November 25, 2008
November 11, 2008
Labor day, September 1 st, was the first day of our long awaited vacation and we wanted to get the mundane out of the way, so we went out grocery shopping to fill the cupboards before getting caught up in the freedom our vacation would bring. Jer always helped me with the shopping, the loading of the car, the unloading and the putting away of the items when we got them home. I was always so grateful for his help, but especially this day, as I wasn't feeling well.
Jer always did the cooking, but he had a lesson to give that evening, so we splurged and ordered take-out. After all the groceries were put away, we sat down to a nice meal together and I apologised to Jer for being so grumpy that morning. I had taken some medicine for my pain and crampiness, and planned to take a nap when Jer went to teach his guitar student. Jer jumped in the tub as I drifted off to sleep.
I awoke a 8:30 p.m. I was feeling much better. Jer wasn't home. He had mentioned he might go to Bingo, so I got busy with my dolls. As midnight approached, I was filled with anticipation and listening for Jer to drive up in his Jeep. Our kitty always got excited too and would run to a window to look out at him and then wait for him at the top of the stairs. I would hear him come in, and hear him say in a sing-song voice, " Zillaaaa ! I'm home ! "
In our 6 years living together I had NEVER spent a night without Jer. As much as he liked to stay busy and was always on the go, I could count on him being there in the mornings and at the end of the day. But this night would be different. When he didn't show up just after midnight, I started to worry, but then reassured myself with the thought that perhaps Jer won at Bingo and was trying his luck at the slot machines ... on the rare occasion he would win on the slots, sometimes he would come home thrilled for the win, and sometimes he would stay out late playing it back .... he must be playing it back, I thought.
2 a.m. came and went ... I couldn't sleep so kitty and I watched a T.V. show ... the show had sled dogs in it and I chuckled as the kitty was actually watching T.V. with me, excited for the barking and the movement on the screen. I couldn't wait for Jer to come home to tell him how cute she was ! 4 a.m. came and went ..... now I was REALLY worried.
I had told Jer the few times he did this that I would worry, not because he was out late, but because I would worry he would fall asleep coming home and end up on the side of the road somewhere. By 7 a.m. I was frantic.
Jer's brother Tom came through the door. He always stopped in during the week for coffee before he went to work, but this was too early ... then I heard his wife ... not a good sign, as she almost never came over in the morning ... I rushed downstairs and said " Where's Jerry !?! "
Tom explained, " I was called to the Emergency room late last night and Jer was in surgery all night ... he's in the I.C.U. now.
My heart sank. There was no time to chastise Tom for not calling me. I threw some clothes on and was out the door headed to I.C.U.
Tom had filled me in while I was dressing. Jer had been headed up to play bingo, but never got there. He had a friend in the car with him. He had said, " I feel dizzy " and pulled the car over, then suddenly went limp over the steering wheel. The friend flagged someone down who had a cell phone and EMS was called. Jer was rushed to the E.R. and told he needed to go into surgery or he would die. He gave verbal consent and was rushed to surgery. Jer had experienced a leaking abdominal aneurysm - a weakness in an artery wall had perforated. He was losing blood fast.
When I got to the I.C.U. I saw Jer hooked up to no less than eleven I.V.s and he was on a breathing machine. But he was AWAKE and alert and he KNEW I WAS THERE ! He reached out for me and I held his hand. He squeezed my hand in that tender way that only he could. I asked him a few questions and he was able to answer appropriately yes or no. I was so glad to be able to communicate with him. He fought against his respirator to say " I LOVE you ! " and " It'll be alright ! "
But as a nurse, it was soon obvious to me that he was doing very poorly. His organs were shutting down. His blood pressure was extremely low and dropping. The nurses were working fervently over him, a constant whirl of activity keeping up with all the I.V.s and blood transfusions. Nothing was working.
I had all day Tuesday with Jer, and only stepped away from him as other friends and family would come in to shake his hand and say a few words to him. I stayed by his side all evening and was pleased that his favorite vocalist, Eileen, stopped by in the late evening around 10 p.m. She sang a few songs to him and it was clear he was glad to see her. He squeezed her hand and shook his head yes and no to her questions.
The change of shift came and I was asked to step out of the room so the nurses could reposition Jer. I was allowed back in at Midnight. I returned to my position at the bedside and reached for Jer's hand ... there was no response ... I went to his face and looked into his swollen eyes. His pupils were dilated and he no longer followed my movements. My Jer was unconscious.
