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Our Sweet Toby

I don't write in my blog as often as I should - there always seems to be something with a higher priority. I regret that, as I don't see the sweet face of my kitty, Toby, on these pages. Toby came to us two years ago, in December, 2014. We had lost our two cats that year - Duke in January and Sydney in September - and it was too quiet in the house. However, I had said to Dan, "no more cats!" and I meant it. Until...

The Fateful Photo From Facebook Post

I was on the Facebook Group for Certified Zentangle Teachers and saw a post about this guy, needing a home. He was a 6 year old Himalayan cat, whose owner had died and he lived 3+ hours away. Ridiculous to even contemplate a scruff-muffin, older, uber-hairy boy-who-is-also-a-cat. Maybe a girl dog, but not a cat. hard as I tried, I could not get him off my mind. So one week later, we were meeting his kind caretaker in the parking lot of Friendly's in Lee, MA, half-way in between our respective homes, to take Toby home. Poor kitty. He was scared to death and frankly, so were we. We had never even met this cat and here we were taking responsibility for his care and well-being.

From the post title, you already know what a good move it was for all. Toby slowly accustomed himself to us and Dan and I, to him. They had said he was "a love" and that was so accurate. He purred if you even looked his way and within three months, we were all in love. Here is a more recent photo of Toby helping me out in my studio. The high stool was a favorite spot and he would curl up and go to sleep, keeping me company as I worked.

Studio Visit (click to enlarge)

Look at that handsome face! Who wouldn't love this sweet, gentle boy. He nuzzled his way into my heart and I adored him.

If you noted the past tense, you'll know that this does not end on a happy note. Last weekend, I noticed that Toby had chunked up around his abdomen and it seemed to become more pronounced daily. On Tuesday, we were off to the Vet. He recommended an ultra-sound which we scheduled for yesterday, New Year's Eve. We left our boy at the Vet in the morning and he called later to tell us that the fluid around Toby's abdomen was a result of cancer in some part of his body and that it had spread to his liver, which looked "like swiss cheese." There was no pill that could fix this and he didn't have long. 

Too fluffy to fit or ship! (click to enlarge)

This is the nightmare of pet owners. Not only are you losing a member of your family but you need to make a decision about euthanizing that family member. Our cat, Sydney, also had cancer and the progression of it was not something we wanted to put Toby through. Our last bit of time with him was yesterday afternoon at the Vet's office and he was his usual loving self. It was devastating but Toby only felt our loving arms around him at the end. 

Euthanasia has been called the "last act of love" and I believe it to be true. It takes courage to make the choice and see it through. Dan and I have had to do so three times in the last three years - way too much. Toby was with us for just two years; not long enough. Never the less, we don't regret adopting him. For all the pain we feel at his loss, the affection and joy this little guy brought us puts us well on the plus side of the equation. 

An Afternoon Nap (click to enlarge)

This long post is an homage to my sweet boy. It's not important that anyone else reads it - just that I wrote it. If you do read it, please hug your fur babies for me and give them some extra love today.

There is heartbreak at the end of every animal, but they are so worth it.


Happy New Year

Rilke_mhhoopesThis photo was taken on the grounds of one of my favorite places... The Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel in Santa Barbara, CA. The hotel is right on the coast and you can enjoy a wonderful meal, surrounded by flowers and hummingbirds, on their terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Dan and I were there in August, visiting my sister and brother-in-law in beautiful Montecito, CA. We made a point of having breakfast at the Four Seasons on our last day in town, when I snapped this photo. The image seemed fitting company for the quote, another favorite of mine. 

Rilke perfectly grasps the excitement and mystery of considering what the future might bring. Whatever that is, it is likely to be full of Life (with a capital L)... love and loss, contentment and fear, loneliness and happy times.

We can work through the lows; by learning to temper pain and disappointments with acceptance and understanding, balance them with love, and seek the beauty in our messy world. Like most, I can't always pull this off, but this new year my intention is to awaken each day with this goal...

Today, I will choose love rather than fear.

I wish the same for you.

Rainy Day Remedy

Oh, my goodness.  It is raining today.  Again.  I can deal with that but sheesh, it's been raining daily for weeks.  I was starting to feel mossy and thought, what cheers me?  How about a cup of spicy chai tea, in my favorite mug. 

So here's to rainy days, a pretty cup full of hot tea and some creative time in my studio.


What cheers you?

She Lives!

I'm sorry to have been away for so long, with no communication.  I wasn't feeling too well in November and December and after Thanksgiving, found I needed some minor surgery, to take place at some point to be determined, in January.  Needless to say, it made planning for the New Year difficult at best, so no classes or projects could be planned. 1:6:12hosp  That said, every order was sent out on time (actually super-fast!), as we always do : )

The surgery was on January 6, I'm doing fine and am looking forward to getting back up-to-speed—almost there—and back on schedule with Zentangle classes, card kits and creativity!  Here's an extremely attractive photo Dan took of me before surgery.  I wanted to Zentangle on my pretty blue hat, but they wouldn't let me (hospitals are so picky).  Actually I was at Bellevue and they were great, as is my super-surgeon, Dr. Debbie Youngelman.

Hurricane Irene's Aftermath

My heart is aching for those who have lost so much and continue to struggle with flooding from Irene.  It's difficult to understand how communities in Upstate New York, Vermont and western Massachusetts, etc., can be so affected by a hurricane.  But roads, bridges, houses and lives were washed away. 

We get wonderful veggies and fruit all summer from our CSA (Community Shared Agriculture), the Denison Farm in Schaghticoke, NY.  The Denison family farm is now largely under water as are many others in the east and northeast. I'm happy we support this community resource—farmers are true heroes!  Here's a video from Justine at the Denison Farm.

Watch the video here

My prayers go out to everyone who is struggling now, including our dear friend Peggy in the flooded village of Waterford, NY.  Sending everyone blessings, good thoughts and sunshine.

He looks so... innocent

He looks innocent, doesn't he?  


  Dukie8_11_400This is Duke, named after one of Dan's idols, Duke Ellington.  But I don't know why—our Duke isn't creative, although he is entertaining. At times. And only when he feels like it.  Most of the time he's making demands or fighting with his sister, Sydney, over territory, food, attention; you name it. Hence my name for him: 

The Prince of Darkness.

He is rather handsome though, sleeping in the dappled sunshine.  Sleeping being the key word and thus, unable to make demands or fight. 

Of course The Prince claimed the unmade bed after his breakfast was served and got comfy on the best (custom made!) pillows.  Perhaps I should tuck another pillow behind him.  Turn the fan on?  Or hire a maiden to serve tiny slices of fresh tuna (sushi grade, of course) and sips of Perrier when he awakens.  

Yes, I think The Prince would approve.

Collage Couture: Techniques for Creating Fashionable Art


The girly art pieces in this book looked like they would be so much fun to make.  So I ordered it from Amazon.

I do that. Order art instruction books. But then I don't seem to find the time to experiment with said  instruction in order to actually make the art.  Some day, right?  And, my friend Lauri gets to borrow the books, which is a sweet deal for her.

Actually, I ordered three books L ; )

Happy Father's Day

William Heyward Hoopes

My dad was a fine and an honorable man and a terrific father.  He is greatly missed.  My sisters and I love this photo of him, taken by a friend while sailing; it conveys his very essence.  Love you Dad. 

"For me, my craft is sailing on

Through mists today, clear seas anon.

Whate'er the final harbor be,

T'is good to sail upon the sea!"

John Kendrick Bangs