Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Humane Society Story

The Greenville Humane Society has asked me to submit a success story to use to promote adopting a dog. They've love the basics of it so much they are also sending a professional photographer over... See what you think of what I wrote and I'll let you know how the session goes. If nothing else, I'll learn a great deal about photographing Shadow!

“What do you want to foster?” Sue, the Foster Program Manager, asked as she flipped through my application form. It was Saturday afternoon. She was likely on her way home and probably put in more hours than she was being paid for, but she took the moment to come see me in the lobby at the Greenville Humane Society.
“A dog,” I answered, “I don’t have the time to give to a puppy.”
“What about a large, rambunctious dog? I’m talking about a 67 pound lab.”
“We had an 80 pound Shepherd once. I think that will be okay.”
“Where will he stay when you are not at home?”
“We have a back porch that should be safe and if he’s found trustworthy, he could have reign of the house.”
Sue laughed out loud. She paused and looked hard at me. “Let’s go meet him and see what you think. There’s no pressure here.”

I giggled to myself. I had not thought I could receive a dog the first day. This was moving rather fast. We had lost our shepherd 3 months earlier and were planning an extended trip later in the year. Adoption at this time was not in our plans, but we really missed having a dog in the house. Fostering seemed like a good compromise.

Sue opened the door to the isolation room for those with kennel cough. This beautiful black Labrador Retriever leapt as high as the kennel would let him. My heart leapt in return. I asked a few questions and then finally said, “I think we can do this.” Sue looked at me again. “Okay, but in a couple of days if you want to bring him back, that’s okay. Don’t suffer this week.” Armed with a crate, harness, collars, food, medicine and chew bone, we headed out to my car and started home. I called my husband, “Honey, I’m bringing home a 67 pound lab!”

Quickly, we began to learn a great deal about him. He was house trained. He knew a number of commands like "sit", "lie down", "no", and "come". He knew what to do on a leash after he was reminded he was expected to behave on one. He took his medicine gently from hand even though it was wrapped in deli meat. He was playful, energetic AND knew how to play gently. He could not be trusted in the kitchen if no one is in there. We lost two hamburgers Saturday night. He was a well pampered dog! The worst thing that had ever happened to him was the crate. He expects to sleep on the bed with us and to sit on the couch with us. He thinks it's completely natural for him to be everywhere doing everything you are doing. He will leave me in the backyard for A/C. He expected human food. He recognized a box of milkbones.

It was a fun first day learning all we could about each other, but then that evening we put in a movie and he laid down. There was no demanding that we pay attention to him. I watched him sleep, tallying the things I had learned about him, and could not fathom how someone could invest so much time and energy in training and let this lab go. I also mused that Sue would not recognize him.

Sunday the fun started all over again. He followed me everywhere. I told my husband, “If he was mine, his name would be Shadow.” All that was left on my list for that day was to practice playing my harp. I wondered how this was going to work. He had walked by the instrument a number of times, acknowledging it, but never touching it. My husband sat on the back porch and called the dog to him. They stayed out there while I played a number of pieces I had used in harp therapy. They both fell asleep. Even when I had finished it was a full 20 minutes until the lab woke up. There’s not a higher complement as far as I’m concerned.

Monday I went to work with pictures and a top 10 list of things to love about this dog. My goal was to find new parents that would head over with me on Friday to adopt him as I turned him back in. I emailed everyone I knew with lake houses touting him as an “instant dog - just add water”.

I ran home at lunch to check on him. I peeked through the window and found the back porch completely in tact with the dog sleeping on his back in the open crate. I knew right then this dog would eventually be trustworthy with free reign in the house. That fact is a deal maker or breaker with me.

Monday night, my husband and I talked and talked. With what we knew about him, and his friendly spirit, this dog would not remain on the adoption floor long. There was really little that he would need to be trained on. Then, we admitted how well he fit with us and our life and decided to accept the gift we had been given in him. I started at that moment calling him Shadow.

We became the new parents that would head over as I turned him in that Friday. The learning did not stop there. What has thrilled us immensely is that he loves children and must have been raised around them. Our neighbor has a 2 year old son. Shadow ignores all the neighbor's dogs, but will stop everything to see the boy. They run up and down the fence together. The boy one day reached his hand through the fence and had his hand all over Shadow's mouth before anyone could do anything. Shadow just stayed still. Then there was the 2 year old girl we met on one of our nightly walks. Talking with the grandparents, the girl and Shadow got bored. He laid down in the road and she proceeded to place Mardi Gras beads around his neck. We don’t have children and don’t feel we could have gained this by raising a puppy on our own.