We had turned the corner and it was now time for me to tell Jer it was O.K. to go now. His body was broken and unable to be repaired. I told him to go be with his Mother, that I would be O.K. I told him Tal Farlow had a great gig for him and he would be playing with the angels now.
At about 4 a.m. the nurse requested I call the rest of the family back to the hospital. We all gathered around and waited, and talked about days gone by ... we talked about how Jer loved to make people laugh. It was just after 10 a.m. when Jer's cousin Greg, who was more like a brother to him, had re-told a story about him and Tom and Jer goofing off around the table as kids. Greg got us all laughing and Jer's vital signs all seemed to pick up for a minute ... then crashed to zero.
The nurse said. " He's gone. "
Greg jumped up and said, " I KILLED him ! " and quickly exited the room. We all followed him to reassure him that Jer left BECAUSE we were laughing and " his job was done here " .... there would have been no better time to leave us then right then while we were all laughing about a funny stunt he pulled when he was a kid.
After consoling the family, I went back into the room. It is my belief that the spirit lingers over the body for a time, kind of like stopping to say goodbye to it. I asked the nurse to help me get a lock of Jer's curly hair. She consented.
The nurse watched silently as I picked up Jer's head and cradled it in my bosom one last time.
I then kissed Jer full on the lips and said, " Goodbye shell of my beloved " and looking up, said to the spirit of Jer that I could still FEEL in the room, " I WILL see you again ! "
Without further words, the nurse handed me her scisors and I clipped a lock of hair.
With that, I thanked the nurses and left to go home and tell Jer's 95 year old Dad that he had lost his son.
It's been a bit over two months since Jer passed on Sept. 3 2008. Life without Jer has been hard. He was my Rock, as I wrote about him in a previous blog entry. I spent my vacation packing to move into my own place and I was mad at the universe for taking my Jer before I had the chance to spend his 60 th birthday and some quality time with him.
I had tremendous support from his many friends and the musical community. There was a musical celebration and dedication a few weeks after his death, and the Mayor of Plattsburgh declared a Jerry Lavene day to continue to honor his memory for all time.
I was so pleased to see Jerry honored this way. He SO deserved it !
I was also comforted by my online community. So many people had come to " know " Jer through my forum posts and Flickr photo stream. I got over 800 views and 87 comments on this Flickr photo alone ! ( see below )
( Click photo to enlarge )
Even now, I don't know what I would have done without the many far away friends that helped me NOT feel alone !
THANK YOU ALL !
I now busy myself sorting through the music Jer left behind. It is my single-minded task to gather his music together and transfer cassette and CD recordings to DVD. I have found some treasures among the many cassettes. Some recordings will need to be " cleaned up " for better sound quality. I also have a years worth of guitar lessons that Jer gave to me which I had recorded on VHS. I recently bought a VHS to DVD converter/ recorder so that I can transpose these memories to DVD and then be able to share them on line. I want to get Jer's music out to the masses. It is a Herculean task to gather the bits and pieces into a compact music collection, but it is my hearts desire and will help me to heal.
In time, I will be able to get past the pain and remember all the love, laughter and music Jer brought to my life. I was so Blessed !!
July 20, 2008
This is a curious thing for me, as I never liked dolls as a young girl, but add the customization and the photography aspect and it is a new and interesting thing for me.
Just to refresh on how it all started ... I first discovered Blythe through a friend and got a Cinnamon Girl with the sole purpose of making her into something even better than her original concept.
She started like this:
She went through several incarnations .....
this being one of my favorites:
Then finally she was completed ( she can wear the red wig anytime, but I put her original hair back on her)
After my Blythe A.J. was done, I went a bit crazy with Pullips.
I have a Taeyang Timulus named Lar, who is the A.J.'s boyfriend. They had a baby together !!
This is A.J. Lar and little Mindy
Isn't little Mindy cute !!?
But there was always something about Lar's eyes that bothered me ... like they were kind of vacant ... so I took the eyes out of a new Pullip I had just bought for a major custom overhaul and put them into Lar.
Ah yes ... MUCH better !!
Meanwhile, I had also been working on my Pullip Sandi ... she was to get some blue eyechips ( sanded to fit Blythe chips, previously from A.J. ) and a pinker shade of lip gloss.
Sandy came to me looking like this:
But as my Mother's name sake, she had to have blue eyes ... so now she looks like THIS:
It took me three tries to get her lips the way I wanted them, but it proved good practice for my upcoming custom .....
