Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Anticipation…or…are we there YET?!?

Sunrise in my front yard, anticipating the day ahead

This month’s theme for the Art Bead Scene Blog Carnival is “Anticipation.”

For me, anticipation is a double-edged sword. While it’s exciting and pleasurable to look forward to something, it’s also frustrating to wait and a little scary because I don’t know exactly what to expect.

Here are a few ways we artists encounter anticipation on a regular basis:
  • planning, executing, and finishing our own projects
  • participating in swaps and stalking the mail delivery person for our return packages
  • patiently practicing our skills to better manifest our artistic visions
  • coping with lengthy publication schedules before we see our articles and tutorials in print
  • sitting on pins and needles before hearing the results of design competitions or approaches to galleries
For those of us who are lampwork artists, the hours between turning off the torch and opening the kiln the next day seem e-n-d-l-e-s-s.
This is what came out of the kiln this morning...mmm, pretty...
I'm eagerly anticipating what I will create with these beads!

Anticipation frustration usually happens when I’m locked into a particular outcome, or maybe because I’ve scripted something in my mind down to the gnat’s heinie. This might be a new bead or jewelry design, an event I’m planning to attend, or a collaborative project with another artist. Expecting a certain result limits the options available, and quite often sets the stage for disappointment...too, this can be a waste of creative energy that would be better used more productively.

One way I deal with anticipation frustration is by setting general goals and outlining baby steps (thank you FlyLady!) I can take to move toward those goals. This enables me to maintain my momentum, especially on large or long-term projects, despite an apparent lack of immediate progress. Too, having things written down enables me to review my plan, assess the current status, and adjust my approach, if need be. It’s kind of like heading off on a road trip with a map at your side – sure, you can take detours or unexpected stops if you choose, but the map will be there to help you get back on track.

detail of Pennsylvania map, circa 1974

It’s fun to visualize the future, but I believe it’s essential to keep an open heart and look forward with a willingness to accept and experiment with what transpires. A piece of paper posted at my art table reads:

If I knew then what I know now,
I would have been less fearful
and more trusting
that the Divine will care for me.

Reading this reminds me to stop and breathe, and make sure I’m firmly planted in the present and not freaking out about the future.

Bandage Check #1 earns an A+!!!

Rufie, doin' time in the pen...

Took Mr. Rufus in yesterday morning for the first of his weekly bandage checks...and the vet says it looks GREAT!

This is terrific news for everyone - our greatest concern at this point is Rufus developing an infection (either in the bone, because of all the metal, or on his skin, because of the full cast), which may result in him losing his leg.

Rufus' spirits are still up - and he's very interested in going for a walk, but we're not q-u-i-t-e ready for that yet (and we won't be for some time).

We will return to the vet next week on the 8th so they can split open Rufie's cast, cut it down to fit his less-swollen leg, and replace it to continue supporting all of those tiny bone fragments in the hope that they will decide to heal.

Because the vet will have to use a cast saw to bi-valve the cast, Rufus will either be heavily sedated or under anesthesia - we can't have him getting spooked or moving around while they're working on him. Sure wish they could sedate Mama too...

Michelle Buchan, one of the very talented Greyhound Pets, Inc. volunteers put together the following slide-show of adopted GPI hounds - Rufus and Sam aren't on this one, but you will see lots of happy hounds!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Farewell Fentanyl!

Rufie, post-surgery, with Fentanyl patch on neck

It's Friday night of one of the l-o-n-g-e-s-t weeks I've ever had - but that's OK, because Rufus made it through surgery (which was my biggest worry) and is now beginning the long road to recovery.

Rufie's spirits are good and he got his Fentanyl patch off today. So far, his toes peeking out of his full cast are still looking really good (we’re watching very carefully to see if they get hot or swollen – we'll need to take him to the vet right away if they do).