I learn something new everyday about and from Shadow. I can only look back on that fateful Saturday with a grateful heart. What joy a dog can bring to the house!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Conestee Nature Park

Day two of wearing out the Shadow dog consisted of a two hour hike at Conestee Nature Park. We had not been there before, but it is convenient to home and we like adventures. This was once a lake and it slowly has been filled with dirt/trash/etc and a restoration project began years ago. It's now marshland, which is unusual to see in the upstate of SC.

The Reedy River still runs through here

and a number of creeks could be found.

And of course with a great deal of water, there comes lots of birds and flowers. We didn't see any of the birds promised at the entrance - nor the copperhead snakes thank God - but the flowers were out to meet us. Unlike other bloggers, I have no idea what these are, but I was playing with my digital macro and thought I would share - If you have names for them go for it and share!

Wait I do know this one - Rose of Sharon!
Shadow did have a good time and favored us with laying around quietly for the rest of the afternoon! Enough so that I did get some weaving done this weekend and I'll share later.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The $4 Dog Bed

One of the things with having a 2 year old lab is coming home from work and wondering how I'm going to get all that pent up energy out of him. I do my best - we play tug with a toy and we take a nice hour long walk. I make sure that he notices his chew bone for a good 15 minutes. Have I mentioned he's holding at 80 pounds now? We're getting there, but there's just no substitute for another dog. We took Shadow to PetSmart the other night and a Yorkie started to pay him attention. He quickly laid down, so she would not be so intimidated and could play with him. That's how bad it is being the only dog in the family. (As a side note, we met up with a Mastiff another night and she laid down for Shadow so that he would not be so intimidated and play with her!)

I was able to setup a playdate for Shadow this morning with two weimaraners, Otto and Boris. We met at industrial park that presently only has the infrastructure and the road is in a nice 1/2 mile long circle. We made the loop about 5-6 times ( I lost count).

Boris and Shadow
Otto and Shadow
That lasted about an hour and this is what Shadow did when we got home. Hurrah! Mark one on the scoreboard for the humans!
But he wasn't asleep - he was thinking about how hard the floor is! Wouldn't it be great to have a decent dog bed like the humans have?
So I said "Shadow - let's work on your dog bed!" He perked up!
I went to Goodwill and picked up a $4 queen comforter and planned to "stuff it" with an old, torn folded twin memory foam mattress topper. At one bright moment in our lives, we decided at one point to put in the dryer. Many divots and holes resulted. I made a prototype of the dog bed - folded the comforter into a quarter and sandwiched in the foam. Shadow gave his approval. The work begins!
First, you can see how this is going together. The comforter folded in half and then quarters, with the foam in the middle pocket.
I left the foam on the floor and Shadow took his place while I worked.
Then I sewed velcro that I owned to the two ends that would meet, so the foam could be taken out for washing the comforter. Putting the second velcro strip broke two needles... Learned to move all the comforter stuffing out of the way!

After that I sewed the long sides together inside out to make a tube - and then turned it right side out.
From there I sewed the velcro ends to their mating halves.
My intention was to sew then the two sides when it is folded in quarters, but with breaking two needles and I couldn't move the stuffing around on these edges. I stopped. I may go get snaps or grommets. Don't know, but for now it's like a sandwich wrap and we'll see how it holds up that way. Shadow took right to it and continued his nap!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In the Tapestrymaker's Mode

American Craft Magazine has a feature "from the stacks". This month's was "In the Tapestrymaker's Mode" on James Bassler from Aug/Sept 1982 issue. The feature states: "Among the processes Bassler then employed to create his tapestries were strip weaving, ikat and batik. Since the 1980s, Bassler’s tapestries have become increasingly complex, incorporating techniques of the Navajo and ancient Andean cultures—building his reputation for focusing on the past.

The recipient of many honors, Bassler was elected a Fellow of the American Craft Council in 1998 and interviewed for Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art in 2003. Widely exhibited, his work is in numerous museum collections as well as in the Cotsen American Masters Textile Collection.
Today Bassler is represented by the Jane Sauer Gallery in Santa Fe and the Gail Martin Gallery in New York City. Dismissing any notion that he lives entirely in the past, Bassler, using shopping bags from Trader Joe’s, spun and wove a paper bag, complete with handles, that the Martin Gallery recently displayed at the International Tribal and Textile Arts Show in New York. The artist can be seen on film in one of two new episodes of the PBS series Craft in America, scheduled to air on October 7. Jane Sauer says 'Jim’s work has the integrity and depth that few ever obtain and he has sustained this level of making for over 40 years. Dedicated to the past and the future, Jim is truly a national treasure.' "

The entire 1982 article may be downloaded at:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pear Shaped

With all the excitement of Shadow, I don't always keep up with things - so true to form I had forgotten my camera the second week of the mosaic class with Laura K Aiken. So this entry will be for the last two weeks. I started this post here if you want to see where it started. My hope was to learn the technique of mosaic and see if I could use it in my tapestry weaving. I learned a great deal and I'm excited about the mosaic itself. I just love learning new things and creating. Is there a better way to spend a Saturday AM? Okay maybe at the lake with a brand new dog, but that's another story.

