Sunday, December 30, 2007

End of the Year Reflections

Happy new year
Happy new year
May we all have a vision now and then
Of a world where every neighbour is a friend
Happy new year
Happy new year
May we all have our hopes, our will to try

I've heard this song for a while, never knew it was Abba.

Here in blogland we have found new friends from all around the world.

May we have a vision in 2008 of how to put an end to all the chaos in our world
may we have less conflict and killing and more peace

may we all have a happy new year

Monday, December 10, 2007

Reaping the Whirlwind......

Quite a week it has been for American youth and guns.

Omaha, Arvada, Colorado Springs

In shopping malls and houses of worship

Our society has become meaner, more unfeeling, more violent

We are our own victims, our children have become killers

Our politics are all about the terrorists from without

We are creating our own terror within

"They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind"

now more than ever we need to pray for peace

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Creating in a vaccuum?

I have battled for a while with a huge case of "why bother" .... and today it occurred to me that its hard to create in a vaccuum....the well goes dry quickly when there is no rain, and this applies creatively too.

I admit, I like the "strokes" of having someone say "isn't that awesome" or something similar about something I've created -- and even more I appreciate the ones that will whip out their check book or their credit card and actually PAY for some of my artwork -- mostly the latter because without it I very quickly will have no way to pay for materials to make new things.

But there is in itself a certain amount of "loneliness" in creative pursuits. It does not help that at least in my little corner of the world, every group of people that I might find something in common with wants to charge a fee for the pleasure of joining their group.

I realize that if I could make the decision about where I would live I would go back to the beginning of my time living away from my parents, where my apartment was on a main bus line and close to groceries by walking and near enough to the main library and the art museums that I could go there every weekend if I wanted to ... in short, I would return to the city, away from the suburban sprawl and the responsibilities for every little problem with the property and shoveling the sidewalks when it snows and mowing the grass.

I guess the "American Dream" of home ownership was never really my dream, but the other half of this pair still wants that -- don't ask me why. And I guess what that really means is that I'm just being least according to current prevailing attitudes.

Ok, that's my little rant for today ..... back to work

Monday, December 03, 2007

Amazing Sound of a Boy Choir

The other evening I caught just the end of a performance on PBS of this amazing boy choir from England called Libera. If you haven't heard any of their music, I highly recommend you use this link and take a listen to some of their stuff.

My favorite of the ones on line is one titled I am the are the lyrics...............

I am the day, soon to be born
I am the light before the morning

I am the night, that will be dawn
I am the end and the beginning

I am the alpha and omega
The night and day, the first and last

Illuminosa, immortalis
Sancta gloriosa
Illuminosa, immortalis
Sancta gloriosa
In aeterna

I am the life, soon to begin
I am the new hope in the morning

I am the darkness, soon to be light
I am the rising and the falling

I am the alpha and omega
The night and day, the first and last

Illuminosa, immortalis
Sancta gloriosa
Illuminosa, immortalis
Sancta gloriosa
In aeterna

I'm hoping the program will be rerun and I can record it for future listening pleasure!

Friday, November 30, 2007

nothing without a reason?

Over at Clarity of Night (a blog I read regularly), Jason has posted 2 very interesting items this week.

On Wednesday he talked about a marker in one of the cemetaries near him and drew a lot of comment about the idea of "coincidence".

Today's posting was about a very special incident that happened to him after he had read some of those comments.


Do you believe in coincidence?

Are people rewarded or punished here for what they have done?

Do you think they're right when they say "no good dead goes unpunished"?

This much I do believe -- everything we do has an impact somewhere -- if we had not made every decision we have ever made, we would not be exactly where we are -- perhaps the ultimate expression of the rule of unintented consequences

What do you think?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fiber as an art form, and how much is too much?

Yesterday morning I started in on the annual "clean up the house for Christmas decorating", albeit slowly (very slowly due to the cold meds, etc.) when I was summoned to the TV by the DH and told to "sit, stay, watch this program!"

He had stumbled into a program on PBS titled The Art of Quilting, and he thought I might be interested in seeing it......well, let me tell you, I was GLUED to that TV screen through it all!

