30 January 2010

Apologies ...

I owe you an apology ...

I have a few followers, a few more loyal readers, and the occasional random visitor. I appreciate all of you, and yet, I don't treat you with the respect that you deserve. I don't blog on a regular basis, and recently, I haven't even been very good at acknowledging comments the way I should.

First of all, I want to let you all know that I really appreciate all of you who read/commented on my post about B'Orange. Your companionship and compassion are comforting. 

Secondly, thanks for hanging in there with me through my hit-and-miss blogging. You'll be happy to know that I've been taking stock and have recommitted myself to my blog. I recently purchased Tara Gentile's (of scoutie girl) ebook "52 Weeks of Blogging Your Passion" -- a book dedicated to helping creative bloggers stay on point with their blogs. I'll be working through it over the upcoming year, so I expect that this blog will grow into a regular source of information about me, my art, my process and my life.

One of the first exercises Tara has us do is create a mission statement for our blog and share it with our readers. I hesitated on this exercise at first, not sure that I wanted to be that formal. Then, I decided that I'd wasted my money on the book if I wasn't going to do even the first exercise! So, after much thought and editing, here's my mission statement for Mixed Grill Favorites:

Mixed Grill Favorites is devoted to sharing my journey as I continuely grow, evolve, and mature as an artist and writer. Sharing my creative processes so that others can gain greater understanding of my art and writing, and of their own creativity, brings me joy. My website is a way to connect with other artists and writers -- and lovers of art and the written word -- so that I can find inspiration and share it with others!

Lastly, I'm working on some other creative projects that will support this blog. I'm working on a comprehensive website to house my blog and showcase my art. That should be ready by late spring. I have another project that I'm very excited about -- but not ready to share details about! It should be ready by mid-March. I'll write more about it as the time for its unveiling approaches. I think you'll be as excited as I am!

Thanks again for hanging in there! You are appreciated!

20 January 2010

I WON! -- Again!

Earlier this evening, I got an email from Lisa at Happy Place Creations telling me that I won the giveaway for the Amish fiction book The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher. This is the second giveaway I've won in recent weeks!


18 January 2010

Book Giveaway!

Happy Place Creations is giving away a copy of the new book, The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher. It has absolutely nothing to do with art, but it does highlight another interest in mine, the Amish religion/lifestyle. I've been fascinated with the Amish since I was a child and we used to pass Amish buggies on the highway on our way to Springfield, MO. Reading a Nancy Drew mystery (The Witch Tree Symbol) at about the same age that took place in Pennsylvania and featured the Amish was just fuel for my fire.

I don't read much fiction these days, but I'll sure be checking this one out. Maybe you will too ...

14 January 2010

Bjorn B’Orange … 01 April, 2003 – 14 January, 2010 … Rest In Peace

B'Orange, taken in September.

A few weeks ago as John and I were driving down The Cajon Pass on our way to visit his parents, I had the most amazing experience. We were riding each with our hand on the other’s leg. I looked to the right, out the car window, and saw the sun shining brilliantly on the snow covered mountains in the distance. In front of the mountains were the deep green foothills. The sky was bright and clear. In that transcendental moment, I realized that while there were many things I wanted, I had everything I needed. An overwhelming feeling of contentment washed over me as I thought, “This is it. This moment is my life” and I was appreciative of all that I had.

What I had in that moment was an adoring (and adorable) husband, people I love who love me, gorgeous scenery, and, although they were not physically with me, what John and I affectionately refer to as The Kitties Three – Frankie, B’Orange, and Nana – the almost celestial beings that help make our happy marriage into a happy family.

Today, at about 10:00 AM, after B’Orange’s short – but brave – fight with full renal failure, The Kitties Three became The Kitties Two. A few hours earlier, we had made the difficult decision to have him put to sleep so that he would suffer no more.

B’Orange was born, appropriately, on April Fool’s Day in (I think) 2003, the same year Frankie came to live with us. Born in John’s closet, he was one of four kittens. None of his littermates made it to adulthood. In fact, I don’t think any of them even made it to adolescence. We think their mother was a carrier for Feline Leukemia, and that she passed it on to all but B’Orange, so he was our miracle-baby.  

He was a kitten like any other kitten – into everything. As he matured, he didn’t grow much. At his heaviest, he weighed about eight pounds. A tiny thing, really, by cat standards. Both Nana (who is two or three years younger than him) and Frankie are much bigger than he was. But what he lacked in body mass, he made up for in personality. All of our cats have had distinct personalities, but B’Orange was something special. His expressive little face and eyes always let you know what he was thinking. He had his own likes and dislikes, his own preferences. He didn’t, for example, like to be pointed at. 

He loved John and I in a way that most cats don’t seem to love their people; he was almost dog-like in his affection. While Frankie and Nana are very independent and do what they like, B’Orange would actually come when called most of the time (we even nicknamed him “B-Dog” because of his canine-like characteristics). Hell, he wasn’t usually very far away from us. When we lived in our apartment, he was content to curl up on the computer monitor while John and I sat at our desks. He would curl up on my chest when we were watching TV or a DVD. He even went through a spell of running to the couch when he heard the whirr of the DVD player. He slept on my chest at night, or more recently, snuggled up between John and I, purring loudly until he fell asleep.

And he had the most distinct purr I’ve ever heard in a cat. Not just loud and rumblely, but when he was especially happy and content, he would almost coo like a pigeon. We called it his bird-purr.

Monday, I saw that B-Dog had trouble jumping from the dining room table to the kitchen island, a jump he usually made. I had previously noticed that he’d lost a little bit of weight, but I had attributed it to the disruption in his family life (John had been gone out of town for several days, and I was out of town myself a couple of days earlier). When he had trouble jumping up on my lap later that evening, I decided to take him to the vet as soon as I could get him there. 

