anti depressants and seeing a therapist.  And then in my mid 30's anxiety made an unwelcome appearance and I struggled to find my footing once again.

I've been lucky, incredibly lucky.  I found the right medications, dosages, doctors, and now, thankfully, I don't need the meds.  But if either depression or anxiety reared its ugly head again I would be back on those meds in a hot second.

I feel terrible for folks new to the mental health issues family (welcome!).  But not for the reasons you might think.  Yes, I feel bad that anyone has to deal with it at all but one of THE hardest parts about the whole mess is the getting help of it all.  Asking for help.  Knowing how to get help. 
Depression, anxiety, panic attacks - I believe those are all probably emotions that we all deal with from time to time.  When we have loss in our life or stress, those are natural emotions.  It's when they become chronic and debilitating that we need to seek help.  But here's the thing - seeking help, asking for help, letting others know that you need help...that's a helluva lot easier said than done!  I've read countless posts over the last few days, folks begging people to get help when they need it - but often the truth is, we ARE asking but those pleas for help are falling on deaf ears.  Not intentionally of course!  But lets face it, we are a fucking judgmental society!  We expect A LOT from our friends, family, coworkers, spouses, parents, children... and those of us who do suffer with mental health issues, we try communicating that we are struggling, we try saying "no", we try asking for help, we try!  We try in subtle ways at first, we share how stressed we are, we share how hard a time we are having getting everything done, we share how tired we are, we share how hard it is just to get out of bed, we say "its all just too much!", we come right out and say We Need Help! But most of the time, in my experience, that is perceived as everything but a plea for help.  It is seen as weakness, laziness, that we aren't trying hard enough, that we don't care, we aren't giving enough, we aren't being a good friend/child/parent/coworker.  And let me tell you, when it is taking every. last. bit. of. energy. you. have. just to get through each day and you are met with judgement ... well, it's easy to think  "what do I have to do so that anyone, someone might see how far I've have fallen?"

I've found that most friends and family think that they WANT to help, but they don't really want to hear you "whine". They don't want to hear you cry or be depressed.  It's not fun.  Who wants to be around the sad, mopey girl?  Uh, no one, that's who.  We might be depressed but we aren't dumb.  We realize when our Eeyoreness is becoming a bummer to those around us.  So we pull inside even further.  We start to lie about why we can't do stuff.  We are "sick" a lot.  And that brings up another point - sometimes you just don't want to share and that needs to be ok!  But it's not always that we don't want to share, more that we know people don't really want to hear the real answer to "how are you?".  Someone says, to your face or you hear what folks are saying though the rumor mill, "where have you been hiding?"  do you a.) say "Oh, we've just been really busy.  You know, life!"  or b.) develop diarrhea of the mouth and tell them all of the REAL reasons why you haven't been able to face the light of day in weeks.  I generally opt for option a.  And while judgey judgerson is probably thinking, "lazy bastard hermit!" they probably would be eternally grateful if they knew that they had just dodged a bullet!  The fact is, I just don't always want to tell everyone what is "really" going on but I also don't want everyone judging me for not poking my head out of my hole for weeks on end!  Maybe I don't want to tell everyone and their dog that I'm depressed because my dad has cancer, I've lost six of my precious animals in the last three years, I am suddenly the parent of a 17 year old, my dogs are all old as Methuselah, and some things even too personal to share here ...maybe I just want to say "Sorry, I have a headache."

So all I want to ask is that everyone try to love a bit more and judge a lot less.  When a friend says she can't do something don't assume it's because she's a shitty friend.  Maybe, just maybe she is struggling.  Instead of guilt tripping someone for not living up to all of your expectations maybe consider that life is rough sometimes...sometimes people are doing everything just to keep their head above water.  Maybe each time we feel disappointment or jump to judgement we should consider - hmmm, wonder if something is going on?  Maybe they have a full plate?  Maybe they are dealing with something too emotional to explain?  Maybe instead of assuming the negative we start to have a little compassion...can you just imagine what the world would be like if we all just had a little more compassion?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Did you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world?

Seriously!  Tom and I look at Seven almost daily and and tell her that she is the MOST beautiful girl in the whole wide world!  And she is.  I know she is.  I am convinced that anyone who sees her and thinks 1.) that she is a plain brown dog or 2.) that she is a HE, those folks need to get to an eye dr. stat!