BUT FIRST, I got a great deal on a girl who needs nothing ( except perhaps an eye chip change )
Meet Sashi my Rida Pullip
Sashi joined my Doll family just before my Nahh-Ato arrived. The Nahh-Ato, who was to be named Gita, was beautiful when she came, but I had big plans for her and had already ordered some things for her makeover.
Here's what she looked like when she came:
You may note that she had the eyes that went into my boy Pullip.
As beautiful as she was, it didn't take long for me to start her transition ...
First add the wig ...
Then multiple tries at face painting ... followed by a complete re-do with pastel chalks.
and finally ... just waiting on her Eyechips from Coolcat, that will be a deep brown.
Right now she is wearing a slightly damaged set of chips that came out of my other Pullip Sandi, who exchanged her brown eyes for blue.
So after all this Pullip love, I felt compelled to spend a day with A.J. We went for a walk down by the river and had a great time !
She had such a good time, she didn't want to leave ...
April 28, 2008
So in leu of that time constraint, I have decided to do something that will enhance both my health and well being. Several years ago I was big into whitewter kayaking. I miss it and long for the days on the rapids, but realize I am not in the kind of physical conditioning that it takes to be safe on the rivers that I would want to descend. But that doesn't mean I can't kayak at all !
I sold one of my " high end " guitars that I wasn't playing much and that afforded me the cash to go in search of a nice touring kayak. I live on the beautiful Lake Champlain, often considered America's 6 th " Great Lake ".
I was a bit shy about looking for a boat .... wondering if I would be taken seriously, due to being 100 lbs heavier than when I was an active boater. I dreaded meeting up with a 20 something paddler who would take one look at me and try to sell me a flat bottomed " fisherman's boat with a barcolounger for a seat and a beer holder :P But I was quite fortunate to find the owners of the Kayak Shack, a couple in their late 30's who were not only professional but just plain NICE.
I didn't end up with a floating tank ! I ended up buying a 17 foot sleek boating machine ! The perfect boat to get me out there paddling and back into shape !
I smile to myself every time a man asks me if I want help getting the boat up on the car. It must be some sight to see a 5'3" overweight chick heft this boat over her head and up onto a car that is taller than her *smiles* But that is part of the " workout " .... it would be like asking a girl at the gym if she needs help lifting the dumbells O_0
So I have been out boating several times already and I was ready to up the ante. I challenged myself to a long paddle - circumnavagate Valcour Island. My plan wasn't to simply paddle around the island, but to explore every bay and inlet getting to know the entire shoreline ... no short cuts !
Valcour Island is the forth largest Island on Lake Champlain at about 2 miles long and 1 mile wide. It is almost 1000 acres and has over 7 miles of paths traversing it's perimeter. It is conveniently located just a few miles south of my house.
I set out to make the trek on Sunday, April 27 th . In the early part of the day, the wind was Southerly at about 15 MPH. I chose to paddle around the southern part of the Island first and get the hardest part over with, as the shore would be unprotected from the waves there.
Just crossing over to the Lighthouse was a bit hairy. As I paddled up the shore, I saw a man paddling for all he was worth and met up with him when he came toward shore.
I said, " Beautiful day we're having ! "
He said, " You think so ... I'm terrified ! "
He was in a beautiful wooden Kayak.
I said, " Well, just stay close enough to shore so you can swim in before hypothermia gets you ! " He said " that's why I have this dry suit on ! "
We wished each other luck and I headed for the unprotected south shore of the island, wondering if maybe I should turn back .....
I met 3 - 4 Ft waves on the southern shore !!
I considered turning back, but pressed on, remembering that it wouldn't be the waves that would flip me, but how I reacted to them. I calmed down and just relaxed and rode the biggest ones ... and once through those, I found protection on the western side of the Island .
I didn't just paddle " around " the island, I explored every bay on both sides. So it was the absolute longest trek around the island that you can do ! I'm not sure of the distance ... but I would guess between 5 and 8 miles ??!
By the time I made it to the northern shore, the wind had calmed down to about 6 MPH. I had mild waves heading back to the New York mainland. It took me 5 hours all told, with one 45 min. break to stretch my legs and take photos.
I WANT TO DO IT AGAIN !!!
I have photos on my flicker where I stopped to have lunch.
February 17, 2008
A great chance to be productive has been lost due to a miserable chest cold and sinus infection :P
Since I can't seem to lay down to get some sleep, but I don't have the energy to do anything else, I thought I could catch up on my blog.
