Monthly Archives: October 2017

Stuffed Puppy’s Final Trip: Australia

Robin botie of ithaca, New York, photoshops her daughter Marika Warden's stuffed animal before taking it to Australia to be cremated in a ritual to celebrate love and life.This is Puppy. She is going to Australia. Her third trip there. This time she will not be coming back.

Stuffed Puppy. A gift to my daughter shortly after she was born, Puppy spent almost every night of Marika’s twenty years tucked in the crook of her arm. Every time Marika left home for more than a day she took Puppy. Camp, vacations, weekends with friends, hospitals, and a year of college. In 2010, with cancer in remission, Marika probably brought Puppy to Australia. Puppy traveled there with me in 2012, as I scattered Marika’s ashes.

Puppy was always key to my communications with Marika. My words came out differently when they channeled through Puppy. Puppy didn’t say, “Don’t you have homework to do?” She said, “Can I do homewawk wiv you?” Years later, I would regularly fish Puppy out of hospital beds and pose her so Marika, returning from radiation, would find Puppy on top of the bed, hunched over a tea mug with napkin and cookie, like Puppy had a secret life of her own. Like I was leaving my daughter a kiss when we were no longer on touching terms.

Ragged love-worn Puppy. With her brownish matted fur and long floppy ears, she often got mistaken for a rabbit. She looks kinda haggard now, threadbare in places. From her little alter in the middle of the house, she watches me, with a look in her shiny plastic eyes like she doesn’t quite trust me. Like, she’s wondering if I’ll make good on my promise to “return” her to her girl.

“Okay, what a dope, what the heck,” you’re saying, “It’s just a piece of stuffed polyester.” But no, Puppy is a part of myself I wasn’t able to let go of the first time I went to Australia. And now, five years later, I am going back, ready to cremate Puppy and toss her ashes into the sea. Hopefully, there will be other mothers to celebrate with me. Maybe they, too, will have read Margery Williams’ The Velveteen Rabbit to their children, sniveling with tears spilling down their faces when they got to the part where the little boy’s stuffed bunny gets tossed out to a rubbish pile. And maybe they’ll understand that I need to wrap up Puppy’s time here on earth because I can’t bear to think of my daughter’s beloved stuffed animal being heartlessly dumped into the trash after I die.


What did you hang onto for its sentimental value? What brings you comfort?

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No Time Out From Heartbreak

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a cow trapped in the piping of a dairy products facility.There are some things in this world I am never going to understand.

Like massacres. Killing. Cold-bloodedness. And inhuman cruelty.

Last week too many mothers had their hearts broken. Their stories and the faces of their children filled my head even after I turned off the TV. I tried to escape the images of their agony, but wherever I turned, in Wegmans, in the woods, Netflix, Facebook, …their despair followed me.

It was too difficult to write about people senselessly losing their lives. And the tormented families and friends left behind. Memories of my own pain resurfaced each time I tried.

So I sequestered myself in the quiet corner of my living room, in the depths of my computer and the distraction of Photoshop, thinking I could paste together a pure fresh collage on a blank canvas. There was no escaping. Even there, in the limitless layers of Photoshop, I found traces of my own heartlessness.

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What do You Google? And Why?

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a silkscreened design she made for Silk Oak, to illustrate grieving cats. Thinking about Life Before Cell Phones used to give me a headache. But now it’s Google, the Internet search engine for quick easy retrieval of information, that I cannot imagine living without.

Vital information. Like, how to take grease stains out of grout. Like, what do screech owls sound like? Like, what is chermoula and how do you make it without cilantro?

Before Google, I would wonder about something, and maybe try to search for an answer in the library. Most of the time I simply accepted that the world was full of puzzles I’d never solve. There were too many questions one couldn’t ever hope to answer, even with the help of the sharpest librarian. Like, what ever happened to Mark Newhouse, my first boyfriend?

There are things I search for regularly on Google. Like synonyms, and chili recipes. And I google my own name periodically to see what others, who might be googling me, can see. A few times a year I google, Where is Marika Warden? My 20-year-old daughter who died 6 ½ years ago. You wouldn’t think anything could change about her. But every time I search, Google yields different information. Last week, in addition to the regular old obituaries, Google listed a White Pages link for her. When I clicked on it I learned that Marika J Warden, age 27, “Lives” in Ithaca, NY. It noted there were 13 marriage records, 2 divorce records, 1 birth and 1 death record affiliated with her name. It cheered me. Like she’s still somewhere in town, still trying for some Guinness World Record.

You can ask Google anything. Anything! Like, do cats grieve? I did not pose this question. I merely googled ‘grief’ and ‘cats’ to link these two ideas together so I could paste this kitty illustration I designed long ago for Silk Oak (google it) into this blog post. Google instantaneously connected the two, and offered up hundreds of articles on grieving cats. Which led me to wonder, what else could I connect, and why would I even want to connect things like ‘nosebleeds’ and ‘frying pans,’ and what in the world isn’t connected in some way, and why do I feel compelled to keep searching for these things?

So, after much consideration, I have an admission: I don’t google to find information. I do it because it feels good to get immediate responses. Lots of responses. It’s like receiving free gifts. And it connects me in odd ways to the rest of the world. Google confirms I am not alone; people from all over the planet are searching. Which led me to the discovery that I’m not the only one addicted to Google.


What do you google? And why?

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