Seven has always had her own idea about things.  Since she was a puppy she called the shots.  I know dog trainers everywhere are cringing, but honestly, I don't care.  She does things her way...and while it's made things challenging in her older age, it's also a pretty good indicator of how she's feeling.  
At just a couple of months shy of her 17th birthday her limbs don't work as well as they used to.  I guess since that makes her almost 119 in people years we should expect some mobility issues.  She started laser therapy a couple years ago, then began weekly acupuncture about a year ago, then twice weekly physical therapy back in February...and a couple of months ago we made the plunge and bought her some wheels (technically it's a doggie wheel chair, but we don't call it that!).  Her stubbornness has made using said wheels a bit challenging but she is finally realizing that if she wants to continue her independence then she needs to embrace the wheels!  Just yesterday she actually ran in them, barreling over a dog bed as she went!  It was fantastic!
So for those of you with an older dog, if you are lucky enough to have all of their organs in working order, there is a lot you can do to keep your baby by your side!  Just yesterday Seven's physical therapist Ross (who Seven thinks is the bee's knees!) told me he thinks she is doing better than she was when she started six months ago!  Music to my ears!

So here's the deal Seven, 
As long as you've got bright eyes, as long as you can yell at me to do your bidding, as long as you flip and flail to avoid a snuggle, as long as you kiss my face, as long as you continue to be the most stubborn person I know, then it will continue to fight to keep you by my side for as long as I possibly can!
I love you baby girl!

Monday, July 21, 2014

every year 'bout this time...

Every year for the past, I dunno, five years, I've done this week long Christmas in July sale.  I don't even remember how the thing started but its kinda grown a life of its own.  I thought briefly about skipping it this year just 'cause things are so hectic around the homestead, but Tom and I managed to pull ourselves together and get it done!

So today it begins!  We've got a few new sales this year, instead of the same ole same ole.  We were brainstorming ideas a couple weeks ago and the teenager had some great contributions!  So two of this years sale days were all her idea!  So proud of her little marketing mind!!!

So here's a few photos of some new work that I'm particularly proud of as well as the deets on today's sale!  See ya!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Oh happy day

I rarely get mail.  I mean good mail, not junk mail or bills.  And then all in one day I get TWO letters!  Good, really good mail.  With goodies to boot!  A letter from my poppa with some beautiful bird feathers enclosed and a card from my sister in law with cicada wings enclosed.  How'd I manage that?  Just lucky I guess.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

a short history of Berkatu

We said goodbye to Berklie at 2:15 am on Thursday.
We reached the end of the line after three and half days in the hospital on IV fluids and meds to jump start those tired kidneys.  Tom picked our fur ball up and brought him home.  I cozied up the bedroom and we all piled on the bed, me, Tom, most of the dogs, and Berk.  
We spent nine hours together before he decided he was ready to go.  Tom and I kissed his ears and head, we told him we loved him, we told him it was ok to leave, we told him how lucky he was - he was about to get to see Preacher and Daisy and Clarence and Clishy.  I envied him that.
And quietly he took his last breaths.  It was just how Preacher left us.  It was excruciating and peaceful all at the same time.

I found Berklie 16 years ago under a car in a Schlotzkys parking lot.  He was covered in oil, he was the size of a minute, his ear hair was longer than his tail...seriously, look, the longest hairs nearly run out of this photo!!!
I knew he was ours.  Tom took some convincing.  But I remember us sitting on the bed, me, Tom, Seven, and Berk (that was our whole family back then...well, plus Daisy but she wouldn't imagine gracing us with her presence!)... Seven did something, she licked Berk or maybe she just gave her nod of approval and Tom said ok.  Even way back then Seven called the shots.
I think Berk must've known he owed his home and his new oil-free coat to Seven.  We often found him sitting on the table or counter scooping his food (or any food he could find) out of his bowl with his paw and then pushing it onto the floor for Seven.  He would then gargoyle over the edge and watch her eat it before scooping more food onto the floor.
Less than two weeks ago I found him pushing freshly cut chicken off the cutting board down to Monkey.  I can't count how many nights we were awakened by clanging in the kitchen, a slew of dogs licking the floor, and Berklie sitting innocently on the counter licking his paw with a "What?" look on his face.
When I found Berklie I was working at an outpatient therapy clinic in Georgetown.  I was a physical therapy tech and my job was basically to run through exercises with patients.  My favorite patient at the time, well, of all time, was Roger Smith.  He had had a hip or knee replacement, can't remember...he had been in WWII and each day when he would come into the clinic I would put him on the bike and say "okay Mr. Smith, where are we riding to today?" And he would name some place he had been during the war.  He would tell me all about the culture, the landscape, the food, and his experience there.  He was never negative about his time in the war...I looked forward to him every day.  I learned so much from him about places i'd never even heard of...i cherished my time with him.  In fact I got myself into a bit of trouble by moving him off of other techs schedules and onto mine!  
On his last day of therapy he came in, got on the bike, and handed me an envelope.  He said "we're having a test!"  Inside the envelope were pictures from his time in the war.  Some of him, some of his plane, some of his friends...each photo had little notes on the back, hints for me...the test was that I had to tell him, based on the photo and the hints he'd written on the back (just for me!) where each picture was taken.  I was floored.  I had this tumble of emotion from joy that he cared enough to do this to pride that I felt I'd actually maybe made his time in therapy fun for him.  I was crushed that he was "graduating".

