It’s been a while since I have done anything creative. Daily visits from a Crow trio finally motivated me to use some of the many photographs I have taken of them. This mixed media collage features two of the three who were actually sitting atop a chalet bird feeder. They enjoy peanuts and also suet on the chalet.
After a week of trying to get my sweet dog, Bella, back to a comfortable existence, she lost her battle. Still not sure what caused her rapid decline, I knew I had to make the decision to euthanize her. Having done this previously for three other dogs and nine cats did not make it any easier.
Bella lived and loved for fifteen years. She began her life in Florida, where the Humane Society rescued her and her litter mates. My dear cousin, Joan, then director of this facility in Vero Beach, fostered two of the puppies. Once she sent me a photograph of Bella, it was a done deal. Bella bid farewell to her brother Oliver and flew to New Jersey with Joan in a soft carrier under Joan’s seat. A true ambassador for rescue dogs, Bella behaved better than some children and won the hearts of everyone who met her.
Once in NJ, Bella was referred to as the ‘Housewarming Dog’ and the ‘Retirement Dog.’ She joined an aging and surly Ferris and a number of cats in our household. The most memorable story of Bella’s arrival was her attraction to fireflies. She jumped around catching them with remarkable agility. Unfortunately they made her ill, having a rather unpleasant bout of iridescent green diarrhea. She recovered with the help of Pepto Bismol. Ferris was excited to have a playmate and showed a renewed interested in living. They were inseparable.
Bella lived with us in NJ until 2007 when we moved to the Finger Lakes region of NY. She joined Ferris and our then five cats, Venus, Berio, Fiona, Demitasse, and Xena in the move. They all somehow adjusted to a much smaller house and new surroundings. Bella loved to run in the yard after squirrels, chipmunks, and Frisbees once our backyard fence was installed. She and Ferris were walked together in the front yard, on leash, through snow, rain, and occasional sunshine. Eventually Ferris left this planet, and Bella lived the rest of her life as the only dog.
Bella went to classes at the SPCA of Tompkins County. She learned quickly, but was hesitant to play with the larger dogs. We opted for the small dog group where she was more comfortable, but not overly willing to play. I suppose she was used to Ferris, who was much smaller than even a young Bella.
Over the years Bella and her brother, Oliver were reunited when Joan visited NY. Oliver is very well trained and accompanied Joan on many business trips requiring plane rides. We were unsure that they would remember one another since they were about four months old the last time they were together. There was almost immediate acceptance upon the usual on leash sniffing in a neutral area. Bella had no problem sharing space with Oliver.
Bella joined me on many walks to the state park close to our home. We walked more than two miles each day, both becoming more fit. When Bella started to show signs of stress associated with both her hip dysplasia and arthritis during our walks, it was necessary to end them. It felt unnatural to go to the park without her. Unfortunately, a few too many pounds crept back on me, but at some point I should be able to return to the activity with memories of my buddy beside me.
Bella literally spent all her time with me. Particularly fond of food, Bella would plant herself under my feet whenever I was in the kitchen. She was a veteran beggar, always ready for a taste from our plates. She received a low calorie snack upon successfully completing her business outside. Bella NEVER had an accident inside our house…a stark contrast to her former housemate, Ferris. She never experienced being boarded, as we took her everywhere we went. Friends and family generously allowed her in their homes, and although a bit nervous, she would eventually settle down. Car rides were not her favorite, as she sat close to the window, panting all the way. Even mild drugs would not calm her down enough to relax during journeys.
Going to her groomer was also not a welcomed activity. Shaggy Dog Grooming made her beautiful for the thirteen years we have lived in NY. Deej Erb has the patience of a saint, and always went the extra mile to accommodate her moods. A few weeks ago, Bella was the most uncooperative. She still came home looking beautiful- something I am grateful for. Her visits to the vet were also cause for nerves and stress. The last week of her life she spent many hours at Briar Patch Veterinary Hospital receiving IV fluids and medicine. She actually became accustomed to the procedure and had a few good days following her excellent care.
Sadly, once I felt all quality of her life was gone, and her ability to stand, drink, and eat was also quickly absent, I made the decision to humanely euthanize her. The process took place outdoors, in my presence, with one of her vets, a vet tech and my husband. We said a tearful goodbye. I held her head and told her how much I loved her, and thanked her for being such a wonderful companion for fifteen years.
So, though this was not how I was hoping the week would go, Bella had different plans. I will always remember her as a best friend. Always there for me, always giving unconditional love, she will remain in my heart forever. RIP sweet Bella. We shall meet again. Better to have loved and lost you, than to have never loved you at all.
In a previous post I explained the origins of a number of ceramic reliefs I created while a senior in college at Glassboro State College, in NJ. Upon locating slides of said sculptures, I was under the impression that four were made. Somehow boxes of these bulky, heavy, ceramic puzzle pieces followed me to my present address. As my husband attempted to clean up and organize our basement, we decided that it might be time for this collection to go.
Torn with the decision to trash them, or find some way to use them, he painstakingly dragged them up a flight of stairs and into the garage. I temporarily thought of using the individual pieces as a surface for my collages. In a last attempt to do something with them that would honor their earlier conceived purpose, I contacted a friend, who in addition to many artistic endeavors, is a local mosaic artist. In order for her to view them and determine if she could use them, we assembled them outdoors in our yard. It was then, that I realized I had created six, not four, relief sculptures.
The first piece, and only work to be mounted into cement with an angle iron frame, was traded for a silver cast ring. The new owner of the piece was the esteemed Dr. John Ottiano, a professor of Art at what was then Glassboro State College (now Rowan University.) He erected the relief in his backyard garden in his Pitman, NJ home. It overlooked the swimming pool, where I suppose, many of his friends, family and guests were able to see it. I recently received a response to my initial post from one such person who remembered the piece from a time long ago. He spent happy times swimming in the Ottiano pool as a child. A neighbor to the Ottiano family, he also had memories of the many pieces of art at this home. It was nice to hear something about one of my creations. Sadly I have no photograph of the relief at that location, and don’t know if it is still there. Luckily, I did photograph it before then. Take a look, below. I know John and Terry Ottiano (both deceased,) have children, still living, who might have some photographs. I will continue to search for them and have high hopes!
The remaining five pieces are resting comfortably in our backyard. I will probably keep the rectangular relief and continue to hope my friend will utilize some or all of the rest. These are all sized about 4′ x 8′, stoneware, and stained with oxides. One piece was missing, but I found a pretty close match in a piece of slate in our yard. There is also one extra piece, which doesn’t seem to fit anywhere. Considering these are 48 years old, I consider myself lucky to have them at all. It was also a pleasant surprise to find two additional sculptures, since I only had slides of four.
Here’s the last doll and doll related mixed media collage for a while. My experience with A Doll Pattern A Month Circle over the past year has been both a challenge and a motivation to take the time to make art and craft. The next part of this exploration will hopefully include very short stories and/or poems about the dolls. I have no idea how, or if, these stories will relate to each other in my proposed book. This project is for my grandchildren. The oldest has just learned to read, but prefers playing video games. I cannot imagine my childhood without trips to the library and hours of reading. Hoping my stories and images will spark a similar interest for her and my grandson, once he is old enough to read.
In hopes of creating a storybook using my doll collages as illustrations, I felt I needed a Bee doll to connect all the flowers that surround each doll. Since this book is basically only for my grandchildren, who are young, I am working on a sensible explanation of pollination for them to understand the importance of keeping our bees alive. It will be a short description, focusing on plant parts. This doll pattern was created by me, which explains its imperfections!