Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Tie Severed

Something in me has snapped- the tie to this place and its shattered dreams. That tie snapped when I had to euthanize 2 cats last week. I am sure I will be crushed when I leave for the last time but right now I just want to find a new place and get this over with. I have a leave-by date of August 21 but my search for a new home and workspace has been so far unproductive.
I have arranged for a sale of household goods on the 8th & 9th, and mercifully, I will not be here, I will be at work at the nursery.
I have rented a dumpster and am filling it with junk from the garage, studio and attic- filling it rapidly- I may need to rent another....
So that is where I am today. Spiritually, I have to keep reminding myself that the only things I can control in all this are my actions. I have a choice when someone says something incredibly rude or inconsiderate, I have a choice when a rental prospect turns out to be a complete shithole despite the glowing ad in the paper, I have a choice when events don't go the way I want them to go- and that choice is to do something I will just have to make amends for later or let it flow over me leaving me untouched. I am choosing serenity more often than not, but I need to say that I struggle often. Serenity does not come naturally to me, it is a conscious choice I have to make over and over and over again while I begin this new life. Everyday I must get my exercise by taking 12 steps.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

To New Homes

Today was the big garden sale. Many friends, a few friends of friends, and a few strangers came and dug up many of the perennials in what had been my garden. Fortunately there is enough left for the birds, bees and butterflies- many of the shrubs planted especially for them had grown way too large to be dug up. The monarda 'Mahogany' had spread so much that there was more than enough left. And, at 10.5' tall, the Joe-pye weed was left undug. I was a bit amazed at how many plants I had- darn I had worked harder than I thought. Over the past year, I had been so wrapped up in trying to save this place that I had ignored the garden and in combination with the heat and dry weather we've been having, it looked pretty dreary. But people were able to see that amongst the jewelweed there were some real horticultural gems.
To my utter amazement and joy, some dear friends came up from Long Island and New Jersey to say goodbye to my old life. I was very choked up and grateful to them for their support. I was able to keep focussed on the plants for most of the time instead of dwelling on the losses- I was very much in work mode, as if I was at my weekend job at the nursery- a blessing to keep busy helping others.
Now it is quiet and I don't know if that means it is over for today. Someone may still show up- I hope one friend in particular, a very knowledgeable native-plant gardener, will. There is a clump of the double-flowered Bloodroot that with his name on it.
I was shocked by the number of large terra-cotta pots I had amassed- but I should not be shockable anymore considering how I have had to face my acquisitiveness in the house already. For a time I was greatly enamored of the lush overplanted pots seen often in British gardens but I am not good at keeping potted things alive even outdoors. And I find annuals, while charming, are very expensive in the long run. But they have moved to the homes of some good gardeners who will keep them filled with beautiful plants instead of filled with dead soil in my garage.
This week I will continue on my search for a new home and continue packing.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Rest in peace in God's compassionate embrace, Pixel and Twyla. I loved you very much.

Goodbye to Dear Friends

The losses continue. Today I have to take 2 elderly, ill, cats to the vet for mercy. Twyla, a brindle Maine Coon Cat, and Pixel, a B&W Maine Coon, are both on that ghastly downward slope- kidney failure, shocking weight loss, unsteady gait; and today Pixel stopped eating. I will miss them terribly, especially Pixel who has been a joy and delight in my life for the past 16 years; and coming on top of the many griefs and blows of the past month it is just a bit too much today. I had planned to go to my part-time job for a 1/2 day today but I need to stay here and just hold them on my lap and tell them how much I love them and what an honor it has been that they have been part of my life here.
It is no coincidence that Pixel has lived here as long as I have. A few months after I moved here, I buried Poohka in the garden and then Smudge joined her a year later. The beloved Pinkie left last year at the venerable age of 21. Pixel arrived shortly after Poohka left and filled that hole in my heart.
In some horrible symmetry, I am again losing friends and moving. This time, however, I have no garden in which to bury them. I need more spit and baling wire, the few intact bits of my heart now broken.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

From the Corrections Dept.

I had posted earlier that I did not have too much to sort through, pack, sell, etc. I was very, very wrong. I am dismayed by the amount of stuff I have to get rid of. I have filled the living room of the house to the brim with goods to be sold on and there are still the garage and the attic to deal with....
Now, I might try to finesse this by saying I was being very abstemious in what I am taking with me, but I will probably have to keep the storage unit- albeit a smaller one- when I find a new place to live. Out of the collection of hundreds of teapots I kept 10, out of the collection of china, I kept 3 small sets, out of the collection of wooden animals on wheels, I kept 5; but even then it seems like there is too much stuff.
How am I going to shift all of this? An antiques dealer is coming by this afternoon to set up an estate sale. I am having a "dig your own" garden sale this weekend and I hope can move on some of the stuff from the garage... Oh, I am getting a headache.....

