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Archive for November, 2011

People have been asking where the blog has gone, since I’ve been pretty well ignoring it for the past 2 weeks. Long story short, I’ve been feeling too crappy and down and unmotivated to write anything. And then this week the roughest part of the past two weeks happened… heck, it was the roughest part of the past 6 months. We were at a family Thanksgiving in Indiana when we got a phone call and heard that our beautiful, beautiful black cat, Sister Sweater Moonshine, was not in a good place. Jami, one of our housemates, told us that Sister had been missing since the Sunday before, and they’d just recently found her, her tail completely mangled and limping pretty bad. She took Sister to the vet and a very expensive check-up later, we were told that although we could try to get an operation and spend thousands, ultimately she would face a lifetime of pain either way. Eric and I immediately canceled about a week’s worth of shows and drove almost straight for 16 1/2 hours back to Connecticut…

My parents let me choose the teeny black kitten for my 23rd birthday, on our way up to Schefferville in 2009.

Although we didn’t even have a hint of a romantic relationship, I took Eric’s suggestion for the “Moonshine” part of her name. She was the most beautiful little black kitten, with amazing hair-like fur and eyes that flickered between smokey blue, brilliant green, and deep yellow.

When I first started teaching in Schefferville my parents had to leave for a month or so, and I was left in their big house all alone. I’d leave for work around 7:20 am where I’d struggle through learning how to handle a classroom full of special needs teenagers, but when I’d get home close to 6:00 pm Sister would literally run right into my arms. She’d sit on my lap and eat dinner off my plate, drink from my glass, and jump onto my shoulders whenever I was bent over some artwork.

One of my favorite things she’d do was sleep with me, and help me feel safe in that big house all alone. She’d would curl up on my shoulder and slept with her face completely pressed flat against my check. Such a strange little thing. She was also the only cat I’ve ever known that would crawl under the cover to sleep with me.

One day I came home from teaching to find her like this:

This photo inspired the birthday gift I made for Eric’s 24th birthday while he was in Korea: since he loved kittens so much and had a special attachment for Sister (seeing as he helped name her) I made a book all about Sister’s adventures while I was away at work for the day.

(FYI, this book is available on-line.) Because of Eric helping to name her and because of the birthday book, Sister became a large part of Eric and I’s relationship with each other.

She just seemed to always love to be near me. A few times, she even slipped into the bathtub and paddled to me as I took a bath, because she wanted me to hold her. Such a strange little cat.

I left Sister in the care of my parents when I took off for New York and then Korea and then the first Pocket Vinyl tour in 2010. I didn’t see her for 8 whole months, and I was so worried that she would forget all about me. Eric was certain she never could, and I was thrilled to meet up with her in Connecticut again to discover that she did know me and loved me still! Eric drove Sister and I up to Quebec City in August 2010 where I then flew with her back up to Schefferville and we again found that we were each other’s only company again.

Back to her rushing to meet me after work and her snuggling next me me while I slept. Eric moved up to Schefferville and Sister went on to keep him company, to tromp all over my parents’ house with their cat Misty, to snuggling up with Sammy and Pippin when we locked her out on the porch and it got chilly. It seems every memory I have from living in Schefferville these past few years, even if they don’t directly involve her, she was always present. Snuggling and on the end of my bed or watching me with her deep yellow eyes.

And even though she’d aged in the year and gotten mature, she still loved so much, and always enjoyed some good playtime.

(You can see where I wrote more about that time here.)

She was such a comfort, and one of the things I missed the most during my last month in Schefferville this past spring.

When I finally moved down to CT this past summer, Eric and I were a bit too busy with wedding plans to notice Sister too much, and it was just a few days before the wedding that we felt like she was getting a bit fatter…

A few weeks after the honeymoon, close to my 25th birthday, Sister gave birth to 8 beautiful teeny little kittens, all completely black just like her!

We were with her the entire three hours it took her to give birth to all of them, helping along the way however we could.

I was impressed with her strength. And she was a good mom, even if she was a little crazy (like moving half of the kittens to random spots around the room at night and eating all their special kitten food when we were trying to ween them).

Sadly, the littlest runty kitten, that Eric and I had nicknamed Geppetto, didn’t survive past a month.