I found Berklie that day.

When Tom and I agreed to keep him (although we thought HE was a SHE for the first three months!) I demanded that we name him after Mr. Smith in some way.  I wanted a way to remember this man who had touched my life in such a profound way.  Now that all of this time has passed I realize that I didn't really need a way to remember him...I couldn't forget him.  But I'm glad we gave Berklie a name with such a heavy meaning.  So since we thought Berk was a girl the name Roger was kind of out.  Smith wasn't doing it for either of us so I started going through all of the places Mr. Smith had shared with me...we got down to two: Mauritius (an island in the Indian Ocean) and Berkatu (some place in Libya). We landed on Berkatu.  aka Berklie, Berk, Bug, LeeLeeBug, Bug-a-boo, Buggie.  

I miss you Bug.  I went to let the dogs out last night and I was wedging myself into the crack in the door so that you couldn't sneak out.  It reminded me of the two times you did get out.  Once when we lived in Hyde Park.  You were gone for almost a day and in the middle of the night your dad sat bolt upright in bed and said "he's back!", ran to the front door and there you were.  The second time was almost the exact same thing - but we were leaving for London the next day and I was scared we were gonna have to cancel our trip..same thing tho, your dad knew the moment you were home and opened the front window and in you came.  You guys had some kind of crazy connection.
I never told you this, but I've decided it's time - you were a cat Berk.  I know you always believed you were a dog, but you were in fact, a cat.  I wish I had gotten a video of you last week, standing in the middle of all the dogs when I was trying to feed Seven, reaching with your paw trying to get the food before it landed in her mouth, oblivious to the pit bull, chow, plethora of snarky chihuahuas trying to swipe the food too!
I will never ever eat another Dorrito without thinking of you.  
I will never be able to watch Iron Chef and hear the chairman say "allez cuisine!" without thinking of you.
You were quite possibly the easiest animal on the face of the earth.  You were self sufficient to a fault.  You spoiled us.
I can't believe I am saying this but I miss your drool.  I miss your rubbing your fangs along my hand or arm or cheek and leaving a puddle of drool in its wake.
I miss knowing that the armoire door will never again swing open seemingly all on its own.

I don't know how you ended up at a sandwich shop in Georgetown, Texas but I will forever be grateful that you did.  Strange as it sounds I owe a debt to whoever was dumb enough to abandon you.  My life was better because you were in it.
I love you LeeLeeBug.  
Give Preacher a big 'ol head butt for me.
See you in awhile...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

these days...

I miss this little blog of mine.
I'm quite attached to it I realize and I miss it when dumb ole life gets in the way of my visits here.
I write here to share my work.  i write here to share the antics and adorableness of my animals.  I write here for the same reason I take a hot bath or eat a whole bar of chocolate - it just makes me feel better.

I keep telling myself to take the time, to give myself the time to come here and write, but often it is first on the chopping block when the list of to do's is getting whittled down from everything i want to do to everything that is mildly necessary to everything that is absolutely necessary to someone will die if I don't do this.  Most days the accomplishments are in the latter two categories.

This summer has been a blur.  I can barely believe its summer already and it's in fact, half way over.  School wrapped up for the teenage but before it was even done she had started summer school.  Two different classes at two different campuses.  Seven started physical therapy (twice a week) and got herself a set of wheels.  So far the the therapy has been a Godsend.  The wheels however, she just not that into them.  Tom is convinced that she is truly stubborn enough to make herself walk better just to avoid the wheels.  Could be.  I always say "she is the most stubborn person I know".

Sadly our sweet grey boy went into kidney failure this week.  He is 16years old and I know that this is what happens with older kitties, we went through this very thing with our 19year old girl Daisy...it's just that it is never easy, in fact it's downright miserable...we've lost five of our babies in the last couple of years. I just don't feel prepared to lose Berklie.  Hoping that he can talk those old kidneys into giving him some more juice for a bit... prayers, big loads of prayers please...
 Otherwise it's work work work.  Work is what keeps me sane, it is what keeps my mind from skittering off down some worrisome path.  Work let's me pour my thoughts and hopes and dreams and fears and loves and anxieties out onto the table so that I can hammer them and saw them and file them and turn them into something beautiful...work give me a place to put my inner tickings.

Here's a little peek...
So that's what's up with me.  What have you been up to?!?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I can be mighty.

