**The New Old Gallery and the Book**
The new old gallery is coming along. I finally got the outdoor lights correct on the building, and I am slowly doing the landscaping, and sprucing it up. It feels really good to be in my original space. For those of you that don’t remember me being in this space, it was my original gallery I opened in September of 1990. I am the oldest art gallery open to the public in West Texas. I guess Donald Judd was the first. Come see us, we are across the railroad tracks, first building on the left. I have installed one of those “Ring” doorbells so it lets me know when people approach. There is also a number on the door to call or text. I am also putting notes up “On a bike ride.” “Had to go to Alpine.” etc. I am usually a few minutes away or in the silver building directly in back of the gallery.
The retrospective book has slowed down a bit, but the new Big Bend Pictures is coming along great. I have a few more original images to finish up, and then maybe 18 or 19 images we are going to change. I believe it’s going to be beautiful.
I forgot to mention that Sterry Butcher is writing the forward. She and I have done some great stories for Texas Monthly, and I love working with her. Also, she lives in Marfa, and knows most of the people I have photographed, and has a West Texas sensibility. She is a great emotional writer.
**Answer your Letter**
I got a lot of responses last month, some I really need to sit with and respond to. If I have not answered you yet, hang in there. I will.
Our sweet cat Critter died last week. It breaks my heart to write about it, but writing has started to become a way for me to assist my photography and put my feelings and images in a ring box. These monthly emails too, have forced a discipline to write.
17 years ago Danielle Gallo brought us a little black kitten. His hips were sore, and he looked like he had changed the oil on a car, and got some on him. Marci cleaned him up, and he became a member of the family.
We named him Pete Critter, but mostly called him Critter. I called him Itty Bitty too.
He was a fun kitten.
We played hard.
I would form my hand like a claw and put it right above his head and say he’s an itty bitty kitty. Then he would jump at my hand and give me hell.
I had scratches all over my arms.
He was full of himself.
When he was old enough we decided to have him neutered, and I swear he must have sensed it because he was gone for two days, and smelled like alcohol and sex when he came home.
We’ve always let our cats go outside, and in this environment that can be life threatening, but is seems cruel to keep them inside.
In the early days we took him everywhere. He has stayed at the Driskill, The Westin, The Hyatt Regency and travelled the state with us, even to a wedding. He seemed to love going places with us, riding on the dash or in between us on a pillow.
We gave him double love.
Marci would cradle him in her arms and we would pet and rub on him with four hands.
He would purr and purr and purr.
He also would get enough, and want down.
Critter had such a mind of his own. He wouldn’t lay next to you, and if he did, he didn’t stay long. When we would lay on the couch watching TV, he would be at the end of it, taunting us, for it was us that wanted him closer.
This last year he would lay next to me on the pillow. It was so unlike him, and I felt honored.
We both made stairsteps for him so he could climb on the beds.
I think he truly liked seeing us together.
He rarely meeeowed. He would just walk in a direction and we would follow to accommodate his wants or needs.
He drank out of the sink, and would get his head soaked with water. He did this every day.
Critter had all these hidden sleeping nooks. In Marci’s clothes closet, her shoe drawer, my drawer, a basket in the living room, and obvious places, the beds and the couch. I put Lucille’s old chenille bedspread in my drawer for him to sleep on.
He loved being brushed and had a beautiful coat, even at the end. He would raise his head up to the brush and purr. However you could not touch him past the middle of his back. He would growl or scratch you. I guess it was the wound he had as a kitten.
In the last few years we gave pills in the morning with hip joint medicine, and blend soft cat food into a puree'. You could hear him slurp it down.
The end came suddenly and quick.
I was sitting on the back porch watching the sunset. He strolled out and I put him on the table to make his photograph. I was actually photographing him as he started to have a seizure. I was freaked out and didn’t know what to do. I called my vet, and Marci who was visiting her Dad.
I brought him into my bedroom and wrapped him in a towel and blanket. He started seizing every few minutes.
Marci got a hold of the vet, and I took him. It is 60 miles away, and by the time I was half way there he was constantly seizing. I just kept petting him.
The doc put him down and Marci was with me by Facetime. We both could not stop crying.
I petted him all the way home. He was still warm and seemed like he was sleeping.
I drove slow because I didn’t want that drive to end. I wanted to pet him forever.
I buried him so we could see him from our bedroom windows.
It just so happened that the site was where a vein of rock was, so I had to rent a demo drill to break through 3 feet of rock.
Marci and I facetimed the funeral, and put him to rest.
Pets are family members, and so hard to watch them age. It is said that a dog or cat ages 7 to 1 to a human. That means every day is a week to a pet.
Now every day he’s been gone seems like a week.