Meet Mitchy Ray Sunshine.

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Our Shady Grove died—and it was a very sad time. I didn’t know I missed her so much—but I did. So, I started to look for dogs often driving to the SPCA to have the dog that was posted online, gone before I got to even say hello. This was multiple years of “almost” getting a new, used dog. So this went on and on—and I wasn’t having any luck. I decided that the only course was to get a puppy and raise it. After some research, I found a great goldendoodle breeder nearby and put money down on a pup and waited. I wont go into detail on that thread, but as everything seems to be—it was not simple.

Kitty came to visit and she participated on an “almost” moment with a rescued havanese/maltese mix who was adorable. But it was “almost” with no cigar. She and I were crushed. So, she started talking it up in NYC to all of her friends.. One friend knew of a dog who was “coming up”—the brother to his dog (also rescued)—and would we be interested. After about a minute, the answer was absolutely- and that is how Mitchy and the Cassettis connected. Only thing is that I needed to drop everything to go get him. And I did.

Mitch (Mitch was named Mitch by his first owner) grew up in Queens, living in a small one bedroom apartment. After meeting him, I was stunned to thing this cuckoo bananas dog lived in a tiny apartment with a very circumspect life. I get ahead of myself.

Kitty’s friend picked him up in Queens and drove him (and Mitchy’s sister for company) to Reading PA where he was visiting family. Kitty’s friend was awesome— trying to get him in some order, trimming hair and getting himin working order. prior to their trip to meet me. I drove down from Tburg—taking a very fun bunny route (not the highway, but the biway) to Reading through coal country. I checked into a hotel in downtown with a convention of the most lovely Christian people—all dressed up and so kind. I had dinner at the hotel bar watching a few of my Christian friends slam a few cocktails—and waited. At 9 p.m. the phone rang and the message was for me to be downstairs for the pickup/drop off. Up pulled this little orange car filled with two over energetic airedales —straining at leashes. I handed over the rehoming fee and was handed a leash and off my new friends went leaving me with this maniac, Mr Mitch. He was unlike anything I had ever seen—-vigilant, funny and smart. Too smart.

Mitch and I went up to the room at the hotel —I had set it up with food/water etc. and he was franticly checking all the windows and doors (and mirrors as they are kind of doors) all night. Poor devil—it was this circle of windows and doors, windows and doors and then strange sounds with this strange lady. It was not a restful night for either of us. Morning came at 5 a.m when I told Mitch we were going home, and we did. He got in the car and was stunned at the smells as we drove through the countryside to the lake. As soon as we got home, I got him set up—and clipped to a long leash around a chairleg on the porch, both of us passed out with the lake breezes wafting over us. That was day one.

Starting some sketches.

I got a crazy project. Kee RAY Zee…

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The way it worked was I got an email from a man who I never had met—for a project I never ever would have thought would cross the transom of my office. But it did. And, I have rearranged my life to do the work. I negotiated a pretty impressive contract (in another language), figured out how to get paid, processes and tools to use to make the project flow be smoother….It is a bit stunning. I still have hair on my head, and can hold a pencil despite the backdraft…but truly it has given me life and a little more spirit than I have had in at least 4 years.

I cannot tell you about the work, but maybe a few snapshots from the sketches will humor you. Things to know are…1. be an expert or known for a subject matter and tag the crap out of the illustrations. 2. own that topic…so that when the topic is searched…your name and images come forth. Truly. That is how this client found me. And the nutty thing is, that it works that I am both a designer and an illustrator for this work—- the discipline and knowledge of how to be “in brand” is lapping over into the illustration work. The client has a very specific palette—very definitive signature elements that they love seeing it surface in the illustrations. That plug and play approach that branding has instilled in my thinking really makes that so easy—and fluid. And for that, I am grateful.

Spring is here. Mitchy is here (and you havent met him)—and life is continuing in a sweeter way. For that, I am thankful and so glad. I am back from a deep dark hole….and so pleased to be back.

To put it mildly...I have been in a funk. A deep, dark, down the bottom of the well funk that has been the end of a trail of sorrows. It was bad. Really bad.  A "don't get out of bed" bad. A "eat, work, eat, sleep" life with little in the way of sparkle or shine. No laughs. Nothing to laugh about. It was a demon snowball I was stuck in the center of--rolling down the hill, frozen in the cold, singularity of self, and stuck in the heart of frigid sameness. And it was a long time coming--and equally as long a time to unfreeze out of. And I am not fully freed--but at least a little of the sun is peeking through as the time and light is working its way into my heart and head.

This was a time of fixed stares and no interest in reading, researching or drawing. This was a time of knocking on doors that never open. This was a time of silence--not the comforting silence of thought and contentment--but metallic silence of your own prison. It has been a time of reassessment, of the "new"normal. It has been a time of looking at what was real--and seeing it all anew. It has been a time of trial for me--and though I may have appeared docile, I have struggled mightily with much of my lessons--but have come to at least see them, acknowledge them and to some degree accept them--maybe not all of them with joy in my heart, but nonetheless--accept them so as to be able to move forward.