I've been a bit busy since after the holidays. I got my kitty spayed in the beginning of January. She has since forgiven me :)
I was busy practicing on my flute and guitar for our annual Memorial Service for the families of our deceased Cancer patients. This was especially hard as one of my co-workers lost her Mom who had been a patient and friend for many years - a wonderful lady. Another co-worker is out due to her 22 year old son's battle with Cancer. My sore sinuses seem so trivial in light of that :P
Each year for the last 5 years I have played the music for this Service, and each year I got nervous and choked in some way. Well, finally I made it through and was even better than any of my practice recordings. You can see some of those on my Youtube : http://www.youtube.com/user/5timesstray
After I got past the stress of the Memorial Service, I tackled another stressful task .... opening up my Blythe doll for her customization. I should give a little background history here.
I never played with dolls as a child. I was the quintessential Tom Boy. But somewhere along the way, a friend's custom doll and browsing Flickr, I became interested in buying a doll strictly to customize her. For those who know ... I got Cinnamon Girl. She is a doll with a sun tanned complexion, sweet face but gaudy orange make up :P Even with the gaudy make up, I fell in love with her fast and procrastinated the custom work.
This is what she looked like when I first got her home.
This is what she looks like now.
I still haven't glued her back together. I want to be ABSOLUTELY sure I have done everything to her that I want to that requires having her head opened up. For the doll geeks this is what I have done so far ....
Sand matted her face
reapplied make up on her face and eye lids
changed out all 4 eye chips ( foiled and painted )
replaced her stock eye lashes
gave her sleep eyes
gave her new pull strings and pull rings
Washed, conditioned and soft curler set her hair
Put her back together ... mostly ;>)
My Doll's name is A.J. ( Amanda Joyti )
Amanda = Latin for worthy of Love andJyoti = Hindu for Light.
Of course it's hard to stop at just ONE Blythe, so I had a game plan ....
I bought two Pullips :D A boy and a girl, and I bought a bunch of wigs for A.J. to switch in and out of, thus making her seem like more than one girl ( but hopefully not making her feel like Sybil )
One of the really fun things to do with these dolls is to photograph them on adventures, and the three of them had their first adventure out of the house on Valentine's Day.
Am I crazy to put my dolls in such peril for a photograph ? Especially considering the cheapest Pullip was about 55 dollars and the Blythe was over 100 dollars ??
I think the photos were worth it :)
February 16, 2008
Well here are the rules:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
So, I was tagged by a dear friend who I admire and respect - Amanda at http://pomomama.blogspot.com/ Please check out the cool things she does in her spare time while raising a cute kid !
Seven Facts :
1) As seen in the above photo, I wasn't always Blonde. I started turning gray at 25 and brown just didn't cover it well, so by the age of 30 I started dying it Blonde. It gets lighter every year - even though I am using the SAME COLOR ! :P
2) Also as referenced by the above photo, I was once a friend's Maid of Honor for her wedding. I hated it ! It was a stressful job and I had no idea what the protocols were. I had written a poem and she asked if she could have a friend set it to music and then have me sing it at the wedding. At the last minute, she confessed to me that she told her husband-to-be that SHE wrote it ! OOPS ! So it was very awkward as this was announced at the wedding :P We have since drifted apart.
3) I have a Pituitary Tumor. It's nothing really, now that I am on medication for it. But it explains a lot about the years between age 16 and 37, when I was basically in menopause because of it :P
4) Once in college I dressed up as a Drunken Clown and went out with my friends to a bar. I made a production by throwing some change on the floor and going through all kinds of stunts to pick it up. Patrons of the bar started throwing their change down for me to pick up. I made enough money to drink for free that night :>)
5) I was big into Karate in my 20's I went to New Orleans for a National AAU Karate Championship and ended up placing 2nd in Sparring in the brown belt division ! I was days away from testing for my Black Belt when I went into Nursing School and got buried in course work for that. I never went back to it after I started nursing full time.
6) I love Mountains and Rivers and Whitewater ! I have Kayaked many New England rivers and also the Ottawa in Canada. The Ottawa is BIG, raging Whitewater and I was really nervous, but lived through it :D
7) I HATE wearing shoes :P
Now to TAG 7 friends - weeeeeeeeeee !
1) Amanda at http://beadnfiberbabe.blogspot.com/ She makes Jewelry, knits wonderful socks and tiny sweaters and is responsible for introducing me to Blythes :D
2) Amber at http://trollflings.blogspot.com/ She is a truly inspiring Mommy of 5 by day and a master clay artist by night, chugging away on our mutual addiction - COFFEE !
