Sunday, December 4, 2016

Shiny and Brite

   Thought I would post a couple of "before" photos, because the ones "after" my cat destroys it will be far less beautiful. 
   These are what I have left of my 
Grandmother's Shiny Brite ornament collection from the 1940s-50s. Seven years ago a very energetic foster Shiba named Wiley was playing with my two dogs, and the three of them toppled the tree, shattering most of the ornaments. Although I was mortified at the time, now I can look back at it and laugh.
   I've done all I can to make sure my tree doesn't suffer the same fate this year, but Kismet is persistent… Wish me luck!
   PS: The other side of this bright pink ornament with the glitter stars is completely shattered, but I saved it because it is my favorite. I have never seen another just like it. If you ever see one, please let me know where to find it! :)

Happy happy holidays!!!

   The holidays are in full swing and I am decorating to get into the spirit and share it with the neighborhood... With a little help from my friends.
   The Buttonwood gang sent me a beautiful, fresh cut pine wreaths. My entryway smells divine!
   And it looks great on my door. Although my front porch looks a little like a war between Christmas and Halloween! Can't bring myself to get rid of my cute pumpkins.
   I dug grandmas ornaments out of the attic, and am displaying the Alpine Village:
   This wonderful handmade, sequined Santa may have been created by my grandmother… I found it in my attic and didn't even realize I had it. Mom isn't sure, but said anything is possible!
   And I pulled my fun lime green tree out of the basement. Kismet immediately went so insane that it made me realize I haven't put up a tree in the three years since I've adopted her. She may never have seen a Christmas tree, and judging from her reaction, she likes it. Perhaps too much.
   Took about three minutes for her to knock it over. Now the base is secured with heavy books.
   And here's a photo from the top floor of the intercontinental hotel this week, of the beautiful Plaza lights... One of the best views in Kansas City!
   And today… decorating the tree!

Happy day for Tay!

   Yesterday I walked Taylor around the neighborhood, and came home to discover some leaves on the front patio that indicated maybe my gutters were full. So I climbed up on the ladder and did my annual task of cleaning them. While I was up there, I started thinking maybe it was time I put up some holiday lights, which I haven't bothered to do for several years.
   While I was on the ladder Brett called, and soon came by to lend an extra pair of hands. Much appreciated! He was on his way to Shawnee Mission Park to hike with his dog Sam, and Taylor perked up when he heard the word "Hike." So Brad open the car door, Taylor jumped in, and the three of them went hiking together while I ran my errands for the day.
   Lucky me to have such great friends, both two-legged and four-legged!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Pumpkin carnage

   This morning I was marveling at how long my painted pumpkins have lasted. Well, famous last words… A squirrel started chomping on the emoji pumpkin. And the tiniest pumpkin completely disappeared! RIP

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Teaching trial

   So let me get this straight: I come speak to your class about the business of being and illustrator/graphic designer/creative director, and you make me an awesome handmade card and bring me donuts? I think I could get used to this teaching thing!
   I was invited once again to speak to a class at art institutes international Kansas City, just a few minutes from home. In the past, I've always spoken about Japanese culture and character design. Today it was about my career, my work, and my advice for students. I have to admit, I was really nervous! I happen to believe that teaching is an extremely important job, and although I teach scuba diving, I've never formally taught in my field. I don't have a lot of confidence in my ability yet. What better reason to except the invitation and try it out?
   I figured I would talk for about an hour, but our discussion lasted three hours… Pretty much the whole class. Ha! Not only am I very capable of doing this, it's actually very exciting. In our country teachers often don't get the respect they deserve--and when you think about it, there aren't too many jobs out there that are more important than imparting knowledge to the next generation.
   I hope the information and advice I shared was valuable. The class was super attentive! Grateful to Heather for inviting me, and to see where this path could lead…

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Home sweet home

   I love my home. But after leaving my corporate job and working from home for so long, I realize how tricky that can be for me. As a strong extrovert, it's important for me to get out and spend time with people. I love people! And they give me energy.
   And now that I've said all that, let me share how grateful I am that I've been home for the past year. On November 30, 2015, I let the dogs out in the morning like I always do. But this time, as they went running off the deck, Aki started screaming in mid air and fell to the ground. I watched in horror as she tore through her ACL!
   She had corrective surgery on December 29. And it took her most of 2016 to heal. She's active like me and kept overdoing it, aggravating the surgery and slowing recovery.
   Flash forward to yesterday, November 26, almost precisely a year later. I noticed a couple weeks ago that Aki was limping on her "good" leg, so I've been very careful to restrict her activity, and things seemed to have been going OK. Until... She started running at the park, and caught herself in mid stride--squealing in pain and falling down. My heart sank. And though it was tough, I was glad to be able to carry her nearly a mile home. She did it again!
   I'll take her to the vet this week to confirm the diagnosis and schedule the surgery. She's only 9.5 years old, and Shibas can live as long as 17. So it's only fair that I do everything it takes to give her a great, long life. (And hope the money will take care of itself somehow.)
   Today has been pretty chill, I've been on the phone following up on job leads and working on my computer, with my girl at my feet. As excited as I am to be working outside the home again, I am so very grateful that I can be here to help see her through this recovery... Again. She's the first dog I adopted on my own, and she trusts me like no other person.  They say things happen for a reason, and she is my reason! <3
   And that cute photo of her sleeping soundly was made possible by our dear friend and pet sitter, Mary Ann. She dropped by and surprise us today with a brand-new, huge, soft and comfy dog bed. Feeling extra blessed today!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Happy Hobbs show