One kitten, that we nicknamed Virtue (after the Weakerthans’ song) and we made a Pocket Vinyl music video to, was the spitting image of Sister as a kitten.

We couldn’t keep any, but almost all the kittens went to friends of ours, so we could visit them again if we wanted (and we actually have a few times). Sister seemed to get agitated whenever a kitten left, and would take out some aggression on my brother’s Golden Retriever.

I love how proper she was. So sophisticated, like you should feel privileged just to get to pet her.

Eric and I drove all day Saturday, and when we arrived in CT around 1:30 am, we couldn’t sleep for another couple hours, because of how devastated we felt for Sister and how we wanted to spend as much time with her as possible. I won’t get into details, but it was very very gruesome. The vet believed she’d been run over. Her pelvis was cracked in numerous places and her tail was completely unusable. She was on a lot of different pain meds, but we only had enough for a few short days, and it was obvious we were just keeping her alive.

I think the hardest part was how she recognized Eric and I when we found her. I carried her from the basement up to our bedroom, and she purred constantly, despite her pain.

She was still so alive. She could love, she purred with us, she stretched out as we stretched her belly, she even growled at us when we tried petting her while she was eating.

How unfair is it that we need to choose whether or not a being gets to keep on living or needs to die? Eric and I had to keep reminding each other that it was the only possible option, but it hurt so much to realize that we would decide when she left this life.

Eric and I brought Sister to the vet Monday morning. The vet and her assistant were really wonderful; they’d been the ones who had looked at her injuries originally, and they assured us that we were doing what was best for her. I know both Eric and I really needed that confirmation. The assistant gave her a sedative and left us alone with her. She purred until she lost consciousness, and we were the last two she saw, so we at least know that she went peacefully knowing that we loved her so much. The vet came in and gave her the final shot as we held onto her, and then she was gone.

We buried her in the backyard, next to her runty kitten, Geppetto.

We miss her so much. Every creak in the floorboards, every time a light gust of wind moves our bedroom door, we keep expecting it to be her. I expect to see her sitting at the top of the steps, or laying on the edge of the bed when I wake up. It hurts much more for the both of us then we ever thought it would. I guess I really don’t know much about Heaven or what happens after death, but I can’t help holding onto a hope that we’ll get to see her again. This whole event has also really made me pause more in the sense of the death of any animal…

Goodbye Sister…

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We didn’t know La Crosse, Wisconsin, was a place until Pocket Vinyl played there last night, at the Root Note.

The owners of the Root Note, Corrie and Dane, welcomed us warmly and treated us to a couple amazing crepes (sweet for Eric, savory for me)…

…and some drinks (chai for me and beer from Dane’s own recipe for Eric) while we waited for our set to start.

Definitely a place you need to check out if you’re ever in this part of Wisconsin. A jazz group plays ever Tuesday night, and our set followed them.

I love this stage. The whole place is just frickin’ awesome. Eric and I played a longer set, kind of like the one from the night before, and I got to work on a slightly more complex painting again. Here it is, with the girl who won the bidding:

As we were packing up some exchanges were made and Dane ended up offering up the living room at his place to sleep in! He lives in this huge old Victorian-style house with a bunch of other people. Eric and I were so grateful for the offer; we slept great and the house was just so cool.

After getting up Eric and I headed back over to the Root Note; Dane and Corrie had asked me the night before if I could leave some permanent art in their shop. They paid me to do whatever I wanted with the side of a big old footed bathtub they had in the front window, that they are using as a pretty unique fish pond.

And, the finished product:

And, the fish:

And, Eric. Booking while I painted:

Special thanks to the Root Nate, Corrie, and Dane for their incredible kindness and everything they did for this little far-from-home touring band.

Tonight, Eric and I are in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing at Acadia Cafe in a few hours. That’s all

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Righto.

Here is Pocket Vinyl‘s next set of tour dates, for anyone who wants a more week-by-week update instead of the cumulative full-tour post.

