Monday, August 27, 2018

A New Job

I just started a new part-time position as the director of Weizenblatt Gallery for Mars Hill University. MHU is a private college right here in the town I live in, about 15 miles or so north of Asheville.  The gallery hosts about ten shows a year.  Last week, I spent a lot of time hanging my first show there: the biennial Faculty Show.  It took way too long, of course, because I'm still learning the ropes, where the tools are, what they expect to see in the gallery, what to do with the student work-study people, who to talk to about publicity, and so on.  Tomorrow, I have to put together the plan for the reception on Wednesday.  Once the reception is over, I gotta do the planning for the next show so that thing go smoother.

Some people wonder why I agreed to do this.  After all, in addition to my studio activities, I still work  as a proposal writer for small firms trying to get federal contracts.  And I'm on the board of a small Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) focused on the Kurdish region of Iraq.  And I've been working with the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), which is a volunteer organization that mentors small businesses that are trying to get started, or grow, or whatever.  At the same time, I have a lot of "life" stuff to do: chores, walk the dog, mow the yard, fix this or that, you know the drill - lots of things that just eat up time.  I needed one more activity like I needed a hole in the head.

But this gives me an opportunity to work with the Art Department students.  I really enjoy working with the young ones just starting out: build their capabilities some, give them confidence that they can do it, show that there's a helluva lot more to art than they can comprehend right now, and help them learn how to find their voice.  I love seeing the flash of sudden insight, especially when it's something that I know will stay with them and not be forgotten in two weeks.

So to make time for the gallery, I'm cutting back on my SCORE functions and one of the tasks associated with proposal writing.  My focus is going to be more on art and art-related functions going forward.  I'm still figuring out what that means.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Living with an Old Dog

My little Soozzee turned 15 years old last month.  She's been with us since she was a tiny pup.  To say that she owns my heart is both accurate and an understatement.  She's the sweetest little dog that was ever born.  Yes, I know, yours is too, but I'm absolutely certain that Soozzee is the queen.

But she's getting old and I'm acutely aware that her time with us is limited.  Over the past year, especially, her age is dragging her down.  Her walks are a bit shorter these days and much slower than they were a year ago.  Her hearing is pretty much gone.  She's totally blind in one eye and almost blind in the other.  She bumps into things around the house.  Her hair has gone from thick and honey-colored to thin and white.  She has old-dog skin bumps, bad skin flakes, and dry eye in both eyes.  Often when she stands in one place, one or more of her legs shake.  The dog formerly known as "Piglet" has to be hand-fed.  She's gone from a hefty 20 pounds to a thinner 16.8 and may not be done yet.  She used to chase The Light (a laser pointer) around the house every single evening.  Now, I'm not sure she can see it anymore, and she only does about a half lap around the house anyway.  She has always been a world-class nap-taker, but her nap times have increased to where she's only awake maybe two or three hours a day, spread over a 12-hour period.

Still, Soozzee is hanging in there.  She still has control of her bowels, thank God, so unlike some other older dogs, she doesn't need diapers.  When she hits her favorite field on her afternoon walk, she still likes to run.  True, what once was one long run is now a series of short and slow runs broken up with rest stops, but she runs.  She likes to go for her daily ride in the car.  She still pounces on The Light when she can see it.  She can rattle the windows with her snoring.  Occasionally we'll get a good tail wag, and every once in a while, the dog that rarely gave us slurps during her whole life will give us one.

I was an emotional wreck when we had to put her sister Indy down shortly after Christmas.  I know I'm going to be an even worse wreck when Soozzee goes.  It may not be that much longer.  But I'm going to treasure every moment I have with this little dog.