Now I can tell you that I have made a few quilts. To me quilts were functional, useful objects (guess that goes to my grandmother's telling me to be frugal with materials), but I have found ways to make my own sort of "artsy" statement with some of the ones I have done.

Lately, while the pieces I have worked on have been intended as gifts and intended to keep the user warm, there has been a certain amount of experimenting going on. In fact the piece I'm currently working on is another combination of piecing, applique, embroidery, embellishing and my current plan is to quilt a design over it that does not following the design on the front which will be a real departure from anything I've ever done with one. (All this from someone that two years ago was a confirmed PIECER -- no applique -- too difficult, etc., etc.)

Anyway, regarding the show -- I was fascinated by the work of a group of women who call themselves The Chicago School of Fusing -- a technique that I know a little about and have not previously been interested in doing anything with because I can't see it as a good technique for something intented to be a cover to be wrapped up in. However, as a technique for something to be hung on the wall, that transformation of quilt to art form to be VIEWED it holds a lot of fascination.

The project I'm working on now features a dragon on a water/mountain background, but after seeing that show I see the potential for a smaller hanging version with more than one dragon -- all of which would be possible if I used that fusing technique....

hmmmmmm, perhaps an idea for a later time!

Meantime, I'm considering rather my idea a few months ago to split up my areas of art into several different blogs was such a good one.

Sometimes, less is more, and after all, anyone that knows me, knows my work or has even randomly read my ramblings knows that I have this whole issue of focus -- or lack thereof -- multi tasking seems to be my middle name and I'm not sure at this point in my life if its a good idea to fight what has worked (ok, most of the time!) by trying to split it up into little bite sized pieces.....

We'll see

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Multi tasking -- crazy or not?

In a catalog recently I saw a t-shirt for sale that said "Multi tasking - the art of screwing up many things at once"

hmmmmmm -- do you think there is any truth to that?

I must admit that from time to time I get frustrated with the "lack of apparent accomplishment" that accompanies this phenomenon, but on the other hand, I'm just as likely to get totally bored and just put it aside and never finish if I try to work on just one thing at a time

Is there a happy medium here?! (and if so, could you please tell me what the winning lottery number are!)

Actually, I've been pretty steadily working on 3 projects this week -- two of which are Christmas presents for folks that actually (at least occasionally) read my blogs, so I can't say much about them -- the third one is a "make it and it might sell, possibly an order" item that I'm about half done with.

As I've been slogging along through these 3 items, I've begun to think about trying the "focus on one project" idea for a bear that I did the design for a while back and that is as far as it has gotten. Part of that has been because for me the bear is easy (relatively anyway), but pulling together all of the accessories/costuming/etc/etc is not so much, and there is still the "it doesn't look like what I saw in my head" issue to deal with.

So, maybe in a few weeks after all the Christmas presents are done (including the at least 3 more that haven't even been started besides all the WIPs); I'll have a go at putting away everything else (well, ok, except the afghan squares which I use like a "pacifier" before I drift off at night) and concentrate on this one bear and all of the accessories that I have envisioned --- we'll see how that goes!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The post office is making me CRAZY!

For quite a while now, I have been an Amazon Book Seller -- I list books on Amazon through their seller program (used books, new books, books found at garage sales, books given to me -- whatever I can get my hands on); Amazon sends me an email when a sale is made, I ship off the book and every 2 weeks Amazon tranfers the money I have earned into my bank account.

Slick little money making thing, and for 3 years it has been painless -- I buy $1.00 stamps from the post office (usually ordering through the mail), weigh the book on my postal scale, look up the correct Media Mail postage amount on, slap the stamps on the book and put it out in my mail box for the postal employee to pick up.

Recently, however, here in our ultra conservative, "there's a terrorist under every bush" little up tight town, the powers that be at the post office have tightened up their policies and made my life a lot more difficult for this endeavor.

It began simply enough. I got an email from Amazon telling me that one of the books I had listed had sold and I should ship it out. I did my usual thing -- this particular book weighed 2 pounds and 4 ounces as it was a thick hard bound one -- put the book out in the box, went on my merry little way.