I can be mighty.
Most of the time I think i'm fragile.  I feel like that is how others see me.  Kinda small, pretty fragile.  But I can be mighty.
Fragile isn't all that attractive I don't imagine.  When it comes to people.  Flowers and china sure, but fragile people?  
Does fragile = weak?  I'm starting to think that fragile is a misunderstood word.  I'm pretty sure there are times when being fragile, showing that you are fragile or vulnerable, IS being strong.

There are specific times in my life that I recall being surprisingly strong.  Surprising myself.  And then there are times that should have come easy ... 

Am I just like everyone else?  Are we all weak AND strong?  I don't know.  But what I do know is that it's pretty nice to realize that there is strength living inside of me.  In some corner of me there is strength and will.  I'm 40ahem years old and there are still things I learn about me.  I still surprise me.
I can be mighty.

What I'm learning is that sometimes our strength kicks in just when we need it...maybe it's self preservation, I don't know.  But my strength isn't something I've figured out how to summon.  It just shows up when I need it most.  10 years ago Seven had a major medical scare, like major!  When we arrived at the vet she wasn't breathing anymore and had to be resuscitated.  The vet thought she had ruptured a tumor and was bleeding out.  He advised we let her go.  Tom didn't take the news well.  We were both a wreck, but he was having a harder time outwardly.  His body was physically reacting to the emotions.  We asked them to try surgery to remove the tumor.  That meant Tom and I had to drive to the animal blood bank and get blood for her. I calmly drove us there.  When it was all over and she was safe (no tumor, just a ruptured hematoma on her spleen...sweetest words I've ever heard, "its just a hematoma") I felt myself breathe for what felt like the first time that long, long day.  I realized that I had done well.  I was strong.  I did what I had to do but not because I tried to or forced myself to.  My body, my mind, they just did it.  It was like strength on auto pilot.  Man, I sure wish that would kick in a helluva lot more than it does!

I guess just being alive means we are gonna have weak days and strong days, easy days and hard days, days where we do everything right and the ones where we do everything wrong...but recognizing what you have inside of you is important I think...there is a certain amount of confidence that comes with knowing that you can handle the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I CAN be mighty.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The goods

I've been thinking a lot the past couple of months, thinking about my work, where it's going, what I want to do, am I doing what I need to to make that happen.  I've realized, in all of my contemplation, that I've had my best work year ever.  The last 12 months might have been a struggle in a lot of other factions of life, but work has been truly wonderous.  I branched out this year, I started listening to my insides and I made what my head and heart wanted to make.  I let go of my fear of going big (both literally and figuratively) and as a result I've made work that makes me proud.  I find that most days I just cannot wait to get into my studio!

Now it's just a matter of balancing those big, one of a kind pieces with my more traditional, custom pieces, names, dates, initials, that kinda thing.

These last couple of weeks have been ALL momma, all day, all the time!  Nothing but Mother's Day!  Lots of names and birthdays of kiddos.  But when I can spare a moment or two I try to work on a few new pieces, part of that series I call Buoy.  I've been working up to a big shop update!  And while the custom order deadline has come and gone for Mother's Day, you could snatch up one of these today and I'll pop it in the mail to you tomorrow!

These pieces are what I live for.
Don't get me wrong, I love making everything I offer or I wouldn't, well, I just wouldn't.  But these are the pieces that make the wheels turn in my head, they are the ones that get me giddy like a kid set loose in front of bins and bins of candy.  I love the puzzle of what stone will go with what stone.  I'm excited to pour over words, songs, and poems, deciding what might pair so well with whatever stone, resin, or button concoction I've assembled that you wonder how they ever lived apart, that little lyric and that bit of turquoise...they just sing so beautifully together now, atop that silver ring.

I like to think about what people might fall in love with.  I know it is jewelry and on any day jewelry is a luxury.  But I do make jewelry that I mean to be more than pretty.  If I could have my way each piece I make would be a token of something to someone... This entire side of my work was born because I desperately needed something to buoy my spirits.  And because of that I hold dear each creation.

I'm feeling like I've been a bit long winded and verbose.  So I'm gonna go ahead and stop spouting on and on now.  I'll just leave you with these, a few more things to come out of the studio this week with Mother's Day, Father's Day, and graduation in the back of my mind...

Friday, May 2, 2014

a day in the life of a metalsmith with a new teenager and a whole bunch of dogs

Life has been a bit of a whirlwind since the teenager came to stay.  The other night at book club (aka wonderful group of women who help me keep my head on straight) one of my dear friends looked right into my eyes and said "how are you doing?".  Her eyes said more than her words.  I thought about it for a sec and I said, "ok.  I'm really ok."  When life is careening every which way it's hard to find time to wallow.

