Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It's The Details

We put Cosmo to sleep yesterday afternoon. I made my husband call the vet to have him come to our house to do it, and while he scheduled it a little close, I thought it would be fine. He scheduled the vet for 3:30. The bus should have been here at 3:20, giving the kids 10 minutes to hear what was going on and spend some time with Cosmo. Not a lot, but excess time for a horrible event coming on would be worse. So, this should have played out fine.

Instead, what happened was that the bus pulled up from one direction 10 minutes late, my husband was turning into my driveway from the other, and the vet's van was behind the damn bus all at once. My son figured it out once he saw the cars and came tearing down the driveway already in tears. My daughter was a bit slower on the uptake, but once she walked in and we said we were putting Cosmo to sleep, she ran sobbing up the stairs to her room. Basically, my kids ended up in an unintentional ambush. I think I win the crappy mother of the year award for this one.

The vet was kind once they saw what was going on, and gave us an extra 15 minutes alone so the kids could say goodbye. Cosmo perked up, wagged his tail, went from person to person, but kept coming back to me which surprised me a bit. I think, in the end, it's because I'm here. Because I work at home, I spend more time with the pets than any other person in the house. They might prefer one person or another, but I'm their biggest constant. All the tears and high emotions, I think Cosmo kept turning back to me because of that, because I was his normal.

We all said goodbye, and my husband took him out to the vet's van (rather than do it inside in front of the Christmas tree. At least I made one right decision when put on the spot.) I didn't go with him. My husband reported back that Cosmo might have had all that energy for his family, but in the van he didn't even have the energy to stand up or deal with the vet. He just laid down, too tired.

It was time. I know that. Maybe he did too.

My son was inconsolable for a while, but my daughter stepped up to the plate surprisingly well and comforted him. While we were outside, he cried himself to sleep.

One of the things about living in the country that's so different from suburbia is that people bury their own pets here. Growing up, my parents had pets cremated and we spread the ashes. If it was a tiny thing like hamster, we did bury it in a shoebox (and if it was a fish, it was the "So long, Sailor!" toilet send off.) But burying a cat or dog in your own yard? Never happened.

There is something so awful about digging a hole in your yard to bury a friend. My husband and I worked in the setting light with the icy wind howling around us, digging the hole for Cosmo's body just a yard or so away from where we buried Max just last year. But while digging the hole was bad, putting Cosmo's body into it was worse. It was so horrible to fill back in that hole. The sun had well and truly set by the time we finished, and our fingers and faces were frozen.

I just wanted to pull Cosmo back out of that hole. Death is so damn wrong. It just is. I get that it's the natural cycle, and that Cosmo was sick and suffering. He probably felt like he was drowning with every breath since his lungs were so full of fluid. It was probably a relief to finally sleep, finally rest, without gasping, without struggling. Maybe he was even fearful because breathing was so hard. Even though he only lived HALF his expected lifespan, I get it. I'm the one that pushed and said that it was time - no one else did that. I get it.

But I can still feel the baby-soft fur on his head beneath my fingers not even 24 hours ago, and it hurts. It's those little details like the fur on his head, wagging tail, big soulful brown eyes, or the final sprinkling in of the dirt on top of his body with his little bright red sweater still on him and shining through those first clumps that hurt the most. That, and for some reason I always think of everything I ever did wrong, that I should have done better.

My hope is that things will start feeling better. That the family will start doing better. My hope is that this is our low point, because honestly this has been a really rough year. The truth is that we've been on a Death-watch with Cosmo since he had his leg amputated in January because of the cancer. They said he'd only live about three months, but he showed them. We had a lovely, NORMAL and healthy summer. It was only in the autumn that things began to turn swiftly downward. We had more than we thought we would, but even so there was always that looming specter of what was to come. It's come and gone now, so perhaps that will ease... something.

I'm sitting here this morning with my paints. I have work. I have commissions that need to get done. But I realize that I miss him. A lot. I can feel the difference. I can feel that he is gone.

Cosmo would only play fetch if throwing the ball involved going up and down the stairs.
Otherwise, he wasn't interested.

Max and Cosmo, together. They're buried side by side now too.
(As for the sweaters, it's Vermont. It can get pretty darn chilly, even if you have your own fur coat!)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hanging In There

Last week I traveled to Colorado for a wedding, and I have to say that it was an eye-opening experience to be back where I grew up. I managed to finish my snow queen before I left town, however.  This is the evolution of the painting (I always like to see other artists' works in progress like this too):

She's a little zombie-looking without any red tones, don't you think?

This picture bothered me, until I figured out it was her lack of eyelashes that seemed so weird.

See? Much better with eyelashes!

"Snow Queen" 9x12, watercolor & acrylic. Prints available.
I think she turned out pretty well! She's prettier in person with all the iridescent paint (I really can't help myself at this point. If I can't make it sparkly, I'm just not happy I guess!) She has snow-freckles in white iridescent paint on her face that I just really like for some reason. I was also looking at how she looked with all the white background. I may do a second one that plays on the white of the paper and her being "barely there" just for fun!

Back in Colorado was a strange experience. I've only been back a couple times over the past 16 years, and honestly, I hadn't been back in 10 years this time at all. It's funny to see what changes and what stays the same. I have to say that all those shops and restaurants, malls, and whatever else... it was both nice to be able to go out and get something quickly if I needed it, but it felt like everything was crowded too. I don't know how you run a business with so many businesses on top of one another, often offering the same things 100 times over! There were more Targets and Walmarts in a square block than I have ever seen, they must compete against themselves at that point!

