goodbye & hello... good things come in large packages

Almost exactly 24 hours after we said goodbye to Roux, we had the most spectacular sunset we've had in quite some time... I like to think of it as Roux's sunset. Gentle rains followed for a couple days. I always look for signs from my environment during times of sadness or stress... a special bird, or animal, or sight... something to tell me things will be fine or right themselves soon. I take this as one of those.

Now, I have a new guy in my life... he's a good listener with soulful eyes, who kisses my tears away when I am sad for missing Roux, who lays his great, warm head in my arms, who looks at me & says, "I know how it feels to be sad, but I'll help you feel better & I'll love you with every fiber of my being all of my days on this earth because I am so happy to have found my forever home"...

meet Roger!

Roger was dropped off with 3 other dogs by the same person at the county animal shelter & then rescued by a local no-kill group. I found him by looking at Petfinder.com . I cannot go to shelters myself because it is so overwhelmingly sad for me, even on a good day, that I cry. Roger was advertised as a 1 year old mastiff-retreiver mix, but our vet is quite sure he is about 2 years old, mostly Rottweiler & with his black spotted tongue & soft coat, maybe retriever with chow or sharpei?

All I know is that he is a 90 pound love sponge, with pretty good house manners, a yarn fetish, a fascination with birds & bunnies, & a little bit of separation anxiety, which I am working on. He loves hanging out in the studio, although he does need to learn not to put his head into the working parts of looms.

I found out about the yarn fetish when DY Begay dropped by for a visit... she was in Tucson to bring her weavings that will be included in the 3 women artist collaboration exhibit, Land, Art, and the Sacred: Three Perspectives, being held here at Pima Community College. It will be quite a dazzling exhibit, already on display, but I am waiting for the gallery talk & artist reception so I can savor the anticipation of seeing it for the first time. DY came by to let me choose & purchase a saddle blanket woven by one of her relatives on the reservation. We presented it as a gift to our beloved vet, Dr. Nunn. We gave his partner, Dr. Koski, a small blanket I had woven from local Alpaca yarns, & the staff a couple pizza certificates to thank them for all of the care our pets have received from their clinic since we moved here.

So, about Roger's yarn fetish... as DY & I were looking at the blankets she had brought, I heard a noise that sounded like Roger was rolling on his studio bed & playing with a toy. Well, he was rolling on the bed, but he was rolling around with a ball of yarn in his mouth! When he ran through the studio with it wrapped around him, I figured it out pretty quickly, especially since that particular ball was attached to a poncho in progress on my triangle loom! I discovered that wrestling with a 90 pound dog that flops on the floor thinking it's part of the game to keep grabbing the yarn once I got it pried out of his mouth can be challenging, especially with a guest standing there watching the whole thing! Luckily, DY has a large Akita, so she understands & she even helped untangle Roger.

He has tried making off with other balls out of my yarn baskets, but I've caught him before it was too late. When I was putting away newly wound yarn I had just bought from Norsk Fjord Fiber, I had my yarn cabinets open & Roger sat gazing into them like he was looking at shelves full of chocolate. Wow, well I guess most of us feel like that about fiber, now that I think of it. When he went to the old dog toy basket & rummaged around, the toy he brought back to the studio was a sheep. Hmmmmm.......

Earth, Air, Fire, Water opened at Tohono Chul two weeks ago & the exhibit is ¡muy fabuloso! The reception was crammed with people. I immediately saw my earth & sky & Bengt Erikson's Rincons since they were displayed near one another, but then a friend mentioned there were two other tapestries in the exhibit... I turned around & gasped as I saw Michael Rohde's two magnificent tapestries, hung on either side of the exhibit hall's large picture window. They extended nearly floor to ceiling. How exciting to have other tapestries included in the same exhibit! I especially loved how my tapestry was displayed alongside some beautiful jewelry pieces, one with a large chunk of polished agate. All of the tapestries garnered much interest during the reception & I talked to many people who were quite intrigued with the process of tapestry design & weaving. Although earth & sky was quite small compared to most of the works in the exhibit, many people came up & told me they were drawn to it from across the room because of the colors & subject (The Vermilion Cliffs).

The other Tohono Chul exhibit, Turquoise, opened the following week without a reception in the smaller gallery. I have a tapestry in there as does Deborah Komisarek, a fellow Desert Tapestry Weavers member. Surprisingly, neither of us knew the other was submitting... we both designed geometric tapestries based on the concept of inlaid turquoise jewelry & even had very similar titles-- hers, Inlay 1, & mine, inlay 9. I have visited that exhibit & our tapestries complement each other very nicely. I hope to revisit the exhibit & get some photos to post of both our works on display.

And, speaking of Michael Rohde, he is in town teaching a rug weaving workshop at the Desert Weaving Workshop. I had the exciting pleasure of attending with my dear friend, Stacey, a slide & video lecture he gave last night on his trips to Tibet & Lithuania that explained the inspiration behind his body of work, Houses for Nomads, which was exhibited in a solo show in Lithuania last year. A wonderful lecture with fabulous photos & videos with audio that he took of the people & many festivals that were going on during his visit, along with photos of all of his tapestries. It was very inspirational to hear how he was inspired by the people, their lands, their culture. He brought a few of the tapestries with him, how very special to get to see them! I hope to make it into town tomorrow evening to the little gathering they will be having after the workshop is finished for the day.