Lies, Damn Lies & Platitudes

If one more person tells me that "this is just a doorway to something better," I will throw up onto their shoes.
I want to ask them- "How do you know!? Prove it!"
Ever since I was a child I have been bombarded with platitudes about the future- I guess nowadays they would be called affirmations- "you can do anything you want to do," "your talent will be rewarded in due measure," and so on. And I have always hated those obvious lies. I can do anything I want to do? I am medium height , middle-aged and overweight, can I be a model? A ballerina? Not that I want to do those things but those careers were not/are not possible for me.

Listening to those platitudes in my own head is, in part, how I landed here- that magical thinking that tomorrow my talent would be discovered and rewarded and my home & studio would be saved. I just need to hold on for one more day, and another, and another. While today I stand in a shambles of a dream surrounded by excess stuff that I hope can be sold.
And its not that I have been spending my time dreaming- I have taken so many actions that my head spins, but all of them to no avail. The list of galleries and publishers I have sent DVDs or dummies of my work to and have gotten absolutely no response- not even an email saying "thanks but no thanks"- reads like a directory of the industry.
Well, perhaps my talent has been rewarded to its fullest extent- a sobering thought.
I have also heard from many people who have gotten through ghastly life circumstances and for those stories I am grateful. But then I think of the millions of people who have also been visited by great misfortune and who have not come out the other side to something better- we don't hear their stories but we see them on the streets collecting soda cans in shopping carts, or buried in unmarked graves in Potter's fields.
Today, the glass is half-empty, please don't tell me its half-full unless you have a pitcher of water with you.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Twixt Pillar and Post

The past few days have been rather rough. I have been bounced between pillar and post and have not an unbruised spot on my body, soul or ego. On Thursday, just as I was rushing to finish a cover assignment for Cricket magazine, there was a knock on my door and it was the deliverance of a 10-day vacate order. I pretty much fell apart. I had asked my lawyer to request a boon of the purchaser(s) of the property to allow me to stay until the end of August so I could sort out, pack up, sell off, and find a new place to live.
After about an hour of pure panic, I was able to speak to my lawyer and he reassured me that in 10 days the sherriff would not lock my house and throw everything out onto the lawn. That the dance was longer and more complicated but that I also needed to make some substantial progress on getting out to show a judge I was not malingering.
Later that day I got a call saying that I had won the prize for the current show at the WAAM.
That evening I got some boxes and started sorting and packing- I had to something other than what, deep down, I wanted to do- which was to run mad into the night.
The next day, a friend announced that on Sunday, she and several other people were coming over to help me pack. I had made some progress on my own but was both aghast and terrified at the prospect. My memory shot back more than 30 years to when my father died. Our house was taken over by well-meaning neighbors, and I mean taken-over. I found someone in my bedroom picking up my dirty clothes; my (open) journal and some very, very personal papers were laying out on my desk. I went down to the space I had carved out of the basement to be my 'studio' and another neighbor was cleaning it up- throwing out the "junk"- actually a project I had been working on. There was no place to go to be quiet and grieve; our lives had been invaded by an army of action-oriented Mid-Westerners. My most persistent nightmare was of home-invasion and here it was coming true, with a grim smile plastered on its face. And now my nightmare was going to be enacted again.
Saturday evening, I went to the WAAM opening to receive my prize and was overwhelmed by the acclaim that greeted me. In some ways the outpouring of love and support was as hard to take as the harsh, "just business" attitude of the person who now owned the home and studio I had loved so much. I cannot find the still point between the pillar and the post but keep being slammed from one to the other.
It is now Sunday evening and one of the harder days of my life is over. I am exhausted and trying to deal with my feelings of admixed grief at what I am losing, anxiety about the future, shame about having to ask for help, shame about the condition of the house, grief about the future- I have two elderly cats with kidney failure, and have to take them to the vet for euthanasia this week, I cannot take them to a new place, and much gratitude to the many, many people who have expressed their support in many different ways. The friends who came today did not pass judgement on me, they went to work and accomplished a lot. Most of my worldly (household) goods are now boxed for taking with me or piled for sale. I must begin tackling the studio this week.
My heart is currently being held together with spit and baling wire. All I can do is just take the next right step and after that, the next, even as the pillar comes rushing at me and then the post.