He’s getting around better than I’d expected, and tired of the x-pen already, LOL. I think we’re going to experiment with the crate Sunday – I can’t leave him home alone in the x-pen with Ivy & Sam roaming free in the house – there is way too much potential for disaster, so Rufus has been going for a few rides in the car with us. He lays down mostly, but every so often, he’ll stand up while I’m driving – which is not at all good for my stress level, the little stinker.

Rufus is tolerating his cast fairly well – it’s a full cast, because we had no other options – the surgeon put a tension strap on one of the bones he broke, to hold his Achilles tendon in place, but the other bone is basically crushed, with many small pieces, too small to do anything with. We’re hoping the tiny pieces will knit themselves together, if provided enough rest and support with the full leg cast.

Our biggest concerns at this point are keeping him very quiet and doing all we can to prevent any sort of infection...should one develop, hopefully we're watching him close enough to spot it right away and get him in to Dr. Salloom.

To everyone who has sent love, prayers, white light, and healing energy to Rufus - words cannot begin to describe how much this means to all of our family. I firmly believe that Rufus is doing so great because of it. Knowing how many people care about our sweet boy gives our family the strength and courage we need to keep a positive attitude about this challenge.

We are extremely grateful to everyone who has so kindly shared their blessings with us by donating to Rufus' surgery fund. This unexpected generosity has eased the stress we face as a family. We did not expect this sort of help, especially with the economy as it is, but please know that we do truly appreciate it!

I am taking a little break from hound-care tomorrow morning - I'm going up to Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle to make glass beads with other Fire & Rain/ISGB members for the Beads of Courage program. Beads of Courage provides artisan beads to children coping with serious health issues; for each procedure or treatment, a child is allowed to choose a bead to add to his or her string. The string of beads gives each child a tangible way to document his or her journey. I'm delighted to be able to contribute what I can to this project! (I just hope my beads turn out pretty for the kids...eeek!)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rufus Update, 03.23.10

Just got off the phone with the vet’s office this morning – Rufus is doing really well and ate his breakfast this morning, which is always a good sign!

The tech I spoke with said that they will be removing Rufie’s IV pain control drip at 11 a.m. today, and then they’ll be watching him for a couple of hours to see how he does.

My plan is to pick the kids up after school and take them with me to fetch Rufus.

Regarding Rufus’ surgery... anytime one of my loved ones goes under anesthesia, my benchmark for success is “coming out of anesthesia alive” – I consider everything after that pure gravy.

I know our vet and the surgeon did the very best they could with the mess they found (it turned out to be much worse than had been indicated on the initial x-rays), and I have faith that Rufie will be just fine, one way or another.

I received a couple of emails yesterday from greyhound-savvy folks who voiced a few concerns regarding our treatment plan for Rufus.

1. One person asked if they were amputating Rufus’ leg, and whether or not they did a biopsy, since it’s odd for a bone to just break.
2. Another person mentioned that we should not allow the vet to put a full cast on Rufus’ leg, because greyhound skin is so thin. She said the standard procedure is to place a bandage and change it out every three days.

When we took Rufus' food over to the vet's last night, I ran those comments by Dr. Salloom.

Dr. Salloom said they were absolutely correct and valid concerns, and that she and Dr. Everett, the surgeon, were both very aware of them - they both looked over the x-rays with a fine-toothed comb for any bone thinning or weird appearance that might indicate that a biopsy was necessary, and found nothing suspicious for cancer or whatever else.

Dr. Salloom also said because multiple bones were involved, that was another indicator that it was a straightforward break, albeit rather messy and complicated, and not something due to an underlying condition.

Regarding the full leg cast, Dr. Salloom said they didn't really want to put it on, however and I realize this, with all the crushed bones, there really isn't another option, if we want to support those bones and try to help them heal.

The full leg cast will become loose on Rufus’ leg as the swelling goes down. The plan is to bivalve the cast in 2 weeks, cut it down to fit his less-swollen leg, and replace it. Then every 2 weeks after that, the cast will be taken off, cut down, and replaced.

