5 July 2017

New Quilt: I Call It A “Palace Quilt”

Palace Quilt

Maria asked me into her Studio to see her new quilt yesterday, these quilts are shrouded in secrecy, only revealed to me when they are near or at completion. I like it that way, Maria is much more private about her art than I am about my writing.

Her artistic process is very interior, it comes from the inside, my work comes from the outside. She feels it in her heart, not in her head.

I thought this new quilt is very beautiful, dignified, evocative, even regal. I call it the "Palace Quilt," because I could see it hanging inside of a palace. It is going on sale this week, it will cost $450 worth shipping.

Lots of people have urged Maria to raise the price for her quilts, but she doesn't want to, I respect her for that. She doesn't want them to be unavailable to ordinary people, as so much art is now.

I think the word "dignity" keeps coming back to me.

I have no idea how this quilt came about or what it means, I think that's a personal or individual thing, you see in it what you need to see.

You can learn more about it on her blog.

Posted in General

Gus’s Hangouts. “Do Not Follow A Rat Into The Desert.”

Gus's Hangouts

"Why complain if you are looking to lift your spirit's longing, and have followed a rat into the desert." – Hafiz

"Do not speak poorly of your life and your work. They might be listening." – Jon Katz

I've been capturing Gus's hangouts, and I see he is very fond of our back porch. The slate tiles are cool – he doesn't love the strong sun – and when he is tired or after racing around with Fate, which is happening more frequently, he goes up to the back porch. He is only nine weeks old and can't keep up with a nuclear-charged border collie like Fate.

I love photographing his hangouts, this is a small dog thing also, I think, the border collies just sit by the door or the pasture fence, waiting to go to work.

Posted in General

When Dogs Choose, A Powerful Moment, A Vision

When Dogs Choose

It's a big moment in the life of people and dogs when dogs choose the human they will keep track of and follow around.

Red chose me, Fate and now Gus have chosen Maria. It isn't that they don't love me, or that I am not close to them, it's just a chemical thing, a beautiful thing, and the past few days I've seen that Gus has chosen Maria and I told him he could not really have made a better choice.

Gus and I are tight, just as Fate and I are very close. They are both family dogs, and I am family.

But dogs need a single human to attach to and focus on, that person becomes their guide and center and grounding point. It is in the nature of dogs to do that, they need to do that, and everywhere Maria goes, Gus wants to be.

Maria is viscerally loving and open, and dogs are powerfully drawn to that. Red and I are different, it is simple, really, a kind of mystical connection. Karen Thompson was right, we just belong together.

I loved the sight of the two of them, Maria and Gus,  tending to the Three Sisters Garden yesterday, it looked so natural to me, so right. When I came out with the camera, Gus turned to me, and then ran to,  asking to be picked up for a smooch. Then I put him down, and he ran right back to Maria to keep an eye on her while she weeded.

This is a milestone moment for a dog, and for a family. The dog has left behind the mother, and chosen a new emotional focal point for life. Gus will keep an eye on Maria from now on, he will spend much of the day in her Studio, he will sleep next to her in bed, once he graduates from his crate, she will be the primary impetus for his training, and the person who most influences it.

I am very happy to see this, it is a small think, but a landmark thing, and Maria has two wonderful dogs keeping an eye on her, they serve different functions and in different ways. Gus will not be hiking with Maria through the snow in the deep woods, Fate is a great outdoor dog, she is happy to sit out in a blizzard next to Maria's Studio window, Gus will be dozing inside on a soft bed.

I feel a pang when the dog makes a choice, it is a separation in a small way, but it is followed by much joy and contentment. This is what dogs do, this is what makes them so unique in the lives of people, and I will also admit, if I am being honest, that I know it is quite likely that both Fed and surely Gus will outlive me and it will make me very happy to think of these two loving and already devoted creatures walking by her side.

Call it a vision, I have no other name for it, but when I look down the road and into the future, I see Maria outside planting in her garden, Fate and Gus sitting on either side, walking with her into the next chapter of life.

Posted in General

Red, Sick Again

Sick Again

I should tell you that Red is seriously sick again, and he has been especially ill these last few days, plagued by diarrhea, squatting, some vomiting, total loss of appetite and many accidents.

Our regular vet was closed over the holidays, so we took him the Hoof N' Paw Service on the other side of town. We liked Jack Kittell very much, he is going to be our large animal vet for sure.

Red had his worst night last night, and so did we, an endless cycle of rushing him outside, of accidents, explosive accidents, clean-ups, an exhausting night. Fate is recovering from  her stomach troubles, she is eating  and digesting well. She seems herself.

Red is in a bad way, he is no longer eating,  we took him back to Dr. Kittel this morning and he took some blood. The blood work was all good, all negative, Red's temperature is  normal. He got some shots and new drugs and Dr. Kittel is optimistic this may turn the tide.

We will be washing rugs and towels for a good long time. I'm making him a concoction of white rice, hamburger and medication and hopefully he will come around. We hit the $500 mark this morning. I like Hoof N' Paw, it is a real country practice, with a seasoned country doctor.

We are not abandoning our regular vet, but it makes sense for Dr. Kittel to continue the treatment that he began. Gus is  unaffected by the illnesses of Fate and Red. It was a wild night from Hell, the kind many dog lovers know all too well. More later.

Posted in General

The Challenge Of Gus: Dog Or Furbaby?

The Challenge Of The Small Dog: Confronting The Dominatrix

For me, one of the challenges of the small dog is somewhat obvious, yet easier to mess up. The challenge is to make sure to treat the small dog like a dog, and not like a baby rabbit, furbaby or perpetual infant substitute.

In some ways, this is already a challenge for me, I find myself talking silly to Gus, sometimes even baby talk – for me, this is a serious lapse for me in dog training and relationships. Gus is an endearing dog, okay cute, but the reason he is doing so well, I think, is that Maria and I are both treating him like a dog.

He is being trained, he is not allowed to come into our laps or climb up onto sofas and chairs, he sleeps in a crate, not in our bed (and is very happy there) and when he gets excited and races around the house, he goes out into the back yard kennel. He never wins when he whines or complains, the same promise I made to my daughter.

Small dogs are endearing, but they dogs, they need to be trained and held accountable just like any other dogs. People who treat them like adored children can easily give them a bad name, when the truth is, Gus is a lot of dog, we do not wish or intend to turn him into a pocket or pet dog, or something worshipped for his Cuteness

When we went on a mile hike yesterday, Gus got tired, I suggested my picking him up and carrying him for part of the way. No, said Maria, let him walk with the other dogs. This was good advice. Gus does not need to be treated as a helpless and cuddly thing, he needs to be treated like a dog, and  I am happy to be reminded of that.

He is already working as a therapy dog, and this sense of work and connection will help him mature and develop as a real dog, not a miniature.

Gus and Fate are discovering the pirate in one another, they are plotting mayhem regular. They have to do it outside.

When you have something cute, small and furry, there is the inevitable temptation to treat it like a stuffed animal or doll or newborn child.  But Gus is a dog, he deserves to be trained and treated like a dog. And Gus will need to know how to behave like a dog if is going to mix it up with Fate, who is a dominatrix when it comes to other animals.

Posted in General