The average day goes something like this:

Get up, begrudgingly.  Try to keep one eye open enough to see the kettle so that coffee will save me soon.
Let dogs in and out and in and out and in and out ad nauseam.
Give out a plethora of dog meds to various aged dogs.  Seriously, Pasqual alone gets 16 pills in the morning!!
Make lunch for the teenager (anyone got any ideas for creative lunches that don't have to be heated up?  Poor kid has to be sick of pb&j, salad, and turkey sammies.)
Get dressed.  I use the term dressed loosely.
Deliver a cup of milk with a splash of coffee to the teenager.
Wrangle dogs into place for my 12 minute absence while I drive the teenager to school.
Come home, let dogs in and out and in and out and in and out because since my dogs can't tell time they are all pretty sure that I've been gone all the live long day instead of 12 exact minutes.
Plop down on the couch with a heating pad (for my wretched back) and the iPad and commence to answering work correspondence.
Head into the studio, crank up the pickle pot, turn on the gas, pop in the days dvd selection (100% guaranteed to be Magnum pi, Perry Mason, or Supernatural), wake up the computer, survey the clipboard of orders, and dive in head first!
Work for several hours in my typical skittery fashion, unable to stick to a task from start to finish.
Short heating pad break mid afternoon and another round of correspondence, blog, and the Mg social medias.
More work.  Happily.
Depending on the day there may be a trip to the vet or the veterinary acupuncturist right about here.
Wrangle dogs again.
Pick up the teenager.  Hear about her day, chat about boys and homework and tests and teachers and how freakin' complicated high school is now-a-days!
Home, feed dogs and another round of dog meds.
Scramble around for dinner ideas.
Make dinner.
And either collapse in front of the tv or maybe play a little Wii fit (teenager's idea and I secretly love it!)
Dogs in and out some more....I write this down in the chronology as if it only happens in these time slots when in fact it is happening constantly all day, every hour, every minute, every second.  (I might be exaggerating, but only slightly!)
And bed time.

It's not terribly exciting or terribly difficult...in fact it's probably down right normal...but lots of it is new to us.  And the thing is, it's nice.  And being busy really is good in stressful times, there just isn't too much time to think and get all worked up...especially when there is nothing you can do to change the situation.

So there you have it, a day in the life of a metalsmith with a new teenager and a whole bunch of dogs...and one cat.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

time to put my guard back up

So I think I had lulled myself into a bit of a false sense of security where this blasted cancer is concerned.  It's a fascinating thing, the way our hearts and minds deal with ongoing trauma in our lives...I've been coasting off the good news/outcome of my Dad's surgery for months now.  And it was easy to do really.  The surgery went better than expected and then all there was to do was wait for him to heal before then next step: chemo and radiation.  So that waiting period felt darn good.  The 16 hour surgery was only 12, the doctors felt they got everything, Dad was up and walking sooner than expected, it really all went so, so well.

But now we are on the cusp of treatment (unfortunately it's been postponed two weeks due to a little unresolved fistula at the trache site) and all that relief and breathing easy is out the window!  I went from zero to high alert in one conversation with the doctor.  Not because anything was really very wrong, just because the post surgery high is gone and the pre treatment low has set in.

A couple of weeks ago I spent a day or two binge reading an amazing blog: Teaching Cancer to Cry.  And having read that I am now even more apprehensive about how hard this is going to be for my Dad...and what if its too much?  What if he wants to stop?  I'm scared.  I know he must be scared.  And the bugger of it is he can't really communicate... No voice box = no talking.  He is trying to get the hang of the artificial larynx, but it tough.  So that's a whole other level of difficulty that I just hadn't prepared myself for... I need those heart conversations that give him the will and strength and motivation to keep going... 
It's just all a work in progress.  I think.  I hope.
So any spare good thoughts you have lying around, prayers, wishes, I will happily, greedily take them all.
Much love.

ps do yourself a favor, go to Teaching Cancer to Cry, find the earliest post and start reading from the beginning.  It should be published.  It is honest, hilarious, brutal, chock full of love and hope and fear...it is the blog of a friend of a friend, his name is Ezra Caldwell.  he started the blog as a way to keep his friends and family in the loop on his cancer...it is his account of his battle with cancer, remission, recurrence, remission, recurrence...it is a blog on bicycles and cooking, hurting and healing, humor and love....it's just amazing!  Go now.