 

place: The Root Note, 115 4th St. South, La Crosse, WI 54601

date: TONIGHT! Tuesday, November 15, 2011

time: 8:00 pm

 

place: Arcadia Cafe, 329 Cedar Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55454

date: Wednesday, November 16, 2011

time: 8:00 pm

 

place: Big V’s, 1567 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55104

date: Thursday, November 17, 2011

time: 8:00 pm

 

place: Mars Cafe, 2318 University Ave, Des Moines, Iowa

date: Friday, November 18, 2011

time: 8:00 pm

 

place: Uptown Bill’s Small Mall, 730 South Dubuque Street, Iowa City, IA 52240

date: Saturday, November 19, 2011

time: 2:30 pm

 

(Two shows in one day):

place: Mojo’s, 131 W 2nd St, Davenport, IA 52801

date: Saturday, November 19, 2011

time: 7:30 pm

 

(We’ll be taking a 2-day break while we hang out at Eric’s aunt & uncle’s place.)

 

place: LUNA Music Record Store, 5202 North College Avenue, Indianapolis, Indiana 46220

date: Tuesday, November 22, 2011

time: 6:00 pm

 

place: Melody Inn, 3826 N. Illinois St., Indianapolis, In 46208 (We will be preforming for the 3rd Annual Mustache Bash!! So bring out your awesome mustaches for this one!)

date: Wednesday, November 23, 2011

time: 9:30 pm

 

(We’ll be taking a couple days off for Thanksgiving, also at Eric’s aunt and uncle’s, and then we’ll be hitting the road again heading our way back towards the East again. Looking forward to seeing lots of new faces and creating lots of new paintings!)

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Infinitea Teahouse is such a delightful little nook of Eau Claire, and Pocket Vinyl was lucky enough to get a small intimate show there last night…

No, Justin Vernon never showed up (even though Eric joked about it I think in all seriousness he was secretly hoping he would), but they were playing Bon Iver’s latest album while we hung around before the show. This tea house has over 100 different blends of tea! It’s pretty amazing, and definitely the kind of place I’d visit pretty regularly if we lived in Eau Claire.

They also treated us incredibly well, with homemade blueberry smoothie bubble teas (I mentioned in my previous post), delicious hummus sandwiches (homemade hummus too!), and an incredibly flavorful chai/white tea blend I got to sip on during our set. I’ve mentioned before, it’s unusual for venues to give us free food, so of course anything they give us is always welcomed (especially when we’re trying so hard to save every penny we can). But when the food is all homemade and natural, it just makes things so much more awesome, and it really humbles us.

As I said, it was a pretty intimate show, with just a few couples wandering in and out during our extra long set (I think we probably ended up playing for an hour and a half), but as Eric mentioned as we were leaving, it was a good set for our souls. We were able to slow down and relax and just enjoy where we were and who we were with. Sometimes you really need pause like that.

The guy working the shop for the evening was very kind and attentive the entire time, and he bid on the painting and told us he’d be looking to put it up in the shop, which is always really cool.

It was nice to have the longer set, so I could put more into the painting.

From here we head to La Crosse, where we’ll be playing at The Root Note around 8:00 pm; 115 4th St. South, La Crosse, WI. The guy from Infinitea says it’s a pretty awesome coffee shop.

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Last night Eric and I showed up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at around 5:30 pm, for our Pocket Vinyl show that wasn’t scheduled to start until 10:00, at Bremen Cafe.

We were there early because the owner had had some conversation with us prior and decided he wanted to pay me to paint some art on the front of the bar. He e-mailed us some loose instructions, and I pretty much got to work immediately after we loaded in our stuff.

It was funny to paint with such a different setting then how I usually do, but to still have the audience of people sitting at the bar and peeking around to watch me every so often.

To start out the night a band called The Gazettiers stepped up to play. A whole bunch of sound issues kept them from starting right away, so it pushed their set back until almost 11, which pushed us back to where we didn’t even start until almost 12. It was no big deal though, since we didn’t exactly have any other place we needed to be. Plus, the Gazettier guys were really good, and we both really enjoyed their unique set. Shane, their main vocalist, ended up with the painting for the night…

and he was sweet enough to even offer us his living room floor to crash on! We were both so grateful and very humbled.

This morning Shane had taken off for work before we woke up, so we left him a cd as a thank you, and took off driving towards Eau Claire. It took us much longer then a straight shot should’ve taken us however. Neither of us had ever been in Wisconsin before, and we hadn’t really had any time to “see the sights” the night before. And dang, are their sights to be seen on the highway between Milwaukee and Eau Claire!! We saw dozens of water parks, resorts, theme parks of every kind, and more cheese shops then I could count. Ha!

