Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Puddin" - How it all Started


This is "Puddin". He's the bear that started me on this wild and crazy ride I've been on for so many years. He's also where I met my dearest friend Sally oh so long ago. Over twenty years ago, my husband I and were driving down the street and saw an incredibly cute sign outside a shop. Curious, we pulled in, and that's where we met Sally and were introduced to the wonderful world of bears - artist bears. I had never seen so many beautifully crafted bears, and I had never experienced artist bears. The oh so cute lady behind the desk was about my age, and obviously had exquisite taste in the things she carried in her shop. She spent what I'm sure seemed like an indeterminable amount of time with us. She explained what mohair and alpaca were, told me about how individual artists designed and created their own bears, each bearing a signature look instantly recognizable to the trained eye. More importantly, she explained to me why the bears cost the prices they did. The mohair alone, was oh so expensive - not to mention the artistry behind each bear. Of course, I long for those prices today.
Before I realized what had happened, I had fallen in love with those bears - all of them. But, like puppies or kittens in a litter, you always find a favorite. After several return trips to the store, never buying a bear, but always enjoying the conversations, we found we were so much alike, it was a bit scary. We both had sons, who were a lot alike. We were close to the same age, and had similar interests. I started filling in at the store on occasion, and in lieu of pay - saved my "hours" to purchase a bear. "Puddin" was the one. I had looked at some many faces, and stroked so many chins over the course of a couple of months, but he was "the one". I was so thrilled when the day came that I could take him home.

Months later, I was participating in a show in Houston, as I was now making my own bears. I found out that the artist who had made "Puddin" was going to be there, and I could get her to sign his footpad. I was shy about approaching her, but with assurance that she would be happy to sign the bear I went over and asked. She was such an incredibly sweet woman, and I was so glad I didn't chicken out and leave without meeting her. Not so long after that, she stopped making bears, and I knew I had nearly missed my chance to meet her and tell her how much I loved her work.
Hundreds of bears later, "Puddin", is, by far, still my favorite. He sits in my grandfather's old ladder back chair, with the cowhide bottom. The seat is slick now with no cow hair left, but seeing "Puddin" sitting in every time I pass by brings back memories. Like the chair bottom, worn with time, "Puddin" serves as a reminder of how we all slowly change over time, sometimes without even realizing it. He sags a bit more than he used to, but is still as wonderful as ever.
Sally and I are still friends, and have had many, many adventures together. I'm sure we have many more in our future. Just think - a friendship of so many years due to a bear named "Puddin".

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