But wait! Two days later, there it is back in my mail box with one of those obnoxious post office sticky notes pasted over the mailing address tell me that any piece of mail that weighs over 13 ounces and has postage stamps on it must be taken to the post office and handed to a post office employee. Not just drop it in the post office box either, nooooo, stand in line for half an hour just to hand them my already weighed and stamped package. Say WHAT!?

First off, what's with 13 ounces? I mean, why not say, 10 ounces, or 14 ounces or 3 ounces.....and the bit about "because it has stamps on it"......meaning if I could afford a postage meter and print those little tape thingies like the post office does I'd be able to just put it in the box. And then there is the question of "what's in the package?"

I had this whole discussion with the postal clerk at the desk -- I asked her "how do you know what's in the package just because I carried it in here?"

I got this whole song and dance from her about how since 9/11 the airlines won't let the post office put a package over 13 ounces with stamps on it on an airplane if it didn't come into the office. HUH?! Give me a break lady, I may be older but I'm not senile, and that is a CROCK -- like the airlines are going to look at each and every package in that big sealed container of mail that gets put on the plane....don't give me that!

And then again, consider that if I really was a terrorist and wanted to put a bomb in a package I'd probably be well funded enough to have that little postage machine and print those little tapes and then I could just send off my little package anyway.

One more piece of evidence that I was right when I said that 9/11 was the day the whole world lost its mind.............

Friday, November 09, 2007

Amen sister!

Over at A Little Imagination and a Pile of Junk the gal that runs Little Black Kitty Art wrote a great bit today about living simply.

I have thought about this issue a lot of late anyway, but her analysis brings it more clearly into focus.

One of the things she says is: "I don’t need near as much stuff as I think I do. Having more than I need just complicates my life. The more stuff I have, the more time I have to spend cleaning, organizing, and taking care of it."

Now I have felt that way for a while. Maybe its that we are in a huge, 2 story, 4 bedroom house and at least in the winter when we're here by ourselves, we don't even go upstairs except to shower! And its on a big lot which means we must also mow it/rake it/shovel it outside.

I'd be just as happy in a much smaller place with much less stuff! I don't want to have to clean it/dust it/wash it/polish it/rake it/repair it or whatever "it" requires. I want to work on other things!

At the end of her discussion on this subject she asks this question: "Do you have any tips for me on the logistics of down-sizing and getting the kids on board with it?"

To which I add a question of my own -- how do you get a husband on board with it? That I think is a much tougher question.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

blah, blah, blah......

as in, that's how I've felt for the past few days.....nothing serious, just that lingering, behind the eyes, "I don't want to do anything" feeling that usually accompanies the switch off of daylight savings time.....our sleeping schedules are all messed up -- ie the labrador thinks its time to go outside at 5:15 AM! after which I never really get to sleep again....{sigh!}

Its also the result of knowing that Christmas is only 47 days away and behind that the already scheduled increase in health insurance premiums which coupled with the rising price of gas almost insures that we simply will not be able to make ends meet in the new year which is just not a pretty picture.......

My ideas to try new on line ventures to make money have just not panned out, so I'm simply out of ideas at this point........

The best plan we had come up with was to sell our house and move into something smaller, but with the current glut of houses on the market, we wouldn't even be able to get enough out of it to manage that......

I'm seriously thinking that I will have to try to find some kind of regular job somewhere after the first of the year and the traveling/shows/art work will just have to stop

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I'm a dork -----

but maybe not enough of one......

I decided, after thinking about a lot of stuff, that I would try to launch a new website using Google's pagemaker. Part of the idea was to actually figure out how to use a WYSIWYG webpage designer.

I know, I know, that SOUNDS easy -- just drag and drop and all that -- or NOT!

Here's the problem I guess -- I first used a "personal computer" in about 1981. It was a big box with 2 5.25 inch "floppy" discs -- that's it, just those 2 discs, no hard drive, no photoshop, no word processing program, no windows -- do one thing at a time from the "dot prompt" which was literally a little orange dot on the screen.