Dr. Salloom fully anticipates that we will have to deal with a cast infection, because of the full leg cast, and because of Rufie's thin skin.

All, after voicing these concerns with her yesterday, and upon hearing her response, I'm more confident than ever that Dr. Salloom and Dr. Everett are giving Rufus the very best care possible.

If you’d like to learn more about Dr. Salloom and the rest of the terrific team over at Mountain View Veterinary Hospital, here’s a link to their site:

Our deepest gratitude goes out to Rufie's care team, and everyone who has sent love, white light, prayers and healing wishes to Rufus – I know that so much positive energy is really making a difference for him, and please know how thankful our entire family is for the love.

We are also truly grateful for all of the kind and generous people and organizations who have shared our story with their friends and offered to help out with Rufus’ vet bills. Janet Steele very graciously allowed us to borrow her crate and x-pen for Rufus’ recovery, and I’m starting to sell more of my work, which will help us to pay off the giant credit card bill we incurred. (Guess that means I need to get busy on the torch and make some more pretty things to post!)

I’ll post another update as soon as I get a chance, either later today or tomorrow morning.

Again, many thanks and much love to everyone!
Chris, Jerry, Emily, Archer, Ivy, Sam, and Goofy Rufie the Gimp-Hound

Monday, March 22, 2010

Post-Surgery Update on Rufie

From left: Rufus, Ivy, and Sam, keeping the soft spots warm last night

Just got off the phone with the vet - Rufus came through surgery OK, but he isn't awake yet. Doctor Everett said Rufie's injuries were worse than they appeared on the x-rays, so he wasn't able to fix it as much as he'd hoped. He was able to do a partial fix, and the rest we just have to be patient and see if Rufie heals up well.

Rufus has a full cast on his leg, and will be going back every two weeks to have the cast cut off, cut smaller, and re-applied. I hope all will be well for him, and that he will heal up beautifully.

Many thanks to everyone for your care and concern. It's really helped our family to stay positive and upbeat throughout this whole ordeal.

I will post another update when he comes home tomorrow.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Faster Disaster (or...From Bad to Worse)

my poor baby in his temporary splint - the neck wrap is over his Fentanyl (pain management) patch

It's turned out that Rufus really likes our vet - he went and shattered his hock Thursday night as he galloped around the yard. The bone holding his Achilles tendon in place was broken, and there are more fractures as well. It’s broken horizontally, vertically, and there is a compression fracture.

Rufus is scheduled for surgery Monday morning, and as you might imagine, it will be a very expensive procedure. The estimate is $2,500-$3,000. His bill from the other night’s ER visit was $500.

We are raising two kids and three greyhounds and we are in no way prepared for this financial catastrophe.

I am reaching out in the hope that someone might consider helping us. Here are a few ways folks can help:

1. I am a freelance writer with 12 years of experience writing non-fiction articles for trade and consumer publications, both print and web. In addition to articles, I have also written copy for websites, brochures, and press releases, and I’ve edited three books as well. If you know of anyone in need of a writer or editor for hire, I’m the girl!

2. Also, I am a glassblower and jewelry-maker. My work is for sale at – I make earrings, mixed media charm bracelets, pendants and necklaces and more. I try to have work available in a range of prices, and am busy working to put more items up on the site. Every purchase will help tremendously.

3. Forwarding/posting this message wherever you can will be a real help. Getting the word out about my writing and jewelry will help me to earn money for Rufus’ vet care.

4. If a person doesn’t need a writer or jewelry, but still wishes to help out, donations may be sent to:

Rufus Hansen Surgery Fund (please make checks out to Mountain View Veterinary Hospital)
Mountain View Veterinary Hospital
4620 Whitman Lane SE
Lacey, WA 98513
(360) 438-9623

Thanks very much for taking the time to read this!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

3G coverage on my couch

I never imagined all three of these rather large hounds on the couch together, but as you can see, they can make themselves compact when they want to snuggle. 3G coverage indeed!

