Friday, October 30, 2009

Building a Printing Press- Part 2

On we go... more work on the printing press!

This is the piece of wood (well, actually 3 pieces glued/screwed together) that Dad and I worked on last week. I've primed it, and painted it gray with enamel paint.

Next step was to make the press bed, platen, and stiffner. Dad used his tablesaw to cut them out of 3/4" sheets of MDF into each piece (side note: Can you fit 3 greyhounds with attitudes, 1 testy human, and 2 huge sheets of MDF in a little Scion xB and then drive it to your parents' house, the longest 10 miles in your life?? Answer: Yes, but I don't recommend it!! LOL!).

Dad refused to let me use the tablesaw to cut the sheets of MDF. Apparently the time I accidentally ran my hand through the sewing machine will be held against me for life! Well, Dad cut the MDF beautifully, saving all 10 of my fingers from ruin. Afterwards, I brought them home and coated them with 2 layers of polyeurathane, which will keep any dampness from warping the boards. It will also (hopefully) make them easy to wipe clean if I get any ink on them. We had some beautiful, warm fall days during the week that made painting outdoors a delight!

Jack and Lucy (BFF's??) enjoyed napping in the yard while I worked. Clifford popped out of the house occassionally to check on us but spent most of the time eating grass along the fenceline and pee'ing on my brussel sprout plants. :oP

Part 3 will hopefully be coming this weekend!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Building a Printing Press- Part 1

Last week, I roped Dad into helping me build a new printing press that was designed by Charles Morgan of Mossworks Studio. I wanted to do it myself, but I'm glad I asked Dad- he has real power tools and is a bit more, um, particular about getting measurements right, lines straight... you know how it goes. So even though I'm giving up a lot of construction control, I know it is going to be done right. :o) Dad is an expert in the woodworking/construction/all-around-fix-it field.

We spent several hours measuring and cutting 3 2x4's, glueing and screwing them together. They are going to form the top brace of the press. A bottle jack will be attached to this eventually.... that will be the mechanism that applies pressure and (hopefully) allows me to pull linocuts and woodcuts.

Word Up!

Fall in Central NY

Fillmore Glen (Moravia):

Auburn-Fleming Trail (Auburn):

Sapsucker Woods (Ithaca):

Highland Forest (Fabius):

...and the backyard :o)

Squirrel Alert!

Jack goes ballistic whenever he sees squirrels in the yard. Clifford and Lucy are just along for the ride. :o)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sharpening my Pencils

Anyone out there participating in NaNoWriMo? You spend all of November writing a novel and if you hit 50,000 words then you get to, ah, say you "won." I tried it in 2006 and wrote one page, lol. I am hoping for better luck this year. :o)
I used to be a die-hard writer. I still have a plethora of books I wrote, starting in third grade... all the way up through college (and, I can say, I have ALWAYS written about dogs. Even in college, when all the cool and hip students were writing about relationships, love, deep existential thoughts- Nerdy Jen was still writing dog stories lol). One of my minors in college was actually Creative Writing. But the past 10 years since I graduated... plop. Nothing. Nope. This is going to get me back in the swing of things.
One of the Main Characters in the story is, of course, a greyhound. And art figures prominently too. I'll post more about my plot when I get it fleshed out. I spent most of my lunch hour at the college library (I work at a college) doing research for my plot. Ah, to be studying in a college library again... I miss being young (*sniff*).
And speaking of Writing...
OMG, I'm trying to re-write my artist's statement and it is kicking my butt. Many people who create (whether fine art, photography, crafting, etc) write a sort of "mission statement" about their work. This is posted on their website and/or exhibits and it's a great way to see inside the artist's mind. I love reading artist statements- why does a person paint what they do? What makes them sculpt a certain way, or fashion something the way they do? Really neat. My current statement incorporates a lot of good stuff, but it's gangly and awkward. I'm not sure it conveys everything I want. LuAnn Udell's blog has a lot of good articles on writing a statement, but even with all the help it's still hard to talk about yourself and your art. What it means. Man, I can talk your ear off about dogs, dog training, greyhounds, my greyhounds' diarrhea, my greyhounds eating each others vomit, etc etc... but my ART??? Hard.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Beautiful Lucy

Lucy keeps me company while working in the studio.

Fast Jack!