My first adventures were to learn (all self taught, mind you) how to program in Basic. I remember well those first attempts. Basic is so, well Basic! Open the program and type: A = 1; B = 1; A+B=C; run when the number 2 popped up on the screen you'd have thought I had just invented sliced bread, velcro, postit notes and the safety pin in one (key)stroke. It was amazingly exciting.

Such were the adventures of a self taught, math moron personal computer programmer.

I used that Basic program for quite a while until the technology advanced and we actually had a PC with a hard drive -- a 20MB hard drive (yes that's 20MB!) and we couldn't imagine that we'd ever fill it up. And the new program was dBase. It was even more amazing. I built entire business applications in it. I loved the mental challenge of MAKING the machine do what I told it to.

After the advent of the world wide web, I dabbled further. During a 6 month period when I couldn't work because of a back injury, I taught myself how to write HTML code and put up a website. I loved this combination of using graphics, words and being able to tell it where to put every pixel.

So, here's the problem I have with a WYSIWYG webpage designer -- someone else has the control -- I think I will be forever stuck using my old HotDog HTML writer even though it is SO limited in features for spell checking, cut and paste, etc., but I understand it and I get to decide where everything goes.

like I said --- I'm a dork!

Monday, October 29, 2007

theives with good taste.....

As you may recall, I did a little rant last week about the fact that a piece of jewelry had been stolen off my table at the last show I had done.

It wasn't until I was remarking and double checking my inventory for the show I'm doing this weekend that I realized that actually TWO pieces had been stolen from my table, for a total loss of almost $400.

This is the picture of the other piece that was taken. One of my newer necklaces with genuine turquoise and coral pieces and several hours spent working up the fringes.

I am beyond angry....I'm am totally disgusted.....

someone remind me again WHY I'm doing this...............................

Saturday, October 27, 2007

On the horns of a dilemma...

"If you are on the horns of a dilemma, you are faced with two equally unpleasant options and have to choose one."

English is such a colorful language! (if you are curious about the origin of this phrase, you can go here to read more)

It truly describes how I feel just now, however.

On the one hand, I have always considered my website to be a reflection of my art. It served as a place to show off my latest creations and (occasionally) sell one of them. It was where I put my show schedule. But first and foremost, it HAD to be, well, ARTFUL!

On the other hand, just now, I really need to find a way to generate some income and in an article in yesterday's USA Today there were some references to some websites that are "rakin' it in" by putting Google ads on their sites.

I went and took a look at a bunch of those this morning -- and here's the problem: to me they are NOT artful -- some of them are extremely cluttered and confusing, and are the last place I would seek information because of that.

Obviously I'm not a good judge of what makes money however.....

So, now what? I refuse to let my ART site look like that, which of course leaves me with the other alternative -- build a site that is designed specifically to make money. It will require me to create an entirely new site (probably at first a free one somewhere) based on something (what is not clear at this point) that will be designed just to generate some kind of income.

This of course will take time away from making art -- but, I suppose its better than the OTHER alternative -- you know, a Walmart job ---

hmmmmmmmmmm -- guess I need to go think about what I know enough about to write it for $$

Friday, October 26, 2007

am I weird... or ....who are YOUR heros?

well, ok, let's revise that question lest someone take it for license to let fly with WAY more answers than I want to hear!

Over at Words of a Writer, Kelly was talking about Action Heros and their movies and how many of them she has seen.

I must confess that of her list of 25, I've only seen ONE of them all the way through. Its just never been my thing. And don't even go there with Superman, Batman or any of those other things -- same deal.

So, that said, I've been reading a book titled Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook and promptly found myself stuck in an exercise that talks about heros.

Perhaps I'm looking at this the wrong way......maybe I refresher course in every day heros would be more know, those ordinary people that plug along against difficult circumstances.....

In that case, I think my great grandmother fits the bill. Her husband was killed when a horse kicked him in the chest back in 1910 leaving her with 8 kids, the youngest of whom was about 2. (Now days, he probably could have been saved, but back then they just brought him into the house and he died the next day -- he probably had a punctured lung) She went on (with the help of the older kids) and raised the kids, tho' I have no idea what she did to feed and clothe them -- I'm guessing that there was insurance money, but I'm not sure. Anyway, she lived until 1969! I can say that I actually remember visiting with her when I was a child, and my grandmother went to visit EVERY year -- a lot of years going on the bus down to Oklahoma in the middle of the summer --

Ok, maybe this is worth examining closer -- every day heros..........