The second week of class I worked on the table cloth below the pear. Here were just two values of the teal that allowed for the shadow of the pear. I did add in a number of small decorative bits (forgive me Laura for not remembering their name!) They were mostly circular where the mosaic glass was rectangular. Working to integrate those two shapes took all day! One of the things I love about classes is getting a true appreciation of how much it takes to create something like this. Whatever a mosaic artist charges - it's worth every penny!
The third class involved the background. The color is purple and the color value did not have quite enough to cover the space, so I blended it with a slightly darker value. It was fun just to make a pile and start gluing them in place. It's almost like a jigsaw puzzle where I look for the right piece - except I get to decide what the right piece is!
The glass tiles are quite varied. The thicknesses depend on the tile and how I cut it - which was completely random! Then the choice of which side of the tile to use can change is it is a solid colored, striped, flat, etc. While there is a plan, the tiles really "make as many decisions" as I do.
And here is the finished piece. I was able to finish the background on the third day. The studio has a couple of skylights and the sun was straight down on the piece in the last half hour. I loved how the glass gleamed. The next step is to frame it!
From here my thoughts are to recreate this with paper, but shift the colors - i.e. teal pear, purple tablecloth and red background. Then also to recreate in tapestry again shifting the colors. I had started this thinking that the mosaic would be my cartoon, but I've now decided to just create little blocks within an area and let the yarn dictate shapes and color blends. We'll see the piece is small enough there can be lots of experiments. I'm really curious to see how this will change from glass, shiny and 3D to yarn, soft and 2D. I'm sure there will some things lost and others found!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Woven Visions - Tapestry Weaver's South

My morning has begun with finding the above on Laura K Aiken's blog. This is inivitation cover for the Tapestry Weavers South exhibition at the Anderson Arts Center that begins later this month. I plan to exhibit Intersecting Sine Waves and Comet in the Night Sky there. I am thrilled to see that Intersecting Sine Waves made the invitation cover! Such a great way to start the day! Thanks for posting that Laura!

For those in the area:

Anderson Arts Center
Opening Reception:Friday, August 28, 2009 • 7:00pm
Lunch & Learn Thursday, August 27, 2009 • 12:00 noon • $7
Join the Tapestry Weaver Exhibitors in a discussion about their artwork, their process and their passion.
Lunch is included in the $7. Call 222.2787 to register!

A Special Thanks to Tapestry Weavers South Sponsors:
John C. Campbell Folk School
American Tapestry Alliance
Tapestry Weavers South Exhibitors: Liliana Crespi • Marti Fleischer

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Me and My Shadow

Here is your chance to say "I told you so". It only took 48 hours and we decided to adopt the 2 year old black laborador from the humane society. It really didn't come down to worrying about his being adopted. It didn't come down to fear for him or his life. It came down to the fact that he simply fit our family without much training. He already knew the language and already had the training. Now we have had to remind him he is expected to do what he has learned, but there is little to teach him - except that he is loved.
He never responded to Samson - the name the Human Society gave him. So we've renamed him Shadow, since he follows one around everywhere. He just has to be in the middle of everything.
Now he's not perfect. He tried to steal a pork chop directly off my plate last Sunday, but what is good about him is over the top excellent. What has thrilled us immensely is that he loves children and has obviously been raised around them. Our neighbor has a 2 year old son. Shadow ignores all the neighbor's dogs, but will stop everything to see the boy. They run up and down the fence together. The boy one day reached his hand through the fence and had his hand all over Shadow's mouth before anyone could do anything. Shadow just stayed still. Then there was the 2 year old girl we met on one of our nightly walks. Talking with the grandparents, the girl and Shadow got bored. He laid down in the road and she proceeded to place Mardi Gras beads around his neck. Then there are the kids at PetSmart and Brusters that want to come see him.
A word to the wise - and to those who have a weakness for ice cream - Bruster's gives out Doggie Sundaes - It's a scoop of vanilla with a milkbone!
One last bit - We tried with a choker collar and he's too tough for that. Neither of us was enjoying th constant hacking. At PetSmart, we bought the Gentle Leader Easy Walk Harness and saw an immediate difference! Now we enjoy strolling down the Avenue - and I'd better get off here and start that!