Friday, November 30, 2012

Leo 1996-2012

Our cat, Leo, died earlier this week. Our lightfooted and athletic kitty started showing her age gradually, then all of the sudden with a round-the-clock sleep schedule, a stiff walk, and inability to jump on our laps without help. The last week she had to be helped to her food bowl, then her cat box, and then the vet came and put her to sleep. I don't like euphemisms, but I like the word "euthanize" even less. Andrew dug a deep hole in the garden, and we put her there.

It was one of the saddest days for my me and my husband. We received Leo from a friend when we were first living together in 1997. Leo was just a year old, mostly a kitten. She loved to be snuggled, and she was so hard to put down I would wrap her in a big scarf that I then tied to my upper body, and carry her around like a baby. That's weird, I know. Leo would lay there until she fell asleep, and then I would hang her on a door knob and she would continue to sleep there. She would come when called, very un-catlike in that way. When my husband and I would walk down to our local business district for dinner or errands, she would stalk us for four blocks until we got to a busy intersection, and she would wait there until we walked back. Sometimes that would be an hour or more.

Leo also followed me to the studio almost every day until the past couple of years when she lost interest in being outside all the time. I never worried about her knocking stuff over, she was so sensitive to her surroundings. She would post up on shelves, or next to glaze buckets, or on the floor next to her food dish, willing me with her penetrating stare to run home and get her more food. I always did because Leo was very hard to say "no" to. There was one time where she made a miscalculation and and didn't quite make it up to the next shelf she was jumping for. She swung, monkey-like, claws dug into the shelf she was trying to get up to, and knocked over a huge vase I had just worked on for 4 hours, shattering it. I grabbed her, and wanted to shake her, but how can you really punish a cat? I put her outside and slammed the door. She gave me about 15 minutes to recover and then started meowing to let her back in. Of course, I did.

I've been coping with overwhelming sadness all week. There is something particularly poignant and painful about losing a pet. You are supposed to look out for them, to take care of them, but there is a communication gap. You don't know what they really need or what they are thinking, you can only guess. Leo added so much to our lives, and now, there's just this absence where she once was. The last week she was alive was so hard, because I knew we were about to lose her, but she was already gone in so many ways. She could only lay there, and there was not a thing I could do to help her, except to let her go.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

holiday open studio

The kiln is firing away as I get ready for my annual Holiday Open Studio. I will have all of the usual goods: lotus bowls, flower bowls, poppy plates, vases, creamer and sugars, and lots of cake stands. So many cake stands. Also one-of-a-kinds, samples and experiments, and a few marked down seconds. If you are in the Bay Area, you can visit me, and then visit some of my colleagues with this self-guided open studio map. I hope to see you.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

choosing wellness

I'm sick right now. I started getting sick last week when I took the week off to go to Yosemite, and a couple of days into my trip, my throat started tingling. That is always my first warning sign, my illnesses always start in the throat. By the time I got home a few days later, I was in full-blown sickness mode. Sickness mode for me means I feel like crap, but I pretty much do what I do everyday without my normal infusions of coffee and alcohol. This is a completely different mode from my husband, who when he gets sick, collapses on the bed and doesn't get up until he feels better. He also likes to moan that he is dying, and makes me wait on him. He won't even get out of bed for a glass of water, I have to bring it to him.  The result of these two different modes is that I tend to have lingering coughs that can go on for days or weeks,  while Andrew is usually better within a week.

Even though on Sunday night I was feeling so sick I could not even get interested in dinner, on Monday I went to the studio to work. By 3 pm I was exhausted and totally congested, not to mention unsatisfied with the work I made. On Tuesday, I decided to try the bed thing. I have not lain in bed all day since I was a child.  It sounds fun as a concept, especially with a stack of library books and my iPad to keep me company, but in fact it was depressing. It was sunny and almost 80 degrees out, and I kept thinking how nice it would be to work on the garden. I watched movies, followed the election, and took medicine. I thought I could get some work done on the computer, but every time I tried to do something work-related, I fell asleep.

We have a friend staying with us right now, and he was encouraging me to stay in bed while throwing throat lozenges and decongestants at me from the safety of the bedroom door. I complained that not only was I sick, I was getting depressed from laying around all day. He said, "Maybe you could look at it as just choosing wellness, an accept it for whatever form it takes." That was the best thing to say to me, because as usual, I was holding myself to an impossible standard: wanting to do things healthy people do even though I was sick, judging myself for falling short, then getting depressed because of it. That is so my world in a nutshell.

So today, I actually do feel better. I'm not going to lay in bed all day again, but I am going to take it easy, try to choose wellness, and not judge myself for it.