Colorado had the better drivers though. It may have been crowded, and wickedly high speed limits (65 MPH on many non-highway roads I traveled, with stoplights! That made me very nervous. How can you properly stop at a stoplight if you're flying around at 65MPH? I did it, but it was a bit strange to me!) Not five minutes back in Vermont, and I was already cussing out the drivers here after being cut off twice and then stuck behind someone going 25 MPH below the posted speed limit with no way to pass. That's Vermont for you, I suppose. It's pretty, but we're lucky cars don't have the ability to launch rockets at one another.

While out on the trip, my father's office was having a fun contest with hand-turkeys! This is like what you probably did in gradeschool where you trace your hand and then make a turkey out of the thumb, and the fingers are the tail feathers. My dad wanted me to do his (I made him make one too) so we picked up Crayola pencils and cheap paper from Target (oh, how I miss Target. None in Vermont *sigh*) and off we went:

Love my dad! His ended up with a hat on it.

And I decided I was going to do a non-standard turkey. It was MY turkey, after all. So here he is in all his colorfully confused glory:

While out there, my father and I got to visit the big Flatirons mall. Oh, a real mall, a REAL mall! I'm not much of a shopper, but when I go into places like that it's like a man lost in a desert for a week discovering a working slurpee machine. I even bought a pair of boots. I never buy shoes. Especially pricier ones. Clearly the mall went to my head.

I enjoyed visiting with family I hadn't seen in a long while, and the wedding was fine. I snapped a few pictures from my lap while we were waiting for it to start:

Mom & Dad
ME! Sorry for the sort of up-the-nose kind of shots, but I was trying to be stealthy about it...
I discovered this champagne that tastes like Fruity Pebbles:

So all in all it was a good trip. I'm really glad to be home though. It's taken a week, but I am finally back to painting again. I'm way behind the curve, but things have been way too stressful, so I'm trying to tell myself it's OK if I don't meet all my business goals this year. I don't see how I possibly can at this point. *sigh* But it's OK. Maybe next year, right?

And really... fruity pebbles champagne, people. How bad can it really be if that exists?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Admitting It's Hard

When you are writing about your passion in life, which also happens to be your career, as I do with art, it's hard to think about posting about the bad things. I have to be honest, however. When people ask if I am OK right now, I have to say "I'm fine" with that twist in my gut... because I'm not.

I cannot be completely open with what's going on, but no one's deathly ill or anything like that. No one has lost their job, no one has died. But at the same time, it's big. It keeps me up at night with tearful worries, watchful and always on the alert. Which is exhausting, it's flat out exhausting! Having this sort of soul-deep worry all the time is... I don't even know how to explain how awful it is. 

And it's totally out of my control. I'm doing what I can to make things better, but it's like throwing pebbles at a mountain and hoping it'll move. It's just not in my power to make any more of a difference than I already do, and instead I get to spend my time fearfully. 

So, I'm sharing. I'm saying things are not OK. That I would break down and have a sob-fest, but that would just further exhaust me, so what's the point?

I cannot say that I have a silver lining, but I can say that apart from that mess things are not so awful. It doesn't cheer me up, because it's not enough, but at least I have some positive things to report.

The first is that I worked and worked, and I finally got my new website up and running! This is a big deal because I had to move providers and work on the layouts, and everything. More, I can finally offer prints and other merchandise (like fine art magnets, cards and more) directly from me - AND it's easy to add new products instead of a major exercise in web design every time I finished a new painting. I just didn't realize how wide an inventory I had until I did this though, wow.

Greeting Cards

Postcard sized magnets

So, YAY! And it's at www.KWilsonStudio.com or www.KyraWilson.net, just like before.  It's nice and clean, and works wonderfully!

I finished the last of my Halloween minis for the year:

White Owl, mini 2x4 inches acrylic on stretched canvas $35

Screech, ultra-mini 2x2 inches acrylic on stretched canvas $25

And then I felt I was done with Autumn and Halloween. I'm now in a distinctly wintry mood. I sometimes put artwork on Facebook in the art auction forums, and this week there is a theme for a snow queen. I had been thinking about doing one anyway, so it was perfect. I decided to pull out my watercolors and I sketched this out on a block:

The block for her is 9x12. I'm putting in little snowflakes and such all over. 

And then I got scared about painting her in. Totally irrationally, but it's been a little while since I did watercolors. So, I decided this morning to do a super fast sketch and painting just to remind myself how I do it. The result is this:

I'm calling her Jess. I think she'll be up in the art auction group tomorrow. It looks better than this in person. I snapped a quick pic with my cellphone, and well... there ya go.
I'm relatively pleased with how she came out. Her eyes and the highlights on her lips and hair are iridescent. Shiny, I can't stop making things shiny. It's still not up to what I'd want it to be, but it was good practice. I think I need to work on pushing some areas farther back, and of course I see all sorts of errors... but I still like her!

So, with that picture behind me, I've started on my snow queen. I'm layering in the shadows right now, working the skin and face first. I hope she comes out nicely! I also have a painting rolling around for my holiday card. I'm still working on the composition, but I'm leaning towards a row of stockings with mice and a cat... and maybe a squirrel. We'll see. 

Lastly, there are mice living in my car. Yes, mice. They're even in my ceiling (it's very creepy to be sitting at a stop light and hear scrabbling from above you.) It's turning into a full scale war right now, and they're winning. I'm waiting to see my car drive off one of these morning with a mouse at the wheel!

So, that's where things are at. Hard. Exhausting. Just moving forward, because progress still needs to happen. I sure hope things get better.