3) Ouissi at http://memoryisart.blogspot.com/ She is as sweet as her nickname " Cupcake " and has a great eye for color and texture. She creates beautiful three dimensional cards.
4) Nico at http://nicoletirona.blogspot.com/ She is a driven, outspoken and honest girl who has a flair for style and a thriving jewelry business.
5) Simone at http://www.blog.simonewalsh.com/ My friends and I love and respect her so much, we call her "god" :D She is very smart, independent and creative. She makes beautiful things out of metal.
6) Andy at http://www.andymathis.blogspot.com/ A fun, smart and handsome fellow who helps animals and paints !
7) Starry at http://starrydesigns.blogspot.com/ Just one of the sweetest Jewelry makers on the web !
Boy, that was hard to pick JUST 7 people !!! There are a few people I would have loved to include, but I know their lives are too hectic right now to participate and I didn't want to put more pressure on them :P
Writing this has made me realize I need to update my " friend's link " list !!!
Bye for now ! Off to TAG the above peeps ~ :D
January 28, 2008
First, about the most important change in my life ... my Miss Pawly, or as I have come to call her " Sweet P "
A lot has happened since the night of December 1 st when Pawly came inside and decided to stay ... she has only been outside once for a few hours to play in some new fallen snow. I thought it only fair to give her that opportunity, as she had not yet experienced snow. Her only other outings have been to the vet.
Pawly had gone into heat the week of Christmas, and that was a curious thing for me, having never owned a cat before, as she would go downstairs and call for a mate. It kept us awake at night, but she was even cute doing that. I swear, she was shouting " HELLO ! " and would have loved to share an audio of it, but every time I got out of bed to tape her ... she stopped.
Her second week long episode of calling for a boyfriend came immediately after the holidays. She gave us only 9 days of rest ! I had been putting off getting her spayed, as I didn't even know if I could catch her to put her in a carrier, but our lack of sleep was becoming a reason to push forward. I started to pick her up when she would present herself, elevating her bottom toward me in hopes of some "action". She was much harder to catch when she was not actively in heat, as she was not used to human contact. I scheduled the vet appointment and hoped for the best.
Meanwhile, it was obvious that Pawly was attached to me. She followed my every move like a toddler underfoot. But I could only pet her while she was eating. So on the morning of her first vet visit, I fed her and picked her up just before she was finish ... plopped her into the carrier and we were off. I was amazed how well she did at the vet's. In her anxiety, she allowed me to hold her while she was examined and all went well. We scheduled the spay for two days later.
It was hard for me to leave Pawly alone at the vet. She peed in her carrier due to fright and watched me as I went out the door. I worried all day, but was told to call ANY time to check on her. All went well and my kitty recovered very quickly. You can see her on my Youtube just 2 days after surgery - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxMLQQSLwTM
Now she is tearing around the house as if she never had surgery. I am on a mission to get her used to being picked up and cuddled. At this point she tolerates it, but doesn't seem to enjoy it ( YET ) but she seems to have explored every inch of the house now, and calls it her own. She has several favorite spots and sleeps on the bed with us occasionally. She comes calling on us in the mornings, impatient to have someone to play with. She is spoiled in every sense of the word ... and I don't know how I ever got along with out her :D
As for the Jewelry business, I am at a crossroads with that and will update at a later time. I need to think about where I want to go with it. I haven't created a thing since being banned from the Etsy forums. I have followed the goings on through friends still on Etsy, and it seems like a tumultuous time over there, still. My website and Mintd provide a platform for selling my jewelry, but I need to re-evaluate what I want out of the whole venture.
Lately my time has been divided between my new furry family member and some projects with Jer that have been on the back burner. I have also spent more time on the guitar, as I have a Memorial Service to do in a few days. I play my flute and guitar and sing for this event annually, and still get nervous about it every time :P I'll report on that in a few days.
And finally, I have a new hobby ! One that has me a bit befuddled, as I never played with dolls as a youth, nor did I have interest in them. I am fully smitten with Blythe and Pullip dolls. I think part of the attraction is the photography of the dolls and the option to customize them into little works of art and personalized "buddies".
Here is a photo of my girl Sandihttp://www.flickr.com/photos/blondezilla/2211713168/
So I have been very busy with new things and old commitments, but have not forgotten all my good friends from Etsy ! I hope everyone is doing well and I will be more diligent with keeping my blog current now that the holiday madness is over ;>)