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  • Writer's pictureKaaren Poole

Drawing for Comfort


I’m having a hard time emotionally because my dear cat, Zeke, is very, very sick. He has been for a while now and it’s been an up and down ride for the past three months. He has several medical challenges, none of the them curable. But he’s been taking medication for each one. They only act as Band-Aids, but they’ve provided relief, in varying degrees, from time to time. The past few days have been bad. He’s barely eating, yet standing by his dish, looking up at me, and meowing. He’s lost a lot of weight quickly. And sometimes it seems like he’s just staring off into space. Tomorrow morning, I’ll make a vet appointment for him and, of course, I’m afraid he won’t be coming back home with me. I just want to do what’s best for him, God help me.


So it’s been nearly impossible for me to do much of anything lately. I had several projects I thought I might work on. I could needlefelt a mouse or make a little ceramic dish with a squirrel on it, or work on a painting of a raccoon that I have the drawing for. But in the end, I couldn’t do any of them. It seemed impossibly difficult to get out the needle-felting supplies, or the clay and all the tools, or the paints. Yet it seemed like some creative activity might provide relief.


So, I decided to visit my art comfort zone, and that’s drawing. It’s probably not good to spend all one’s time in one’s comfort zone. Maybe there’s no or limited growth there. But out comfort zones serve a great purpose and are a blessing. For me in this case, they took my mind off poor little Zeke for whom I could do nothing but be here with him, and provided a view of a happy, lively creature. Thank you, comfort zone!


A few weeks ago I completed a blank book. The cover was drawings of dormice, and it had the title “The Dormouse Diaries.” My intention was to actually keep the diary (or diaries) of one or more dormice in that blank book. So, why not begin now? I’d already written the first entry. (By the way, I decided to draft the written entries on the computer then copy them to the diary, as I find it much easier to write that way than by hand. My thoughts just seem to flow better when I can get them down quickly. Then, I’d copy it into the diary later where I knew what, if any, drawings would go with it.)


Here's the little drawing I decided to do, and the double page with the diary entry on the right is at the top of the blog. For the drawing, I was working from a source photo I found on the internet, but I had to change it somewhat to make it cuter. For example, the head in the photo was turned more upwards so you couldn’t see the eyes. And I added the hazel branch and nut to replace the nondescript branch in the photo.


Here’s the diary entry, which might interest you.


"A day early in the season of Nutfall


There is something I wish I didn’t know. It’s been troubling me greatly, keeping me awake at night—which some might call ‘day’—and tiring me during the day—which some night call ‘night’—with the constant effort to appear and act as I normally do.


I suppose what I think I know could be false. But the knowledge came from a source I judge credible. It was a young red squirrel, Robyn by name, who was passing through as I was playing in the hazel trees. We struck up a conversation, and I could see she was troubled. When I asked her why, she seemed reluctant to answer, but finally did so.


She said she was forced to find a new place to live. She’d grown up in a fine forest of oak and beech and had an idyllic young life there. But one by one the trees were cut down and all the animals were being driven out. Some tried to stay, but it was clear they’d eventually have to go. The area was taken over with houses and stores and carparks and humans beyond number.


As we talked, she poured out her feelings—fear, anger, resentment, sorrow—all signs of deep emotional disruption. And what made it worse was that she and her siblings chose to travel in different directions. No one could convince the others to adopt his or her own view of the best route to safety, and she was as guilty as the rest of stubbornness. As a result, she and all her siblings were now alone and miserable.


I figured she might feel better after expressing her feelings so thoroughly, but now they took me over as well.


As I said, this is something I wish I didn’t know. I could brush it all aside, telling myself she was mistaken or being an alarmist. But she didn’t strike me as someone who reveled in telling tales or wanted to make others afraid. In short, justified or not, I believed her. And I suggested she stay in the hazel grove for a while. The nuts were ripening and there were plenty for all. I hope she will.


Now I have a new task: deciding how to deal with this distressing news. And for that, I look to you, dear diary.


Grace"


 

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