Where it belongs

December 29, 2006 by

optimist_framedIt has taken a while, too long some might say, but The Optimist’s Suit finally hangs on the wall.

I actually got the picture framed some time ago, as quickly as I could afford to. I was driven to do this in part because I was terrified that the print might get damaged, but also out of the simple recognition that it deserved to be framed.

There are some people I know who run a small art gallery, people that I have entrusted to frame other pictures of mine. So I took The Optimist’s Suit to them.

You can see here, I hope, just what a wonderful job they did. The frame is square – echoing the shape of the print – but the print is not mounted squarely in it. A little more space at the bottom of the mount than at the top. A visual trick that apparently makes the print look more centred that if it actually *were* centred.optimist_framed_3

We chose (I say we, because I trust them to carefully persuade me to choose what is right rather than what I might like) – we chose a frame that is not plain wood, but rather “distressed” with paint washes. Cream, I guess, with the edges picked out in a graphite colour. Somehow I rather think this suits the found images feeling that I get from Maggie Taylor’s work. And if you look at the background in the print, you can see that it, too, is “distressed”. So I think this works, and I hope that you do, too.

The shape of the frame, the contours of it, this echoes (or perhaps, reinforces) the mount in which the print was set. And I was persuaded to opt for UV-resistant glass, all the better to protect the print.

All in all, I am really pleased with the result. That it wasn’t cheap to do is entirely appropriate, given the immense value that this picture holds for me.

optimist_framed_2It took a while to get it hung. Some of you will know, some of you won’t, but my life turned upside down and I am living something of a temporary existence right now. In between everything. And for a while, that in-betweeness was almost overpowering, so the print sat, safely wrapped, and waited for me. But now, I am starting to get a sense of moving on to whatever comes next, so…

So, finally the print hangs. It hangs next to the place where I use my computer – my connection with you, my astounding friends. And next to the place where I try, slowly, to remember how to write.

I’m still in that place, that in-betweenness, but now the picture hangs beside me. I have two windows in my room: through one, the sunlight falls, and cheers my day. Through the other, I see a winged man, and he reminds me of what I was, and of what I am yet to be.

Thank you. With all my heart, thank you.


Exercise Compassion

August 30, 2006 by

The Optimist's Suit (small)It has been a week since the parcel arrived. A week in which I have patiently allowed myself to discover the words with which I might thank you all for the enormity of the gift that you have given.

Patience hasn’t come up with anything, and I have to reluctantly conclude that no rich eloquence is going to get me out of this. Neither, given the cruelty of the distance that separates us, am I able to hug you (each and all) and convey, without words, just how very much this means to me.

I am still stunned. Still overwhelmed. And still inadequate to the task of even starting to thank you for what you have done.

I tried, just yesterday, to relate to someone the story of what had happened, to try and tell of the enormity of it all. But I couldn’t. I broke down in tears: not tears of sadness, but of joy, of awe, and tears of exasperation at the realisation that there simply are no thanks equal to this act.

“Excercise Compassion” – that is what is says on the box, and you, my friends, have exercised compassion in spades.

Some of you will know that this wondrous gift has arrived at a significant moment. My life is changing in ways that I could never have imagined, and the chapter entitled “Cloudhopper” is closing. But as this one closes, another opens and (as one of you so poignantly pointed out) this next chapter, whatever it brings, will be filled with friends and memories of the highest order.

The picture will, I assure you, be framed as quickly as possible. It is so precious, and I know an artisan who will create a frame worthy of your care and compassion. Once framed, it will hang beside me when I write, wherever I write. It will remind me that I have friends beyond measure, and it will remind me just what wonder and beauty life has in store for me. Never was “The Optimist’s Suit” more apt, and every bit as appropriate for my new life as it was for Cloudhopper’s.

Cloudhopper is not a real person. But I am.

I am a real person, and I cry real tears. For I have the most wonderful friends that any person could wish for.

Thank you. Thank you so very much.

Did I dream it?

August 25, 2006 by

It is early morning here, and I am just about to sneak off, tea in hand, to where I dreamed that I put a parcel. I dreamed that the most beautiful picture was in it, and that it had appeared, magically, from all of my friends (my very naughty and very dear friends) around the world.

