Puffy the Basketslayer

This is a rather a long post. So if you got the time, kick off your shoes and put your feet up. Or save it for when you have time. 

First off, I wrote this post Friday night after posting the weekly “five questions” while at the “Land of Lincoln” evening class workshop. So when I say, “last night” I’m referring to last Friday, with the intention that this post would be uploaded Saturday evening! But I had no time to edit what I wrote since I was working all weekend for Mr. Basketmaker. Then traveling the other days. So forgive me for any confusion! Here goes…

Last night, I posted “five questions” and I was feeling a bit “punchy” by referring to Eric as “Puffy the Basketmaker.” Of course I was not making fun of his uncomfortable situation. Well, maybe a little. But all to cheer him up and make him laugh. Which he did. But it got me thinking about today’s post which I have aptly named “Puffy the Basketslayer.” Why slayer? Well, many reasons…

I will start at the end. He had a full class last night and we didn’t get out until a little after 9:30. Usually that wouldn’t be out of the ordinary, but at the crack of dawn about 15 hours earlier, and two hours north, outside of Chicago, we knew this day would not be routine and be a very long day. Which it was. And when we got back to our hotel, we were exhausted. Well, more so for Mr. Basketmaker (uhm, I mean ‘slayer’).

Let’s now rewind to the beginning. For Eric’s next workshop at Camp Tuck’s Basketweaving Convention, he was to drop me off at my sister’s outside of Chicago so I could visit her and my two nephews, and he would proceed the next morning to the Camp Tuck Basket Convention about two hours away for the next three days. Perfect plan.

However, the day before we were to leave Tennessee for Chicago, Mr. Basketmaker decided to give his dog Jackson a good washing. But he ended up using prescription-strength, highly concentrated, shampoo that was prescribed for our other dog, Chance, by the vet.

Later that evening, we thought nothing of it. Jackson was shiny clean. So no harm no foul. Well, that’s what we assumed.

The next morning, an hour or two before we were to leave, I noticed that Mr. Basketmaker’s face seemed to be quite flushed. He said he was a little itchy and was scratching in the night and chalked it off to being bit by a spider or some other annoying insect. I gave him some Sarna lotion and he said that it felt much better.

We arrive at my sister’s home without incident. A little late, but again, nothing out of the ordinary. We ate pizza, chatted on our fantasy football league’s page, spent some time with my sister and then off to bed.

At five in the morning, I couldn’t sleep and since I knew Eric would have a long day, I got up and went downstairs to work on my laptop and not disturb him. About an hour later, Eric comes walking in and I immediately bark out “Eric! Have you looked in the mirror! I don’t even recognize you!”

I feel bad now for initially saying that but I probably wanted to make sure that by the tone of my voice, he knew this was serious! He’s a typical guy who thinks nothing is wrong and no need for a doctor. But my tone must have worked since he said “This is not good.”

We got dressed and went to the closest Urgent Care Walk-In where we learned my nephew Ben went when he got his stitches. So if it was good for Ben, it was good for us. After a much longer wait than we anticipated, it was confirmed he was having an allergic reaction. And my guy, who is rarely sick and doesn’t even take aspirin, was prescribed three different medications. As we were driving to the nearby Walgreen’s to pick up the prescriptions, he said to me “do I really have to take all three?”

I believe he said that more in defeat, as if taking a prescribed medication meant you were no longer invincible or manly or whatever these typical “I don’t need a doctor” kind of men think.

When we returned to my sister’s, it was apparent that I could not stay for my visit and needed to drive him south annd help with the workshop. Especially since two of the medications would make him drowsy and a bit “loopy” AND he had to put icepacks on his face to reduce all the swelling. So it was a frantic 30 minutes of packing my stuff back up. (If you know me, then you know that when I arrive somewhere, I immediately start spreading out all my belongings everywhere!)

We left both the dogs behind and headed south. Eric sat in the passenger seat, reclined back with ice packs on his face. Halfway to our destination, the doctor rang. She said she was reviewing Eric’s chart and noticed she did not prescribe enough dosage for him. So she had to call in another prescription. But I was driving and we were no longer close by. She asked me what town we would be in and that she would call me back with the pharmacy’s location.

Anyone who thinks you don’t get personal attention from an Urgent Care facility, then you are wrong. Yes, it was an inconvenience due to the error, but we are grateful she followed up with us to correct it.

So we get to the pharmacy and they didn’t fill it yet and were behind. So we checked into our hotel. Then went back to the pharmacy, picked up the script and then headed to the workshop to set up and then for Eric to spend the evening teaching and working on finishing all his students’ baskets. But it got to 9:30, and Eric could barely stand.

If you have taken one of Eric’s classes, you know that he rarely sits down. He’s always on his feet, ready to attend to the next student who needs him. But last night, he sat next to me at the back of the room. I knew he was off his game and was tired. Very tired. And sure enough, he had to admit that he physically needed rest. And one of the side-effects of the prescribed meds was blurry vision … exactly what you don’t want when needing to drill holes through a mini 1/4 inch rim and 1/8  inch thick divider —  it has to hit perfectly or he could split their basket.

Unfortunately, for the first time, we had to collect everyone’s basket in order for him to finish inserting the final pieces of the basket the next day. He did not want to make a mistake and ruin someone’s basket. All the students understood.

As soon as we got in the car to make our way to the hotel, Eric fell asleep. Then, inside our room at the hotel, the tv, air conditioner and mini fridge shut off. They blew a fuse. Eric fell asleep minutes later. So he didn’t even notice.

So after all this and me calling him “puffy” it dawned on me how very important he treats his craft, his baskets and every student. While I drove, he sat in the car, without complaining once — his head burning, intense itching and ice packs on his face — it never occurred to him to cancel or not arrive on time. He’s a true artist, who cares about the finished product that he created. He’s a dedicated teacher, making sure he doesn’t let any of his students down (it affected him deeply when on that first night, his students were unable to finish. But was relieved the next day when he was able to get every single basket done before lunch, while still attending to his new batch of students). And most of all, he’s a true, hard-working, self-reliant, self-employed craftsman who dedicates 100 percent to his craft, at the same time, making it all look so effortless. And for all that, I appropriately dub him the “Basketslayer.”


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