Friday, April 25, 2014

organized chaos

Organized chaos.  That is my studio.  Tom stayed home from work today so that we could have a shared day off...but that quickly turned into him taking my car to the shop and then him working for Metalsgirl most of the day.  Oops.
Anyway, he walked into my studio and said "all I know is I'm not sitting THERE!", pointing an exaggerated finger at my bench.
Yeh, okay, it's a disaster.  I am not the most methodical worker.  I have a very hard time starting one thing and not jumping around to a few other things along the way.  So there are always parts of parts in some degree of completion or incompletion.  And yes, I have a bit of a vintage bowl, or more accurately, vintage butter pat plate obsession.  Hey, they are for work!!  They are excellent for corralling a project that is in some stage of..., well, see my above statement.
So real quick, can I just vent for just a sec?  My car.  I have somehow managed to live in the heart of Texas for four years, maybe more, it's a blur... anyway, at least four years with no air-conditioning in my car.  I don't wanna sound like a brat, but if you have anywhere to be during the day in say May, June, July, August, or September and it's more than a minute away, you just need to get ready to apologize on arrival for being a giant sweat ball!  And it's impossible to take the dogs to vet appointments because they are just looking at me like I should be arrested for cruelty to animals five minutes into the drive.  So, melodramatic me was super excited about a repaired, good-as-new ac!
Uh huh.
Never as simple as that.  Apparently my car is, and I quote, "puking oil all over my wiring and spark plugs".  And I need a new timing belt.  And a new this and a new that...  BLAST!
So, this is where you will find me for the next few weeks:
Firmly planted in front of the afore mentioned messy messy bench, working my tushie off.  The good news about that is: I love my job.  I do.  I absolutely love love love what I get to do for a living.  The only real problem is that there just aren't enough hours in the day to get it all done...I have a jillion different ideas and drawings that I wanna get moving on...for example, check out these great pieces I found last weekend at one of my favorite spots to score vintage bits and bobs to set into rings and things...
Hopefully you'll see these in the shop in the near future...unless of course you wanna stake your claim on one of them right here and right now!  If you just feel free and we can commence to collaboratin'!

Ok, that's enough of a break!  Shawhack! or what ever sound a cracking whip makes! I'm off to saw and file and sand and cut and solder and pumice and pickle and hammer until it's time to pick the teenager up from school!  Gotta go!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


remember this?

 It became quite large and bountiful...where are my pictures of that?!?!?!
Well it got picked up by Hometalk!  They wrote a lovely little post about starting a garden and unearthed my post about our little pallet garden.  Pretty cool!  By the way, our pallet garden is beginning it's third year.  It is a wonderful, inexpensive way to get started with raised bed gardening.  Give it a whirl!

Monday, April 14, 2014

cancer, cancer, go away...

Cancer has been too much a part of my life over the last couple of years.
First Preacher.
Then Clarence.
Now my Dad.

I was cruising through Instagram the other day.  Social media is an odd thing.  Like really, such an odd thing.  I saw a sweet photo from my friend Megan (she and her husband Greg adopted on of my most dear foster dogs ever, ever, ever and we've just kept in touch, become friends I'd say).  Anyway, she posted a photo with a sweet, sorta sad caption.  This is where social media is just odd.  My curiosity was piqued and I did a little googling around and discovered that her friend, whose home the photo was shot in, has cancer.  He started a blog at the beginning of his journey six years ago.  I started at the beginning and have been completely pulled in.

I'm not sure what it is with me and the sorrow of other people's tragedies lately.  I spent a good part of yesterday and this morning still completely immersed reading the Teaching Cancer to Cry blog.  I would have kept reading, but, on this dreary, rainy day, I have a little work to wrap up before I ready myself for a funeral.  It's kind of hard to read, knowing all along, ahead, how things are turning out...

I put my phone (aka reading device) down and went into the studio to work.  I couldn't even bring myself to turn on the lights.  Instead I tuned my phone to my collection of Jackson Browne and set about packaging orders to the lamp light on my desk.  Now that's done and I need to go get dressed.  But I'm stalling.

We lost a dear, sweet man this past Saturday.  I've known he and his wife my entire life, just life long dear family friends.  I'm not quite sure if I've ever met a kinder, more gentle person...and he and his wife have had the kind of marriage that you dream of having.  The kind where you don't know where one begins and the other one ends...just beautiful.  But now, I just don't know how she will go on with out him.  Last night I was hugging her and she whispered in my ear "Please don't forget about me."  Gutted.

I've gotta go.
Sorry for the kinda grey post.
Keepin' it real.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

my sympathies

You know that thing where you hear sad news, sad news that doesn't really affect you, but it's still sad news?  And you are going about your day and you keep wondering why you feel so hazy and then you remember that sad news...?  That's happening to me.

I feel a little silly.  I really truly do not go in for all that celebrity gossip crap.  I don't.  I don't read the magazines, I don't watch the gossip- y shows, it sometimes takes me forever to hear that so-n-so married so-n-so or divorced so-n-so... But somehow, on Monday, I heard the news that Peaches Geldof had died just right away.  I'm guessing that there's a lot of Peaches who? questions right now...  I don't know that much about her truthfully, all I know is that she is the daughter of a man I have admired and adored for most of my life.

