When my parents were around, we had a bit of saying about “Choate Plan B”. Essentially, we’d make a plan (vacation, dinner, whatever) and then something would happen, and the plan would change. I think this is normal and something most groups of people face; groups of people are full of humans, and what could be more chaotic than humans?

This post is about three plans that changed.

Plan: Emerald Art Center Show

This weekend, the 16th Annual Emerald Spring Exhibition 2022 at the Emerald Art Center in Springfield opened. I drove down to the opening on Saturday night, which was lovely. Unfortunately, the trip was a marred by the fact that I had been hoping to go to dinner with some friends who had had their plans change. My friends made a point to go to the exhibit earlier in the week, and commented how lovely it was, but we didn’t get a chance to catch up over dinner. The exhibit runs from May 3 – June 3 and next Friday is the 2nd Friday Art Walk, May 13th, 5:30 – 7:30pm.


Plan: Keizer Community Gallery Show (Brush Buddies)

Last summer I submitted a proposal for a sculpture; to my shock, the proposal was accepted (no word on when it will all come together because they are still fundraising.) During this project the head of the committee asked me if I would be interested in displaying my paintings in the Keizer Community Center (930 Chemawa Road NE, Keizer, Oregon 97303) which had room for 60 paintings. I said of course and we booked June and July for whatever show I came up with (it’s worth noting the show does need to be approved, but I don’t see that as a huge obstacle. My paintings are usually pretty “G” rated.)

With 60 paintings to come up with, I started going through my inventory of already-framed paintings. I came up with about 35; though it wouldn’t be any trouble to come up with the additional 25, the cost of framing them (assume each painting costs $100 to frame, so that’s an additional $2500 out of pocket) seemed prohibitive for a show that looks great on a resume but probably wouldn’t generate a huge number of sales. In addition, once framed, each piece would have to be carefully stored and generally looked over. So, I asked my friend, Sandra Pearce, if she’d be interested in taking the other half of the show. She went through her inventory and came up with just under 30 framed pieces, so she agreed.

Before the show can go up, we had to submit photos and an inventory, which we’ve been working on for a few weeks now. I wanted to create a theme for the show and dithered around about that for a while. But last week we turned in our paperwork, and we’ll hear back after the committee meeting in a couple of weeks. We don’t know the “load in” or “load out” dates, but it will be early June and late July. It’s hard for me not having an exact plan, but I’m managing to cope (sort of.)

Show Statement: Brush Buddies

They met at the Watercolor Society of Oregon convention and for the last ten years, Tara Choate and Sandra Pearce have avidly painted the things that captured their attention. Sometimes together, most times apart.

As you will see by this retrospective exhibition, Sandra’s attention rests mainly on the land, but Tara is more easily distracted. While both artists focus on watercolor—a medium of endless challenges and opportunities—Tara has also provided a selection of acrylic paintings and even some works in oil.

Tara and Sandra invite the viewer to share the things that capture their attention and think about what draws your attention. The two artists each have a unique perspective and style—can you tell their pieces apart at a glance?

Tara Choate

Tara Choate paints from her home base of Keizer, Oregon. She has been painting since 2006,and was accepted into the Watercolor Society of Oregon (WSO) in 2009. While she paints primarily in watercolor, she has recently added some acrylic and collage to her repertoire.

Sandra Pearce

Sandra’s recent work includes industrial scenes, both functioning and abandoned to history, as seen in her travels to Europe and around North America. She is excited by the abstraction of space and light and shadow, and delights in the calligraphic details offered by piping, railings and ladders. This is an inspiring direction for Sandra’s growth as an artist, while still living the joy and serenity of painting nature.

Due to image resolution and file size issues, Sandra and I have chosen not to all 60 paintings on our “social media” sites; you’ll just have to swing by the Keizer Community Center (930 Chemawa Road NE, Keizer, Oregon 97303) sometime (more details to come.) I will say that I think it’s going to be a really lovely show.

Plan: Returning to Work Full Time

Last Sunday, after taking a week off and then working two weeks part time due to a medication-induced breakdown, I felt ready to return to work full-time. I was nervous about it, but I went over some guidelines and exercises and thought I was ready for a new challenge. Monday went well–I did all my health breaks including my 1-hour lunch where I got a walk with the dog and a short yoga routine. I was tired at the end of the day, but it is work and you’re supposed to be tired.