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Remind me again why I do shows.......

Ok, perhaps the little romp with the labrador yesterday morning was a sign .... or it might have been good if we had wakened to what we did this morning (yup, that's our first snow of the season)

When we were getting ready to leave yesterday morning (at 5 a.m.), our dog decided she needed to play in the FRONT yard, and went zipping out the door to romp around the yard. Fortunately a friend of ours had taught her to jump into the car to take a ride without benefit of a leash (her motto is "I don't got to show you no stinkin' leashes"!), so we just opened the van and she jumped in. Then I could grab her by the collar and take her back into the house.

We had last done this particular high school show 3 years ago (that time, the labrador went with us -- to be "baby sat" by my sister as she was just a puppy then).

First off, the show had a lot fewer vendors this time, and it was about 10% food vendors (bread, soup mix, chili sauce, etc.); several commercial booths (Mary Kay, etc) and a LOT of "I can string beads on a string" jewelry vendors.

Then there was the fact that there was very little traffic through the show. When not many folks even come in the door, its pretty difficult to be able to sell things. We sold enough things to pay for our table, but not to cover other expenses.

And then there was the crowning blow --- The bracelet shown here (priced at $160.00) was STOLLEN off of my table. Lovely -- they like my work well enough to steal it, but not to buy it.

To say the least, I'm PISSED!! But I guess it just speaks to the condition of the economy now days, especially since what I sell is not something people "need" to have (but obviously someone WANTED it real bad).

I hope the way this show went is not indicitive of how the rest of them will be between now and Christmas.


Now I have to start trying to get my mind set right to retag everything to be in a show where I'm not supposed to be there the whole time because they use a central cashier, but frankly right now I'm feeling real nervous about that idea. After all, if they'll steal things off my table when I'm standing there, what will they do when I'm not - steal 2 or 3?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

why do my Crocs eat my socks?

I love my Crocs.

Ever since my daughter brought me home that first pair, I have been thrilled, delighted, enthralled, elated and ecstatic over how comfortable they are to wear. This is no mean feat, considering I have mean feet -- that is I have an extremely arthritic toe (note for the uninformed: do NOT drop an 8 foot pressboard and metal banquet table sideways on to your toe -- it does bad things) and really wide feet to begin with. So to find a pair of shoes that are comfortable for me to wear even on the third day of a show when I've been standing on my feet for two days already is a wonderful thing.

I have only one complaint.

My Crocs "eat" my socks. Especially during this time of the year, when the temperature outside drops below freezing and the temperature in our house is never (well, hardly ever) above a "tropical" 62 degrees, I need to wear socks. I would prefer to wear some that are bright and colorful to spice up the otherwise drab outfit of almost non-stop grey sweats that are my winter uniform. I might even consider knitting a pair of bright colorful socks, but not until I can solve the problem of why my Crocs eat my socks.

My current theory is that those little "teeth" inside the shoe that help with grip and airflow combined with the dry skin on my feet and the many, many steps that are taken in those shoes every day leads to the sock eating. I'm contemplating the idea of some kind of inner soles, but the idea of a foam inner sole getting wet in addition to the wet socks that I'm already used to dealing with just doesn't sound fun.....

Ok, anybody got any ideas? I'm yearning for fewer eaten socks -- and maybe even to wear bright, colorful socks someday!

Monday, October 15, 2007

delving deeper?

This is an albatross.......

and right now, this feels like one!

For the second (and THIRD!) time in a month, I went into the laundry room to find water all over the floor.

On Saturday afternoon, I went down to get a jar of tomatoes and found that the brand new water heater was running water out of the little pipe on its side.

This is definately NOT right.

A phone call was made, the repair man returned (on a Saturday you get the guy that OWNS the repair company), and discovered that a thing called a "pressure reducing valve" had gone out.

What, you might ask, is a pressure reducing valve? Well I certainly did. You see when we lived in California, water from the utility company to our house was all gravity fed, there was no need of pressure or reducing valves.