As I said, I don't go in for all that celebrity stuff, but when I was 13 years old I discovered Bob Geldof and I have loved his music, admired his politics and humanitarian efforts, and I have been in awe of the high road he has taken in his personal life, his tragic personal life.  A few years ago I had the utter privilege of seeing him perform and I can honestly say it is one of the top 10 experiences of my life...it lived up to everything I could have imagined where he was concerned.

the set list i swiped from the stage after seeing Bob, live, here in Austin a few years ago.

Shoot, I even named one of my foster dogs after this very daughter of his a few years back...

So, as silly as I feel, posting about celebrity gossip, I find I can't help it.  For the last three days I've had a sad cloud over my days...I don't know if I expect to learn something from this sadness or if I expect to enlighten anyone with this post, or if this is just a purely selfish, diaryesque kinda purge on my part...I don't know...

Maybe I just want to extend my sympathies in the only way I can think of...

There are no words, no flowers, not even any prayers that ease this kind of pain.  And I cannot imagine a pain worse than the pain of losing a child.  So expressing sympathies seems a bit, I don't know, futile.  But I want to say I'm sorry.  I want to wish her family peace.  I hope that grief shows them mercy...

Godspeed Peaches Honeyblossom.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Finding balance at 42?

I'm 42 years old.  I have a question?  When do we figure it all out?  How to balance it all?  Work, family, friends, self?  And those are just the big important things, what about all the menial things that go along with being an adult like laundry, grocery shopping, yard work, vet visits, house cleaning...I mean really, when is it that I am supposed to have time to clean the baseboards?

Having a teenager in the house adds a whole new level to this question of balance.  And the thing is, she's not hard!  And she helps out.  Yesterday she and I did a whole pile of yard stuff that has been in desperate need...I am pretty sure the neighbors were about to have a come-to-Jesus talk with Tom and I about the yard.  So , she's a good kid...I just have to think about things like school lunches and another set of clean sheets and I need to be "on" a lot more than I used to.  Know what I mean?

So, tell me: at what age do we get it all figured out?  I just need a rough estimate so that I can have an idea of how much longer I have to feel like I am just flying by the seat of my pants through life.  Like I said, just a rough idea...

In the mean time I mostly keep my head down and work.  Work, work, work.  That is my coping mechanism.  Work.  So here's the recent product of my coping:

Can you tell I'm kinda going through an aqua phase?

Okay, I will sit back, eat my bonbons, and await your answers to my questions.  Or I will go into my studio, close my door, turn on my Magnum pi, and forget anything else exists while I await your answers!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

@ABGB Today! 1pm to 7pm

Music by Bob Schneider, Jon Dee Graham, Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Matt the Electrician, Steve Poltz, Billy Harvey

Sunday, February 23, 2014


February 8, 2014
I've been sitting here searching for words, the right words...the problem is that there are too many stories to tell, too many thoughts in my head.  But the thoughts are half thoughts, one begins and another thought interrupts...  I'm flitting from worry to hope, from sadness to regret, from fear to denial, from panic to relief...
Just three weeks ago I simply could not believe that we had lost another one of our babies.  I don't know if its normal or if it is some kind of self preservation or if its just just stupidity, but I always believe that things are going to be okay and then I am surprised when they aren't.  I feel like I should have learned to expect the worst, but I don't, I still expect a happy ending.  When Clishy made it through her ruptured heart valve I believed we were out of the woods...losing her knocked me flat.
I started to come up for air, using my work as a beautiful distraction, and hunkered down to recover.
But it was short lived.
Now I'm lying in a hotel room in Albuequerque, New Mexico.  Because five days ago my dad had emergency surgery and was diagnosed with cancer.
Before I could get to him my brain was going wild.  Every senario was chasing through my head.  Apparently when you can't see and hear things first hand you make up your own story of what's happening.  My stories were all over the map.  Of course I was scared.  Any time you hear the C word it's terrifying.  
The night before I got on a plane it hit me: I might lose my parent.  Of course I had been scared of him dying, but I hadn't thought of losing a parent.  Do you get the difference?  It's just not something I had ever thought of before.  I would be in this world minus one of my birth parents, like being half an orphan.  I'm not explaining it well, but I doubt it's explainable...it's just the realization that you could lose a parent...it was awful....
February 22, 2014
My life got flipped, turned upside down.
The theme song from The Fresh Prince of Bel Aire will not leave my head.
I'm home, my Dad has since been jetted (literally) to Houston from New Mexico for treatment.  And my Dad's wife's 17 year old daughter has come to live with Tom and I.
My fingers would fall off before I could possibly explain it all...but we are making it work.  My nerves are racked.  Mainly from the sheer number of things going on each and every minute of each and every day.  I might have a plethora of dogs but I realize I have built a fairly calm life.  So this new chaos is a challenge for me.  I'm working on rising to the occasion.