Jack has now visited my parents' home a few times- however, it was just this weekend that he discovered the 1/2 acre fenced yard is a great area to stretch out and RUN. Not just gallop around with a ball in your mouth, but full out GO. My camera has been really crummy lately so although I took a million pics, only a few came out.

Jack was sprinting so fast around the yard that I actually worried he might hurt himself! Love his zoomy butt in this pic:

And I love this one of Amos, who did his best to keep up. He ran on the inside of Jack's imaginary "track" and frequently cut across the middle to gain ground lol.

Clifford and his Boyfriend

Visited my parents this past weekend- of course that means Amos gets to visit with his BFF Clifford. *kisses*

Monday, October 19, 2009

Open for Business!

I finally re-opened my Etsy Store, woot! Included are a few of the pieces I made for the Greyhounds In Art show this year- the Artist's Proofs of each piece were matted and framed for the show, and these are editioned pieces being sold unmatted/unframed ("Escape by a Hare" still needs to go up, but I need to print more first!). Hope you enjoy. :o)

Things have been a bit crazy this week following Dewey. First of all, I'm building a new printing press (with my Dad's help) that was designed by Charles Morgan of Mossworks Studio. The hounds and I have been doing our best to get out, hike, and see the fall foliage before the trees become naked. I visited my college bud Carol in Ithaca, and then had a greyhound playdate with friend Renee, her hubby, and their hounds. And last but definitely not least (especially in terms of mental energy, lol), I've been re-designing my website.

MANY many thanks to all of you who sent happy thoughts into the atmosphere for my boy Cliff. After playing phone tag with his vet for the past, oh, 7 days, I finally got a hold of her this morning. I tried to focus and be as clear-headed as I could when talking to her (*don't you dare have an anxiety attack while on the phone, Jennifer!* lol). She didn't mention cancer at all, only saying that Cliff's panel was fine, normal liver and kidney values, but that his white blood cell counts and platelets were low. Not extraordinarily low, but a drop. I asked if it could be his pink canine tooth causing the WBC drop (perhaps a pulpitis infection), and she said that was possible and we might try a low dose of antibiotics. Cliff's immediate "problem" though is that his new NSAID pill for arthritis, Deramaxx, is causing him to have diarrhea. Before we get Cliff on antibiotics we want to clear that up first. Plan of action is dropping the Deramaxx (which I already did- stopped Saturday) and going to a bland diet for the next week. I'll slowly re-introduce the Deramaxx.

Because Cliff has lost 4 lbs., and I've been trying to fatten him up with anything and everything I can shovel into his mouth, I'm wondering if the diarrhea is from treats instead of the Deramaxx. I guess we'll see with the Bland Diet Experiment. Chicken and rice? He's going to love it lol! Much more fun than kibble.

Anyway, this whole conversation made me wonder about the LAST conversation I had with the vet, while I was getting ready to leave for Dewey. Why did she even mention cancer and scare me? Was I pushing her for "worst case scenarios" which is why she said it (which is totally possible)? Did I over-react and blow some little tidbit she said totally out of proportion (again, knowing myself that is totally possible)? Did she say other things but when I heard "cancer" I totally zoned and that's all I remembered afterwards? Or did she not say anything today because it STILL might be cancer but she doesn't want to worry me? Is she hiding something? Am I losing my marbles? Wait, don't answer that.

I have a bunch of great pics from this weekend that I'm going to try to get posted tonight- including the first stages of my new press! But for now lunch break at work is over and I need to get back to my mailing.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Hitting the "Jack-Pot" so to speak

That is probably the corniest pun in the world, but whatever. I have been very, very lucky. I found PUPPY PICTURES OF JACK!

I was never that lucky with Lucy or Clifford.

Adopting a greyhound is a wonderful experience. You are presented with a dog that you fall head over heels with. You get his/her NGA (National Greyhound Association) racing papers, the bertillion (the official paper that lists your dog's color, and any individual markings). Sometimes, if you are lucky, you get a read-out of your dog's last 10 races, including how they placed and comments about their running from the track. You can go online to Greyhound Data, an international racing database, and find your dog's pedigree and find their siblings. You can look up the siblings and see if they are still racing, up for adoption, or already placed in a group. Basically you can go ga-ga doing pedigree research, sibling searches, etc etc., especially if you pretend you are an amateur sleuth and are willing to do the digging.

When I took Jack in as a foster, I found his racing kennel's website and since then have been corresponding with his former owner. Not only that, I got in touch with the kennel where he was whelped and trained annnnnddd..... got puppy pictures!!!!

This is the Jackpot of Greyhound sleuthing... getting puppy pictures of your dog. I know, I know... lame. But it's true. Other Greyhound people can attest.

So... without further ado....

Jack's puppy photos!!!

Jack's litter as newborns. There were 3 boys in the litter (Jackhammer, Jet, Jumpin Johnny) and 3 girls (Jitterbug, Jenga and Jupiter):

As young'uns in their pen. Squeeeeee!!!

These are the 3 boys from the litter- Jackhammer, Jet, Jumpin Johnny. Maybe 4-5 months of age?? I'm assuming Johnny, who was registered as the darkest of the litter (black brindle) is on the left. Jack is the one in the middle with the huge smile on his face-- I could tell it was him the minute I saw the picture!

I know, I know-- utter cuteness! I could just plant a big ol' smooch right on all those kissers!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Greyhounds Reach the Beach 2009 (in a Nutshell)

Well, another Greyhounds Reach the Beach event has come and gone. We are back from hot, sunny Delaware and our hotel 30 feet from the ocean, back to crisp, fall Upstate N.Y. This post will be a little recap. We'll categorize it by the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The Bad:

Thursday AM: Getting ready to leave. I have elected to bring Jack-it will probably be my last year at Dewey and he's young enough to walk all over the place. We can walk Dewey, walk to Rehoboth, walk to Silver Lake, walk miles on the beach, walk Cape Henlopen State Park. Lucy and Clifford have arrangements to stay with my parents on a mini vacation. Leaving my best buds makes me feel really guilty but I'm afraid they won't be able to get up the stairs to the second floor hotel room (and there are no elevators) which would really aggravate their arthritis. And I'm worried about all the walking hurting their joints even more. And I'm feeling bad bringing Jack- he's my new dog and I LIKE him a lot but I don't LOVE him yet. I don't fall in love easily- I'm going on a trip with a virtual canine stranger. And my friends Bridget and Trace won't be there, and I love them to pieces and they've shared Dewey with me since 2004. And I'm starting to feel really down in the dumps about the whole dang trip.

Oh yes, you can admit he's practically perfect.

THEN my vet calls as I'm finished packing up the car. Clifford's blood test looks really "great" but there are three values really off. She thinks it could possibly be Bone Marrow Cancer. I get off the phone and spend some time breathing deeply, trying to contain myself before I implode across the ceiling. The Big C? My first thought is, How can blood look "great" but then their be a chance of Cancer? Why would she say those 2 things in the same sentence? Isn't Bone Cancer the most painful and worst cancer? Does that explain Cliff's significant weight loss recently, and his limping?? My second thought is, Shit, there's no way I can go to Dewey now and if I have to euthanize my beautiful Clifford, then I'm going to kill myself. I can't live without him, I can't live without Lucy, and I'm going to have to OD on all those prescription sleeping pills and barbituates I've been squirreling away in my medicine cabinet, quietly piling up, for the past several years. Oh F*ck, my dog is going to die!

And then in the midst of my little breakdown, Mom calls to see if I've left for Delaware yet. I repeat what the vet just told me on the phone and she tells me that two of the values are white blood cell related, it's probably just an infection, etc etc., the vet is just giving worst-case scenario, etc etc. I can tell she's desperate to talk me off the roof and get me the hell out of the house so I don't go into complete breakdown mode. "It's just an infection! It's probably just an infection! White blood cells mean infection!" she says repeatedly. I elect to believe Mom over the vet because it makes me feel better and even though I'm an adult, I still have that nagging mantra running through the far reaches of my brain that "parents are always right." Parents are ALWAYS right. Vets can be wrong, but parents aren't. And Mom works for a doctor, so she knows medical stuff. Mom promises Lucy and Clifford will get special attention and have a wonderful vacation in the country and Dewey is ONLY 4 days, so I should go, have fun, and bond with Jack.

Anxiety attack averted (for now), I can go on vacation.

The Ugly:

(Whoops. Well, they tried.)

Thursday PM: Arrive in Delaware! Here comes Country Bumpkin Jennifer and her clueless teenage greyhound Jackhammer, all excited to see her expensive hotel digs after an excruciating 8-hour drive. She has never stayed in a hotel so expensive ($110 a night!! Holy cow!) and is excited to see the lap of luxury. She walks into her hotel room and frowns with dismay. Everything is in place- 2 big beds, a TV, a bathroom, a fridge- but everything is REALLY shabby. Jen has stayed in a converted flophouse off the Bowery in Southern Manhattan that roughly compared to this room. It looks old, dingy, and well-used. Jennifer calls her Mom to check in on Lucy and Clifford, and her Mom says she isn't paying for a luxurious hotel room, she's paying to stay 30 feet from the beach. Jen agrees reluctantly but will be disappointed over the room for the rest of the trip.

Jack thinks the room blows, too.

Saturday PM: The TV breaks. Jen pushed the "Power" button on the TV and it slips inside the casing and disappears. And the remote control hasn't worked since she arrived so NO TV. Jen begins to panic because 48 Hours Mystery is on at 10 o'clock and she needs her paranoia fix for the weekend. If 48 Hours Mystery is a bust then she watches Lock-Up on MSNBC, where you get to go inside American prisons and hear about how the prisoners get tazered and throw feces and urine at each other. Missing these important shows would be a horrible turn of events. Eventually, after several trips to the front office, Jen gets new batteries for her remote control so at least she can power the TV that way, and it works, but only after maintence people come and take apart the power button area on the TV for her. Phew.

Sunday PM: Jen and Jack go back to the hotel after a long day of beach-walking, shell-collecting, dolphin- and jelly fish- watching, and exploring, only to find their room reaking of cigarettes, which really upsets Jen's sensibilities. The bathroom is especially stinky. The housekeepers never came that day so they wouldn't have smoked in there. Jen then discovers a hole from the bathroom closet (which has no door), inside the wall and INTO the next hotel room, where 2 ladies are sitting and smoking. Jen is taken aback and tapes a newspaper over the gaping hole and tries to turn the room's AC unit on to cool it down and extinuish the smell. Unfortunately the AC won't start. Jen and Jack go downstairs and find nobody in the front office, with a sign attached to the door saying the hotel closed that morning for the season. No one is around anymore until next summer, and all the ammenities are turned off. WTF? Jen is leaving the next day so in the grand scheme of things it really doesn't matter, but STILL. How wierd. The hotel is still full of people. Why would management close up and leave when guests were still there? And what if one of the women next door had crawled through the hole into her hotel room at night and butchered her and Jack? With no Front Desk Management there, nobody would find her dead carcass for weeks! After many scenarios run through Jen's head, she finally comforts herself with the fact that she could probably out-fight the women next door because they don't seem very agile. Plus, she has a dog with her and that always counts for something, even if it's a hound.

The Good:

This part is best shown in pictures. :o)

We saw such beautiful skies... and Jack got to see the ocean for the first (?) time.

On Friday and then again on Sunday, we watched pods of dolphins just off shore, swimming leisurely south.

Of course it was a greyhound event, and we met dozens and dozens of other greyhounds on our travels around Dewey and Rehoboth beaches.

Align CenterBrindle sandwich

Vendors around the villages and down the boardwalk had out bowls of water and biscuits for the dogs...much to Jack's delight!

Jack got a winter coat to prepare him for upstate NY winters! And he and Clifford got Heart Throbs, which are THE best durable stuffed animal I've ever found (and really cute to boot)...

...And we bought Lucy and Clifford great big dog-biscuit lollipops which they really enjoyed when we got home! Yum!

We loved walking the beach and saw dozens of jellyfish, several species...quite amazing creatures.

...and we spent hours combing for shells and smooth ocean rocks.

And last but not least!!...

The art show was successful. I sold three of my six pieces, and my auction print went for a higher price than I valued it at (all benefits going to the greyhound health program at OSU!). It wasn't a total sellout like last year, but considering the economy and the fact that there seemed less greyhound folks at the beach than last year, I'm really pleased. The folks who bought my work seemed so pleased with it, and that made ME happy. And those who stopped by to ask about Lucy and Clifford, and say nice things about linocuts, and support myself and the other artists in the show- THANK YOU!

And I'll leave you with one last picture... the beauty of coastal Delaware.

We ended up having a pretty swell time. Now it is back to "real life"- my 9-5 job, investigating Cliff's blood values, dealing with the squirrels that chewed a new hole into my house while I was gone and made a nest in my kitchen ceiling. We have a really tall lawn to mow, a house to clean, a really sandy car to clean out, a grandpa who was just put into hospice. We will have new hiking adventures, new projects around the house, and new art to make! It will be interesting to see what the rest of autumn brings.