We are so blessed to share our lives with Ivy (the hot blonde in the middle, 7.5 y.o.), Sam (the handsome black boy on the right, 6 y.o.), and Rufus (the brindle cutie with the tubes on his side, 2.5 y.o.), all retired racing greyhounds.
Princess Ivy, Queen of the House

Ivy has been with us since 2006, and we just adopted Sam and Rufus in February 2010, through Greyhound Pets, Inc.. Rufus and Sam are Ivy's "Boy Toys" or her "Pawsse," whichever is most appropriate for the situation.

Sweet, sweet Sam

We've found greyhounds as a breed to be intelligent, gentle, and a lot of fun to have around. They are not aggressive, nor are they particulary energetic - this breed is affectionately referred to as "the 43-mph couch potato." While they do enjoy a walk in the morning, or maybe a couple of laps around the yard, the rest of the day is spent keeping the softest spots in the house warm.
Rufus the Tall, pre-injury

Rufus has tubes because he found something poky in the yard and got himself a very nasty puncture wound last week as a result. Jerry, Emily, and I have spent hours in the yard (and the house) searching for the culprit, without success. We are not happy about this.
Sunshine, Rufus' sister

GPI has many more very sweet and lovable hounds in need of couches, including Rufus' beautiful and silly sister Sunshine - scroll to the bottom of the page for Sunshine's info.

You can meet these wonderful dogs yourself at one of the many "meet & greets" throughout Washington state and British Columbia. Here's a link to the schedule:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Urban Foraging For Exotic Mushrooms

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

We have been enjoying homemade soups and stews this winter, and one of the recipes that everyone in the house loves is Moosewood Restaurant's Wild Rice and Mushroom soup, found in the excellent cookbook, Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special.
Little Beech Mushrooms

I've been putting all kinds of mushrooms into this soup: dried shiitakes, oyster mushrooms, little beech mushrooms, trumpet mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, whatever I can find at our local Asian market, Hong Phat in Lacey, WA on College street.
Eryng and Brown Mushrooms

Hong Phat usually has 5 or 6 different kinds of fresh mushrooms from which to choose, all priced very reasonably. An 8-10 oz. package of oyster mushrooms runs about $2.59, while a 3.5 oz. pack of enoki mushrooms is $0.89. Dried shitake mushrooms cost $2-3 for 3.5 ounces, enough for 2 or 3 batches of soup.
King Trumpet Mushrooms

Swing by your local Asian market and see what tasty mushrooms you can find...then whip up this terrific soup for yourself! I usually double the recipe so we can have leftovers for lunch the next day. And I usually dump in way more than 4 ounces of wild mushrooms - I'll use a whole pack each of the oyster mushrooms, little beech mushrooms, enokis, and whatever else is in the fridge.
Enoki Mushrooms

Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup, from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special
serves: 4-6
yields: 8 cups
total time: 45 minutes

1 cup raw wild rice
3 cups vegetable stock or water
2 tbsp. canola or olive oil
2 leeks, rinsed and chopped (or 1 small onion, chopped)
1 cups peeled and chopped carrots
1 cup diced celery
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. salt
4 oz. fresh wild mushrooms, rinsed, tough stem ends removed, and chopped (2 cups)
4 dried shiitake, broken into little pieces, stems discarded
4 cups water
3 tbsp. soy sauce or wheat-free tamari
1/4 cup dry sherry
ground black pepper to taste

In a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, bring the rice and 3 cups of stock or water to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, about 45 minutes.

If you have a mortar and pestle, use it to grind up the dried rosemary and thyme before you add them to the soup.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a soup pot and saute the leeks or onions for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, salt, fresh mushrooms, and shiitake and saute for another 5 minutes. Stir in the water, soy sauce, and sherry and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves.

When the rice is cooked, stir it into the soup. Add pepper to taste and serve hot.