I am prepared for it to have been a dream, but if it is not, then I simply do not know how to say that which I need to say. Forgive me, please, if it takes me a wee while to work it out. :o)

[Later the same day: Nope, it wasn’t a dream. But it still hasn’t sunk in. Not at all.]

O v e r w h e l m e d .

August 24, 2006 by

Overwhelmed is the best word I can think of to describe the effect our little birthday package had on Barry.

As he surveyed the parcel he smiled at the postal stamp…

‘Exercise Compassion’.

He turned it over and started reading the multitude of labels glued to the front with adhesive from both sides of the Atlantic.

His expression became serious when he learned the value from the customs declaration – but the biggest reaction came when he read the name Maggie Taylor and I seem to remember he ran indoors muttering…’isn’t that the name of my Avy’s artist?’

He emerged with renewed vinegar vigour ( and a sharp knife) and carefully

opened the wrapping.

Time passed with a series of expressions ranging from amazement, wonder, pleasure, bewilderment, embarassment, glee, immobility, more glee interspersed with declarations like…’ I don’t believe it’… ‘that explains why so-and-so sent that email’….’gerroff cat!’…..etc.

He found the pages of all your sentiments neatly printed out on clean white paper on a modern printer in black ink. Font probably Aerial or Times Roman Bold and size about 12 or 14. Really easy to read. But he couldn’t.

You see, there were two overpowering obstacles.

One was the natural large volume of tears welling up in his eyes which changed the focal length and made it impossible to focus on the words.

The other was the growing enormity of the realisation that so many friends had secretly and successfully contrived to embark on an adventure so typical of himself to bring about a moment of pleasure which will last for ever because the choice of gift was based upon a knowledge of that person gained only with time and which is clearly an expression of love, friendship and affection so terribly important in life and yet so elusive.

I left our friend deep in thought, wonderfully elated, and struggling to regain his focus so he could properly savour every word written from our hearts to him on the paper held in one hand, whilst the other was busy keeping his cat off The Optimist’s Suit.

I’m lost for words.

August 24, 2006 by

cloudhopperI will have something to say, you can be very sure of that. I may have a lot to say. But for now, I am quite simply lost for words.

And I am not ashamed to tell you that I am crying.


It has arrived !

August 24, 2006 by

It has arrived!

The precious parcel will soon be in HIS hands.

I’ll share the moment with you all here….just a little while longer……


Ready, set

August 24, 2006 by

Guys, time to quit the foot tapping.

We’ve got THE great news for you: Gasballon paid the custom taxes and set our “meeting” with Barry.

In his own words:

I’ve sent Barry an ambiguous email asking for some help with a *photographic project* tomorrow. If he rings tomorrow, I’ll ask him to wear his favourite shirt.

But it will be soon if not tomorrow morning. I’m getting very nervous. I think there will be a lot of tears.

Think of us Cla. We’ll be thinking of all of you.


As soon as we get the date set, we’ll let you guys know.

Now, after buying the print, we received two kind contributions: U$ 30,00 from Lightchaser and £ 20.00 from Ron. So we have around U$ 67 and some cents to make up for the taxes, which stood around the U$ 200 mark (£ 108).

We would need some extra tiny help from those of you who still can contribute. Whatever we get goes to gasballoon.

We are finally there, people, all of us.

A big box flies across a big ocean…

August 14, 2006 by

proz.jpg …and the print from Maggie will soon be “home.”

I had been away for a few days, and when I returned to see it here waiting for me, I was both excited and nervous as I sat holding it. I thought of the effort it took to actually get it here, of everyone involved, of Cloudhopper and most importantly, the very important task which was now in my hands.

To carefully open it, include the last messages to CH and then make sure it found it’s way to the UK to Robin’s mailbox for the *final delivery.*

When everything was taken care of, I placed the box in the passenger seat of my car and drove it to the post office. The girl there, Karen, made sure the box was fully insured and traceable – just in case. I could not stress to her enough just how important and valueable the contents were.