      So grateful that my friend Bill Sullivan invited me to hang out in his studio today and sell some of my work! www.jenrarey.com
   The rest is now online for sale on my new website, just in time for holiday shopping!
   And after that, some much needed time with friends Rich and Britten, and Brett, at Voltaire and Stockyard brewing.

Surprise visitors

   Interesting morning… 2 mile walk with my dogs, and halfway through, Aki started limping so badly she couldn't walk. 99.9% sure she tore her other ACL. Awesome. So I start walking back towards home, carrying a dog more than 25% of my own weight. Guess I'll skip the gym today!!
   But wait--There's more!
   Just a few blocks from home, a dog charged towards us. My dogs were snarling, on high alert, though I'm not sure I would trust them to protect me given that this dog was practically the size of all three of us combined!! 
   Fortunately, the big boxer/Rottweiler mix just wanted to play. Which presented a new problem: she was jumping and darting about like boxers do, which caused Taylor to get all excited, and my dog walking belt slipped down around my ankles and tripped me. I was lucky to stay on my feet, with my girl in my arms!
   The dog followed us home, trying to play the whole way, and I was able to get a leash around her head and drag her into my garage so that she will be safe until animal control can come pick her up. As a thanks, she left me a "present." Ugh!!!! I'm just glad we're all safe.
   And just a few days later, as I was returning home from a walk, a woman driving by stopped and called out to me. She had picked up another stray dog and was hoping I recognized it. Nope! But fortunately was some diligent work from the two of us, this week girl was returned to her owner within the day.
   The moral of the story is that each and every parent should be microchip and wearing a collar with their name and owners phone number at all times.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

  Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends! It's one of my favorite days of the year, as we are invited to look around us and be grateful for all of the blessings in our lives (which we should remember to do every day!). And invariably, the greatest blessings in my life our friends and family. This year I had several invitations to join friends for Thanksgiving, and I was able to accept a couple of them.
  The day started early with a turkey day 5k (or in our case, a pilgrim run) with the Buttonwood Financial team: Jon and Wendy, John and Catherine, and Mitchell, along with Madeline and Wayne.
   Although it was cold, it wasn't raining, and although I haven't run in over three months due to my injury, I was able to run with Wayne and completed the race without incident. Compared to my normal pace it was slow, but I chalk this one up to a huge success! (Bib #4039, 26th and my division, 575 overall, finish time 37:34, overall pace 12:08)
   I spent some time with Kelly's cats since he is out of town, then showered and dressed and headed back to the plaza for a phenomenal lunch at Capital Grille with Jon, Wendy, and Mitchell from Buttonwood. I don't know about you, but I would trade the traditional turkey and mashed potatoes for steak and lobster any day! Especially when they are accompanied by lobster mac & cheese, calamari and hot cherry peppers, and a great red wine from France. So grateful that these guys invited me to join the race and the lunch again this year.
   Then I headed to the Tompkins home to enjoy more great wine, homemade pecan pie from Diane, A long walk through beautiful Hyde Park – the location of our morning run – and great conversation. For many years the Tompkins clan has graciously invited me to join their Thanksgiving celebration, and I'm so grateful they're my Kansas City family! The usual suspects were there: Gail, Nancy and David, Tasha and her new boyfriend, Bob and Ana.
   After all that, it was good to head back home to my pets, who were excited to see me. Extra treats all around.
   Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Merry Fishmas!

   TA-DAAAAH!!! Mel and I finished her holiday door decor on my living room floor (assisted--or hindered--by my pets, of course!), and Chris helped us install it in her office. 
   We dove together in Roatan, Honduras this year and a couple of our favorite sites have large crevasses in the coral you can swim through. The story we depicted is a diver coming though a crack to discover the fish getting into the holiday spirit, using bubbles to decorate their coral "tree." 
   All of the fish are ones we've seen together... Except for Rudolph the red-lighted anglerfish. And usually the tanks say "Nitrox" and don't look like ugly Christmas sweaters.

   Now I'm ready for Christmas AND ready for scuba... two great things that go better together!!! (We happen to be instructors, so hit us up if you're ready to scuba!)
   Here are a few shots of the work in progress in reverse order: