Thank you to everyone who visited my Etsy shop this weekend! Several of the orders were shipped off yesterday, several more this afternoon, and the remaining few will be mailed tomorrow. :)
I had an interesting exchange at the post office yesterday.
I typically purchase my shipping mailers directly from my local branch, and as I was standing there sliding wrapped magnets and bookmarks into cardboard envelopes, a gentleman joined me at the back counter.
He began addressing his mail, but then stopped and asked me,
“How do you spell ‘Bethlehem’?”
I gave him the spelling ~ twice ~ but he still struggled to remember the second “H”, so after a beat, I handed him one of my finished envelopes and pointed to my own address.
I live on Bethlehem Court.
So does this gentleman. Surprise! We were neighbors.
Then he asked me for our zip code. LOL!
He looked at me at last, and said,
“Aren’t you the lady with the two young children, who walks her dog every morning?”
“Haha, yes. That would be us.”
“I’m the guy who lives on the corner with the small dog.”
“Oh, okay. Wow, well it’s nice to meet you.”
I had no idea what to say to the dog-owning stranger who was my neighbor, but I found it ironic (and slightly embarrassing) that I was packaging CAT ART ~ because I am a cat artist ~ while this man recognizes me as “the lady with the dog”.
When did I become The Dog Lady?!
I’ve never had a dog before in my life. I grew up in a strict two-cat family.
Childhood experiences with aggressive dogs had left me determined to never own one. In my mind, even the friendliest dogs were ticking bombs waiting to unleash their teeth of fury on me.
My children, on the other hand, have always been fascinated by dogs. I was able to make excuses about our lease not allowing for dogs, but when they learned we were buying our home, “adopting a dog” became a hot topic. Even my husband was in favor of getting one, as he’s grown up around dogs and assured me that most breeds are lovable and loyal.
I was outnumbered when a friend of mine shared a dog’s profile on Facebook, who was in need of a new home.
I found myself driving to Westminster to pick up Harley, a six-year-old pit-bull mix.
Seriously?! A Pit-bull.
Of all the dogs imaginable, I never would have expected to bring a reputed killer breed into my house.
However, my friend assured me that this dog was gentle with children and cats. She had known his former owner, who was suffering from health problems and could no longer care for him. She had spent time getting to know Harley and vouched for his good behaviour.
I put my faith in her word, and crossed my paws that I wouldn’t regret it.
Harley must have sensed my doubts, because he latched himself onto me like a toddler, licking my face at our first meeting and nuzzling me all the way home in the car.
At home, he waited for permission to get onto the couch, and once granted, he curled up beside me.
Somehow I have become his chosen person; he looks to me when it’s dinnertime, and I am the lucky one who walks him to the park as often as weather permits. I wait while he sniffs and pees on every stump and shrub, digs in the earth a bit, and continues to sniff the leaves.
Our walks usually last an hour or more, and have become something I look forward to… unless it is cold and wet. :P
The cats were naturally less than thrilled by Harley’s arrival. They hid in our bedroom for a full two days, prompting me to move their litter-box and food bowls upstairs as well.
Merlin was the first to venture downstairs and assess the situation. Dominic is a scaredy-cat, and would quickly exit the room when he heard the click-click of dog claws coming. Merlin would stand his ground and hiss in defiance.
It was interesting to watch as they adjusted to his presence. They are still not on speaking terms with him, but they tolerate being in the same space, even sharing the bed together.
I caught Dominic sniffing Harley’s face last night while the dog slept! :)
There are moments when I see him yawning or chewing on his rope toy, and my eyes are drawn to the sharp rows of teeth. He still makes me nervous.
I tell myself that he probably makes potential attackers nervous, too. Although if anyone tried breaking into our house, they would only need to toss him a biscuit and he would happily wag his tail and invite the thief inside.
Adopting a pit-bull has been enlightening for me, although it has left me wide open to unsolicited advice and warnings about “good dogs gone bad”.
But I also have had strangers stop me on the street to compliment my dog and pet him.
It is almost as if dog-owners are in a special club, and whenever they see you walking yours, they nod and greet you as a member. With secret handshakes and passwords.
The $1,000,000 question is whether (and when) I will begin painting dogs…..
We shall see. ;)
Holidays are a low-key affair around here. My husband and I rarely entertain guests, and my relatives, who are scattered across the country, haven’t held a reunion in over a decade (that I am aware of). I spent my Turkey Day not eating turkey with my kids, cats, and our newest family member, Harley the pit-bull.
My Thanksgiving tradition has been to prepare an anti-Thanksgiving meal. In the past, we’ve had spaghetti dinners, hamburgers, lasagna, and I think one year, we ate peanut butter sandwiches! This year, I cooked fried rice and chicken with stir-fry vegetables. :)
Having worked for over a decade in retail, I dread leaving the safety of my house this time of year. Most of you probably feel the same way. Nobody enjoys dealing with crowds of frustrated and frazzled shoppers, least of all the employees who are trying their best to accommodate everyone with a smile.
For the past several years, I worked for Walmart, each and every holiday, including 12-hour shifts on Black Friday. We were the human shields who guarded pallets of televisions and computers from the onslaught of people who were willing to do just about anything to get their hands on them.
And while my store’s clientele were not as ruthless as the folks in YouTube videos posted early Friday morning, it was still crazy enough to make me question my values… and my employer’s values.
I worked at least one Black Friday while pregnant, and remember praying that I wouldn’t be shoved into the freight, or trampled upon, in someone’s blind, obsessive scramble over a $50 gadget. :/
I’ve worked in various jobs and do understand that retail is what it is. I never expected to be treated with the same level of respect as, say, a doctor or teacher… when my duties simply consisted of stocking, cleaning, and building displays of canned tuna. But as the years went by, it felt like we employees were seen as something less than human.
I felt degraded, demoralized, and worthless. And I couldn’t stand what I stood for when wearing that uniform.
After nine years of riding the roller-coaster, from seasonal bakery help, to full-time grocery manager, to part-time stocker (and part-time stay-at-home mom), back to full-time bakery manager… I finally stepped off in late August, and quit for good.
I knew my life would change. I was excited and scared. My husband was supportive and scared.
But while I traded a steady paycheck for the uncertainty of becoming a starving artist, or worse, a housewife with unrealistic expectations of turning her painting hobby into a career…. what I gained from taking a leap of faith was far greater than any risk.
I found my purpose and my passion. I found my pride, and my path. As cheesy as that sounds, it is the truth.
If you had asked the 18-year-old Tara what she planned to do with her life, she would be uncertain. Heck, she couldn’t even narrow down which college she wanted to attend, and when she finally applied and was accepted to a performing arts school, she dropped out during the first week.
Actor, writer, teacher, baker, bookshop owner… my dreams were all over the board. However, one constant thing in my life was my obsession with cats, and somehow I stumbled into my future when I began painting them all dressed up.
Something “clicked” inside, and this skeptical girl who struggles to make commitments knew that This Was It.
This “cat art” thing is the career path I am destined to walk.
It has taken me over 30 years to figure out who I am supposed to be, and where I fit into this world.
And although I recognize that I am still at the beginning of a very long journey, with many skills still to learn, and many experiences to face… I have confidence such as I’ve never felt before. Ever. In my life.
This Thanksgiving, my husband had to work providing security for the retail store hosting Black Friday. And I spent the evening at home with our kids, watching movies and cutting out dozens of bookmarks, and eating our chicken fried rice.
I reminisced about all the Black Fridays of holidays past, and recognized the stress that I felt this year was a motivating kind of pressure to improve myself. Far removed from the beaten-down and defeated stress that I felt last year.
I owe so much thanks to the wonderful customers who have supported me in the last few years, and even in the last several months after quitting my job. They have made it possible to continue doing what I love for a living, with no regrets.
My family and friends who encourage me every day, I owe them also. I hope that by improving and achieving my goals, that I will continue to make them proud.
In the spirit of consumer madness, I am running a Black Friday sale in my Etsy shop through Monday. (It originally ended on Sunday, but I decided to carry it through into “Cyber Monday”).
Inviting you to shop from home in your pajamas, while I fulfill your orders in MY pajamas, is the best way that I can celebrate my thankfulness!
I have the most purr-fect job in the world, thanks to all of you!
Happy Holidays, Everybody! =^,,^=