Not so here in our new area. The water company FORCES the water through the system so that they can get it to all the places (including all those new "build it and people will come" houses WAY out East of town). What that means is that the water from the system is at about 150 pounds of pressure, and most household appliances (washers, dishwashers, water heaters) are only built to handle about 75 pounds. Water heaters have a built in pressure release so that when the pressure gets too high, they begin to release water instead of blowing up.

Ok, so far so good -- the water heater was doing its job. The repair man replaced the valve, I cleaned up the mess, ran a load of washing (things got wet!), and felt we had things back in control.

Leave us not smirk like this guy. Things were not all as in control as thought.

On Sunday morning I went into the laundry room to pull the load of laundry from Saturday's escapade out of the dryer only to find, once again, water running out of that release valve on the water heater.

WHAT THE ?????

Back to the phone we go, only this time, I'm even more annoyed. I do not want to spend my play day Sunday dealing with plumbers and water and cleaning up!


This time the issue is related, but different. You see, water heaters are not what they used to be.

Notice that in the old "unsafe" water heaters, there was a place inside the tank for the water to expand and contract as it heated and cooled -- remember that science lesson -- water expands as it heats until it forms steam

Notice too that the new "safe" water heaters do not have that little extra space. This is part of what makes them more energy efficient (ok, I'm alright with that), but it does mean that an extra little "safety tank" sometimes needs to be installed on them in areas that have that whole forced water pressure issue.

And so it was....

The repair man was here for a couple of hours, draining, cutting, soldering.... Seems all of this weekend's issues should have been found when the original work was done back in September if the system had been properly tested by the guy that did the work. I'm thinking that he's going to be getting a ear full from the boss man today. And the guy did try to do right by the situation, gave us the regular during the week price, not the weekend premium and no extra for the service calls (I should think NOT!!).

So, in the end, the problem really does now seem to be fixed, but I still feel like echoing this guy ---- ready? SSSSCCCCCCRRRRREEEEEEAAAAAAMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!

Note: the origin of the term "albatross around one's neck" is derived from the poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. An albatross is an enormous sea bird (about a 92 inch wing span!!), and they are friendly, so shooting one was punished by making the sailor that did so wear its carcass around his neck .... thus the morphing in our culture of the albatross seen as an unwarrented burden.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

its a good thing/bad thing

for the most part I like fall ....

-I like the crunch of the leaves
-I like that it's cooler
-I like not having to mow the lawn so often
-and there's something about fall that makes me want to start new projects

but there are some things that I do not like
-that we have less daylight
-that I know snow is not far behind
-that I'm reminded that another year is slipping away
-and there are still a lot of unfinished projects

seems I should name a lot of endeavors as "Ambivalence Are Us"

thing is, I like new projects possibly because they are new ... like a field of fresh snow that has yet to be walked in ... new projects are clean, pristine, free of any undue screw ups on my part .....

and perhaps that is why some things never get finished -- after a while that field of fresh snow just looks like a pile of dirty mud, and the only thing I want to do is walk away

some days projects are not the only thing I feel that way about

Friday, October 05, 2007

feeling like 3rd grade again....

This last bout with a stomach virus and its aftermath has reminded me of when I was a kid.

When I was in the 3rd grade I had red measles and chicken pox back to back and missed about 5 weeks of school -- no wonder I never learned the times tables for 6s, 7s and 8s!

Anyway, I remember when I first went back to school that odd, "out of body", "lighter than air" feeling.

And so it has been this time -- I felt fairly "disconnected" to my body for most of yesterday -- how odd.

This morning as I was surfing about I ran across the artwork of an acquaintance and momentarily thought that someone else was using her name. The piece looks so different that I would never have guessed it was her work -- interesting how some of us keep "reinventing" ourselves! (I admit that I've hit a bit of a "dead" spot in terms of creating animals recently, but the DH is still working on this end of the endeavors, and this is not the first time I've "taken a break" from them only to return with a lot more interesting ideas.)

Despite feeling so out of it yesterday, I did do quite a bit of work.