Tuesday, we were at the vet’s office before noon, but it was too late. His blood work indicated that he was in Full Renal Failure. Wednesday, I left him at the vet’s office all day for treatment. When I picked him up Wednesday afternoon, he seemed perkier. He even ate that evening and drank a little bit. He climbed up on my chest as we lie in bed and talked. He purred and purred that special cooing of his and we let our love flow to each other. 

Within the hour, he was significantly weaker. By midnight, he was slipping in and out of consciousness. We laid together, for hours, with me whispering to him and gently stroking his long, soft fur. He would occasionally reach one of his little paws out toward me, as though to stroke me back. B’Orange was supposed to be at the vet’s office at 9:00 this morning for a second day of treatment. Instead, he was put to sleep.

I was there with him, stroking him and talking to him, as the doctor gave him the injection. He was so weak that he was gone in a flash. I stayed with him for several minutes and then went home. Even with The Kitties Two here, the house seems empty. If B’Orange were here, he’d be climbing over the laptop, stepping on the keys, fooffing me with his shaggy tail at every opportunity. We’d be getting ready to paint and he’d be in the middle of that, too. He’s had paint on his feet more than once!

Frankie is sitting at my feet, looking at me with curiosity and Nana is asleep on the back of the couch. One of my babies is gone, and my husband is 1,100 miles away on this lonely night. And yet, when I say to myself, “This is it. This moment is my life” I still feel contentment underneath all of the sorrow. 

My chest physically hurts from the pain of losing this dear kitty-soul too soon, but I feel privileged to have had him in my life at all. My own life has been so enriched by the joy that he brought me, every single day. He’ll never climb up on my shoulder again, like a parrot might, or bite his brother on the butt, but he leaves me so many happy memories and much love in my heavy heart. 

Our beloved B-Dog, taken Tuesday night.

B'Orange and Frankie, taken Wednesday evening.

06 January 2010

One Thing ...

I got these questions off of Carmen Torbus' website; she got them from a friend. They were very thought-provoking and fun to answer. Why don't you take a stab at them, too?

1. If you were only allowed to have 1 Intention for 2010, what would it be & why? Like Carmen, who answered these questions before me, I have so many dreams and aspirations for the coming year, that this question is a really difficult one for me.

My one intention, I suppose, is my desire to emerge out of the shadows of my life and to live fully and openly. I don’t have a big desire for change, but I do have a desire to be more present in my own life and with those around me. A good friend recently sent me a quote from Braveheart: “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” I don’t want that to be my fate, although I’m afraid it has been for far too long. I’ve lived on the sidelines as my life just passed me by. NO MORE! I ran across a great sentiment on someone else’s blog: “The dance of life requires practice daily.” I intend to dance more often …

2. If you were only allowed to have 1 Goal for 2010, what would it be & how can you achieve it? I have lots of goals for 2010, but almost all of them relate to one thing in some way: my creativity. I am truly happiest when I’m painting or writing, so I intend to do both of those more often. I’m not sure how good I am at either one, but both activities bring me joy. Martha Graham says, “Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.” So, if I could only have one goal for 2010, it would be to practice my arts.

3. If you had to do 1 New Thing in 2010, what would it be? Will you commit to it now? I’m intrigued by the way the question is worded … “If you had to do 1 New Thing …” I’m coming from the place of I get to do new things, every year! But, if I had to limit it to 1 New Thing, I think I’d start a podcast. I’ve done radio in the past and really enjoyed it. I enjoy talking about art and creativity. I enjoy learning new things and meeting new people, so it seems like a natural next step for me. I still have lots of planning to do before I begin, but I’m slowly working on that. So, yes, I will commit to this now – By the end of 2010, I’ll be doing a regular podcast.

4. If you had to get rid of 1 Thing in 2010, what would it be & why? This one is easy; fear is a major source of dissatisfaction for me, and it’s all internal. Some of it is natural, but some of it borders on being ridiculous to me. Our house was broken into a few months ago, and I occasionally feel a bit of mild anxiety about coming home after I’ve been gone for awhile. That, I think, is natural. But I’m also afraid of my creativity, and that’s less understandable. Aside from my husband, my creativity is what I love most in my life, and yet, sometimes I’m afraid to get started. I’m afraid to try new things, to experiment, to wonder what will happen if I do this, or that. I’m afraid of failure, and I’m afraid of successes that can’t be repeated. Fear is the thing I’d most like to get rid of, because it keeps me from sitting down and doing the work that I believe in so strongly.

5. What have you achieved in 2009? List it all! I’m looking forward to an absolutely incredible year, but 2009 was not all it could have been. My husband and I moved into a new house, in a new town. That one event has taken so much of my emotional energy this year. I’ve been hospitalized twice, for unrelated illnesses. That, too, has taken a great deal of my enthusiasm. On the bright side, though, I took online classes from Julie Prichard and Carmen Torbus, and learned a great deal. I’ve painted more and written more than I have for the past few years. I’ve made some great connections with some truly lovely people and reconnected with some old friends from high school. I’ve set up a studio in our new home, so that creativity is more convenient for me.

Considering at things less tangible (and therefore, easier to overlook), I have grown and matured in 2009. I have learned the value of appreciation and gratitude in my life. I have learned that I like structure, and am working to ease myself in that direction. I have recognized some of my dreams and have begin putting plans in place to realize those dreams.

All-in-all, 2009 may not have been my finest hour, but I’m still excited about 2010!

Thanks to Carmen for posting this on her website. I really enjoyed answering these questions for myself.