Tuesday is where it all fell apart. The State of Oregon has reopened their offices, and most employees have been asked to return to on site work at least one day a week. Before all this happened, my boss and I had decided Tuesdays would be a good day to come in, and so on Tuesday I made my way to the office. I carefully packed good food and decided to take the dog, who could hang out in the car (underground parking, very cool, with a nice water bowl); Key would be a good excuse to make sure I took breaks. We got to work 45 minutes early and took a walk around the grounds, which really are lovely, spotting three different types of warblers along the way (okay, honestly, I was more excited about this than Key, but I think he had a good time.)  After the walk, I “arrived” and went to a cubicle to set up and get going.

Things started to go downhill immediately. The cubicle I had checked out was available, but the docking station would not recognize my computer. I changed cubicles but that didn’t change the results. I went over various plugs and lines, thinking I must be missing something; this had worked the last time I was in. Thirty minutes later I was completely frustrated, told the office manager about the issue, put in a ticket to IT, and proceeded to TRY to do some work on my laptop (and only my tiny… little… laptop.) My initial plans for the day had required use of the side-by-side screens and a few other things, so I shifted gears.

Then the parade of people started, I work with lovely people, and I enjoy the company of (almost) all of them. For two years, all of us have seen digital versions of each other, but I think we can all agree that SEEING someone face-to-face is different. Quite a few people were in the office (maybe a dozen?) and people said hi to me and to each other. Conversations and catch-ups filled the air. People got sticky notes and cursed at the copier. All normal, except… it’s not normal anymore. I got increasingly tense, even though I had brought earphones and went down to see the dog at regular intervals. I completely lost sight of taking care of myself. I was following the plan, darn it. The plan was to take breaks with the dog and work in between. And I was going to do it or die trying. (Reality note: No one would have blinked if I had gone home at lunch, or even admitted it was too much.)

I saw this book on my Facebook feed and it spoke to me. I’m naturally an introvert and the last two years has only enhanced that. It shouldn’t have been shocking to find that being asked to work in an environment with a dozen people would be an adjustment. It probably shouldn’t have been rocket science that catching up with friends and hearing about their losses over the last couple of years would be disturbing.

I joke a lot about how difficult humans are to understand. But I probably need to remember that it’s not always a joke and that other people deal with it too.

My boss and I had a check-in in the late afternoon, and as you can imagine, I was well past seeing the forest (objective of taking it easy) for the trees (plan of working all day in the officr). All thoughts of being kind to myself, of taking breaks (I did go down to walk the dog regularly, but as the day progressed, those walks felt more like marches), and being aware of my mental state had vanished. I was in blind tunnel of “just make it through.” I walked into the meeting and my boss asked me if I was enjoying seeing everyone again. I said, “NO!” And here is where my boss gets the first of her two kudos. She looked at me, now rigidly sitting in a chair across from her, and said, “Maybe we should do this when you’re not so… tired.” I got up and stomped back to my cubicle. And cried for the rest of the day. But, by gum, I made it to the END OF THE DAY.

Honestly, I can’t quite figure out what prevented me from seeing that I had moved beyond a healthy space. Part of it is that at 8:30 when I was frustrated and frazzled with the computer stuff and I heard my little voice say, “Maybe it’s time to call it a day?”, industrious worker me scoffed and said, “You’ll never cope if you can’t even make it an hour.” And after that, everything felt like something that should have been no big deal, and I would DEAL WITH IT.

I made it home that evening and checked in with “L” (love you, L); as you may remember, L is my mental safety buddy and is specifically tasked with saying things like “Dial 911”, “Call Emergency”, and “Go to the urgent care.” She listened to my story and said, “I think you went back to work too soon.”

This information floored me. I had taken three weeks off. I had a plan. It SHOULD have been alright.

The next morning, I went into work and there was an email from my boss saying we should reschedule our check in. Within an hour, we were video conferencing. And here is the second kudo. Without preamble, my boss said, “Tara, I care about you and I’m worried about you. I think you came back too quickly. Mental health is nothing to fool around with.”

And I started crying again. She was right, but there was a PLAN! “I don’t know what to do,” I sobbed.

Within a few minutes we agreed that I would take the rest of the day off to do doctor stuff and to decompress. Then I’d return to work half time for the rest of the week and next week. Implied in the conversation is that we’d reassess as necessary.

So, my friends, I am back on medical leave. Choate Plan B. C? D?