So, Roger & I are settling into a routine of morning walks, helping him learn to be comfortable & learn the rules in his new home, & working in the studio. Right now I am working on writing my class notes for my upcoming beginning tapestry workshop I will be teaching in the nearby town of Bisbee at the end of February. My weaving consists of weaving a sampler on one of the frame looms the guild is providing, one, so I will know how their looms work, and two, because it is helping me while I am writing. So, I weave a bit, jump up & go the computer, write a bit, & repeat, while Roger snoozes (& sometimes snores quite loudly) on his studio bed. My sister is coming for a visit in mid-February & as I have been helping her learn to weave, we'll be able to get some hands on time to help her advance her skills. I also hope to take us on an overnighter field trip while she is here up to Burnham's Trading Post so she can see some beautiful examples of Navajo weaving & we can buy MORE yarn!

You ask of my companions. Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog as large as myself that my father bought me. They are better than human beings, because they know but do not tell. ~Emily Dickinson


another road on life's journey

Life, for the last month of '07 & the first week of '08, decided to take a sudden turn down a bumpy road. Since this is supposed to be my journal, & a journal's purpose is to record events in one's life, I think it is important to also include sad times as well as happy, upbeat ones. It can't all be a reflection of the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind... these bumps in our lives are what make us grow, what help us learn about our own true natures & the nature of others in our lives.
The period of time after Thanksgiving & before New Year's Eve has never been my favorite. Not only do I miss the daylight hours that have been replaced by darkness, I also have come to dislike Christmas. Although I am spiritual, I am neither religious nor believe in any unseen deity, & I am saddened by the wasteful consumerism that has come to mark the season. What makes me happiest at this time is the passage of the solstice, marking the gradual lengthening of daylight hours. My feelings about this time of year are usually enough for me to deal with, but life decided to throw a few barbs in as well.

My father was hospitalized for almost 2 weeks in the beginning of Dec for pulmonary/cardiac edema & to try to save his leg from amputation. He had refused to go in for treatment for 5 weeks, so they had a mess to deal with when he finally went (because he couldn't breathe). Upon returning home, he resumed his smoking, drinking, & not elevating his legs as much as he should. On Christmas day, my mother had a minor stroke & was hospitalized for a couple days. Luckily there were no residual effects for her. Both of my parents are nurses & have knowledge of how they should care for themselves, but I have come to terms with recognizing that they are the only ones who can make choices about how they live their lives. I have siblings who live near my parents & they help out during these times. I am closer to my sister who lives there, so I stay in close contact with her, explaining the medical things & giving my "nurse perspective" on the situation. Needless to say, a very stressful few weeks.

Which brings me to the last little bit... we finally had to have our old Roux put to sleep on Friday, January 4th. Just before Thanksgiving, she had labs drawn that indicated she was headed into kidney failure. We declined taking her in for 3 days of IV therapy because we thought that being there away from home at her age (14) would kill her faster than staying at home where she wanted to be. So she did quite well until the last weeks of the year, when we started seeing a rapid decline. We finally knew it was time to make the decision we have been dreading since her cancer diagnosis a year & a half ago. What was great was that since Dennis was home so much (he always has lots of time off at the end of the year & had extra to burn), we got to spend lots of time being together here with her & taking her for walks around our property. She got to eat turkey at Thanksgiving one last time. She played with her toys & chased Dennis down the driveway. Her last day was perfect, so warm & sunny we could open the bedroom window, she could smell the light breeze & hear the birds singing. We took turns hanging out on the bed with her. She ate cookies in bed & played with her favorite toys a little. In the late afternoon, when we took her out to use the bathroom one last time, a pack rat jumped out in front of her from the bushes & she almost nailed it. It was just a little too quick for her, but she felt like a young dog again, if only for a few minutes. The last couple of hours before our wonderful vet came here to perform euthanasia at home, I laid with her & just kept petting her the whole time. My arm never got tired. The vet came & it all went smoothly... she went very quickly & peacefully. As her heart stopped beating, our vet said, "She's on her journey now" & he was crying as much as I. Poor Dennis couldn't bear to be in the room, so after he walked the vet out, he came in & had his moments with her. It was so hard to let her go, but we know it was the best for her... we didn't want her to get so bad that she was really suffering, so it was better to do it while she still had some of the "old" Roux spark. We buried her here on our desert property, in a very sunny spot with a good view in all directions.

We will miss her little paws, her pointed ears, the mischievous glow in her amber eyes, the swagger in her walk, the rocks she used to carry around & try to sneak in the house. But most of all we will miss her love. Roux's passing has also brought back many memories of our other dog, her buddy, Bear. He died almost 4 years ago very suddenly during our first trip to our New Mexico mountain property, and we still think of him very often. He is buried there, in a shady spot under the fir trees.

A dog era has come to a close. While our hearts mend with cherished memories, we are looking forward to the time when we will welcome other dogs in need into our hearts & home.

I have sometimes thought of the final cause of dogs having such short lives and I am quite satisfied it is in compassion to the human race; for if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time?
Sir Walter Scott

To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace. Milan Kundera