And now, we all sit in anticipation of the day it is to arrive. “Monday or Tuesday,” she said.
Let’s all cross our fingers and toes that she was right and it shows up early this week so that we may celebrate the conclusion of this most wonderful and magical experience.

CH said to me on a few occasions that “it is time for Cloudhopper to fly.” And indeed he has. I can only hope, as I said in my message to him which is inside the box, that this gift serves to remind him of the wonderful friends and happy memories he has made over the last few years.

A special thank-you to LightChaser for recently contributing to the pool to help cover some of the shipping fees. My Visa thanks you!

And now, a few photos I took in haste before it was shipped.
A nice message: “Exercise Compassion” [stamped on the outside of the box].

-proz; 13 August, 2006

A print on the way

July 19, 2006 by

Finally, the news you’ve all been waiting for (and already received on your SU inbox, probably) along with some other very nice news. First things first, the print is on its way. We sent the amount for the print, U$ 960.00, to Maggie Taylor herself, last saturday. Proz moved heavens since we started contacting galleries and managed to get this wonderful price with her. This is one of the main reasons (along with all the contributions, of course) we managed to get the print at this point. Had we kept with the first gallery we contacted, we’d be still halfway there. So thank you, proz!

After the payment, it took us a couple of days to make the compilation of messages to include in the parcel. ‘Why a couple of days?’ you say, and we’ll answer: we needed to make a nice introduction to the whole thing. Yes, because as much as we already know what’s going on and might believe CH also has some knowledge on it, we need to explain it bit by bit to him. We ended up with a nice 4 page doc with everybody’s messages along with some extras. You can check the whole thing out here. Comments are welcome, but unfortunately, the card is already on the way so there isnt much we can do to change it at this point. But we hope you like it. Chimi sent her message a bit too late, but we’re doing our best to include it in the whole thing. :)

So, before it reaches hops, the print will make two pit stops on its way. First, to proz, in the US, she’ll be responsible for posting our gift internationally along with all the good vibes she can send out. Of course, youll see a very special post here when she does. We’re all very excited to see it.

Then, it’ll go straight to oxfordshire, almost at our target but not quite: gasballoon was picked from many volunteers to hand CH the print (3 people, really, but thats stands for a lot in our parameters) and he will not only do that but register the moment in pictures or anything he comes up with at the moment, and post it here. So be prepared because were in for some very interesting posts in the near future.

We have a last nice surprise to share: when finishing business with Maggie, we sent her the doc with the messages, she printed, read and paid us a visit here, at our blog. And left us a wonderful email afterwards:

OK, the print is ready to go, and I also printed the well-wishes from everyone. I looked at your blog about the whole purchase, and am really impressed. I am not one for logging on or signing in, but thought I would send along the following in case you want to post it to your readership/contributors:

Dear Friends of Hopsicle:

I am delighted and honored that you all purchased “Optimist’s suit” as a gift for your friend. What an original and lovely idea, and I hope that he will enjoy it.

Best wishes,

Maggie Taylor

On a last note, our accountings page is going slow, but its sill going. In case you need to know, we have U$ 0.17 left at our pool.

Have a nice week, y’all.

Our accountings

July 3, 2006 by

So, as you know, I have been terribly busy (and tired), so I cant be as quick as I wanted on the news. But as a preview, you can check our accountings page (also available at the menu on the right). There, you’ll be able to verify the donations, taxes and conversion rates. We have included only the contributions from the first three days, but you’ll get the idea.

We intend to fix the names (and post SU nicks) and find out about Paypal conversion rates, so we can calculate the totals, step by step. We’ll let you know when we get things done, but you can already let us know about eventual mistakes. We’re hoping on having no emails about that, though.

And, as a final note, keep posting your messages to CH via email, but please include “hopsicle” on the subject field so i can track them down. It’ll save me precious minutes when organizing things.

I have a lot of emails and PMs waiting for replies, so, please, be patient with me. I intend to respond you all.

Thank you very much once again and a lovely week to us all.

p.s.: You know what, erin? I also get a slight feeling CH already knows. But, at this point, it really doesn’t matter :)