Also, if you’re ever in the state and you stumble across a Brennan’s Market, go to there! We stopped t one purely by accident, thinking it was “just a grocery store” and we wanted to pick up some fruit, maybe a bit of Wisconsin cheese. Well, remember our free sample day in Vermont with Cabot cheese? This was better then that. They had tons of cheese, spreads, crackers and fruits to sample, and we even got talking with an employee who recommended not only some local beers to try (they ad a build-your-own-6-pack of local craft brews!), but also brought out extra samples for us to try and different combinations of different samples that were his favorites. Ha! We ended up getting 2 kinds of cheese, a 6-pack, and some fruits and vegetables.

Oh and also, apparently Wisconsin is the US capitol of giant gimmicky road-side statues.

What an awesome state.

Now we’re in Eau Claire, at Infinitea Teahouse  (112 E. Grand Ave., Eau Claire, WI 54701) where they serve all-natural blended-in-house blueberry bubble tea (that Eric just tried for the first time ever. He looked hilarious suddenly sucking up his first chunk of tapioca!) We play within the hour.

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Chicago

Last night Pocket Vinyl drove over a time change. I have never driven over a time change before, I’ve only ever flown over them. It weirded me out more then I thought it should’ve. We came from South Bend, IN up to Chicago, IL. One one Eric’s old childhood friends, Brent, lives here. We hung out and had an early dinner with him and his fiancée Liz, as well as another childhood friend of Eric’s, Stef, and her husband, Nate, who drove down from Wheaten to see us! It was great.

Eric and I headed out early to find our venue for the night, Miska’s Bar in Wrigleyville.

One of Eric’s friends, Jeff, who’d come out to our DIY show in Toledo, happened to be spending the weekend in Chicago with his wife, so they both came out for our show! And Jeff and Eric played some Ben Folds Five before our set started (Eric and Jeff know each other from a Ben Folds on-line forum).

And as a matter of fact, one of their other friends from that forum showed up to the show as well! Chris is The Uncle Steves, and even though it was all of our first time meeting each other, we (especially Eric) felt like we already knew him. Also, the three of them, Jeff, Eric, and Chris, all realized they had the same haircut:

Brent, Liz, Stef, and Nate also all came.

Annnnd, the other two bands that played after us brought a bunch of people as well! The bar was pretty nicely filled by the time we started, and we got a super nice response from everyone. Stef took a handful of photos during our set. It’s always cool to see the audience’s perspective.

Oh, and Nate & Stef also won the bid on the painting that night.

We had a really great time all hanging out afterwards as well. It was neat too because even though these were, for the most part, very old friends that Eric has known most of his life, they were all fairly new friends for me. It’s fun to get to be a part of this.

Stef took this photo of us outside the bar:

Eric and I stayed at Brent’s place for the night, and Liz made us all an awesome brunch this morning! Eric and I are about to head on towards Milwaukee, where we’ll be playing at Bremen Cafe around 10:00 pm. From here for the next 5 or 6 days, we don’t think we know anyone where we might be able to find a floor to sleep on, so it’ll definitely be getting a bit more adventurous.

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This past Friday, 11.11.11, Pocket Vinyl had a show in South Bend, IN, at Main Street Coffee House.

We got there fairly early and enjoyed some free drinks and desserts (thanks guys!) while I flipped through the 100th issue of Houghton College’s The Drawing Board, that I got when we did our show there last week.

While this was happening, we suddenly and randomly got a phone call from my very awesome friend Journey, to let us know that she’d just gotten engaged!! I couldn’t be happier for her and Nate! They’re so awesome.

Congratulations guys!

For our show Eric’s cousin Tim and his fiancée Donna came, as well as a few of their friends and our old college friend Joel. It was a good show, especially since it was the first one where Eric was really starting to get his voice back. Joel won the painting for the night…

Joel and his new wife Amy had invited us to stay the night at their place, and we all had a really awesome time hanging out until the early morning together. The next day Joel took us on a tour of Notre Dame, where he’s going to graduate school for architecture. The university itself was pretty cool, but Eric and I were so impressed by Joel’s talents at classic architecture at the drawing board.

It was an awesome stop on this tour, and a time when we could pause and appreciate where we were.

 

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