I want my Dad to get well, I want Dana to be happy here with Tom and I, I want to be able to work, I want Tom and I to be okay, I want my dogs to be healthy, I want to be able to take deep breaths, I want my family to be proud of me, I want to see my friends and get a big, long, comforting hug, I want to take a bath and read a book...I want a lot, don't I?

Monday, January 13, 2014

My little Clishy Marie Shew

Sometimes life happens so fast that you don't have time to process what is happening.  Sometimes you don't realize that you've just had your head down and you've been barreling through with a little force field around you, just getting through it.

Picture me, head down, leaning forward, inside a bubble, just pushing forward.  That's been my last few weeks.  It wasn't until I got a little distance from the things that have been rushing up that I realized its full gravity.  

I called the vet a few days ago to ask a few questions...this was the vet that initially saw Clishy Marie when we took her in...during the course of this conversation he said the words "she died" or "she was dead" five times.  I knew that she had "crashed" and that they had to do CPR and that they "brought her back" but I didn't think of it in those blunt terms.  She died.  Throughout her stint in the hospital I was terrified, but I didn't let myself think about what could have happened.  But hearing those words, I didn't have any choice but to think about it...for a split second I felt angry.  Angry that it happened.  Angry that we almost lost her.  But then I was flooded with relief and gratitude and love for my little girl.

Things have changed since she came home.  She stays super close to me.  She sleeps in the bed.  She clamors into my lap the moment I sit down.  She even looks at me different, maybe its my imagination.  Everyday I look at her and I think about how close I came to losing her.  And I feel so unbelievably lucky.  I kiss her cheek, I kiss the top of her head, I tell her I love her, I tell her how precious she is...
and I tell her not to leave me.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Oh Christmas.

I love Christmas, I really, really do.  But there's a lot of pressure at Christmas, for Christmas, FROM Christmas.  Does everyone feel that?  Not just the gift giving pressure - that is just silly, we all need to get over that!  I'm talking the bigger pressure, pressure to have fun, pressure to enjoy yourself, pressure to be happy, pressure to take it all in, pressure to be in the moment, it's a lotta dang pressure!  I do it to myself every year.  I love Christmas and I have this HUGE desire for it to be perfect!  I want to wrap the perfect gift, bake the perfect food, watch Miracle on 34th Street, It's a Wonderful Life, and the Family Stone, in that order.  I want to have baking day, sit by the fire and stare at my Christmas tree, drink eggnog every day, drive around looking at Christmas lights, go see the latest holiday movies, I want to Do. it. All.  But I can't.  And then I'm left feeling a little disappointed when it all comes to a halt on December 26th.  See?  Pressure.

And this year was rough going in.  I knew I would constantly be thinking about this time last year...
And then, three days before Christmas, Seven had a seizure.  
Scared the bajeezus out of us!  Tom found her lying on her side on the porch, stiff and drooling.  We flew, in total panic, to the emergency clinic not sure if she'd had a stroke or a seizure... Turns out it was probably a seizure.  I'm scared to think about why she might have had a seizure, but for now we are gonna pray for no more seizures and be grateful that our 16 year old girl recovered and is back to her stubborn, ornery self!

Then, two days before Christmas, Tom woke me, holding our little Clishy Marie Shew
saying he was leaving immediately for the vet. 
She was breathing really weird, loud and raspy.  The diagnostic process was rough, in fact they had to stop trying to diagnose her because it was causing so much stress that she went into cardiac arrest and they had to do CPR.  When they stabilized her we moved her to a specialty hospital.  There they diagnosed her with a ruptured chordae mitral valve.  She was in heart failure.  She  was in the hospital for five days.  We almost lost her twice the first day...the doctor update that first evening was dire.  Tom and I spent that entire night in our clothes, camped in the living room, in paralyzing fear of hearing the phone ring...but each day after that terrifying night seemed to get a little better.  Now our little girl is home, not out of the woods, but home.  She now has her very own internist and cardiologist!
So this Christmas, the actual week of Christmas, was a whole new kind of pressure and stress.  And it put all of that other pressure in perspective a little bit.  I hope I learned something.  I hope that next year I can enjoy the things I can do and let go of the things I can't do.  I want to try to redefine what the holidays are about for me...I know me though, and I'm still gonna have to watch Miracle on 34th Street.  There's no doubt about that.