I have actually begun working on the bracelet that I want to submit to the jewelry magazine that Sommerset Studios puts out. This is taking a little longer than it normally would because I've decided to do photographs of each step of the process on the off chance they might actually want to publish the project.

The beading and embellishments on the newest handbag are complete, now I'm just waiting for the package with the magnetic clasps to arrive so I can put the piece together.

Progress continues too on the "river bed" for the beaded piece. Using this Right Angle Weave continues to amaze me, the "feel" of the piece is amazing, almost like the flow of a piece of silk, it is so light and flexible---I can almost envision making an entire piece of clothing out of this stuff. As I've worked along, I've been experimenting with different ways to increase the size of the piece. There are a few "boo boos" along the edge, but I'm now comfortable enough with the technique that I know I will be able to go back and add additional stitches along the edges to make it more the shape I want it to be. I've been carefully keeping track of the time that goes into this piece as well. After seeing the kind of prices that are on some other artist's work, I know the pricing WAY under its value. (The trick will be getting someone to pay anywhere near what it is worth). It is a good exercise for me to know how much time is in these pieces tho'

I'm on the home stretch of the wedding ring quilt. There are only 8 more rings to quilt, then I can do the binding. My reward to myself for working right along on this is that I will be allowing myself some time to do the pattern drawing of the new quilt that is next on my "to do" list.

And so today there are some outdoor chores to be done before I get to "play" at any of my art, but I hope to get some things done in the studio.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Play Day that didn't happen.....

Ok, so I was going to try to spend yesterday playing with new techniques and maybe learning something new that I could use to make some new multi media pieces, but somehow, it all went haywire.

First off, for some reason I didn't even get up until after 7 am -- an unheard of late time of the morning for me unless I'm sick. But then the dog had asked to go out at 4 am and I wasn't ready to get up then so I went back to sleep, thinking she'd wake me again around 6 as usual, but she didn't -- it was cloudy and sort of dark then and well, we just didn't wake up

I did my usual computer stuff and figured I'd spend the rest of the day messing with beads and things, but then we decided that since its getting a lot cooler (fall has definately arrived) that we should take the evaporative cooler back to the storage shed and get the little electric heater out of the storage shed in case it gets really cold on an evening soon.

That exercise lead to rearranging the stuff in the shed, and then the DH decided that he would mow the back yard, so while he did that, I vacuumed the family room and restacked all the tomato baskets (we had them around the new little trees we put in this summer).

So after all of that, I took a look in my stash of supplies to see if I had the necessary materials to work on a spiral stitch that I wanted to figure out, only to discover that I didn't have any size 8 beads -- size 6 yes, size 8 no -- and so the expected experimenting didn't happen.....I guess I may play with using a 4 mm stone or glass bead instead of trying the size 8 seeds just to see if that will work, but yesterday I just didn't think of that possibility. (then there is the issue that I really hate doing the frog stitch on beadwork.....and I usually want the thing to end up being something useful, so the idea of working something up just to rip it out makes me a little crazy --- sort of defies the whole "playing" thing I guess)

I did end up working on the new handbag I'm making out of felted pieces, finished piecing the front of the bag together so I can steam it and cut it to size before I start doing the embellishments (I'm going to put felt maple leaves with beaded veining on it -- at least that is the plan)

Later in the afternoon I did start on the "river bed" of the bead piece I'm working on. I'm using the RAW stitch I taught myself last week, and even taught myself two ways to increase the number of squares across the piece last night. This stuff done in delicas is so light and so flexible that it is really hard to believe how strong it is too. The idea of the "river bed" is to create this RAW stitched piece in the shape I want the entire base of the piece to be, then put the stones on top of that followed by all of the "streams" over them, running in and out over the stones to the river bed, ending with a "water fall" of fringing off the edge.....I'm starting to be able to see the idea in my head (which is a little scary since I have such a hard time making it from those ideas to the "real thing")

This morning its back to the laundry and all the other ordinary stuff....

While I like fall, I am not crazy about the changing weather's affects on my body -- I woke up with aching joints -- not my idea of a good way to start the day ---- oh well, it could be a lot worse!

And so, its time to get busy on "stuff"

Friday, September 28, 2007

about inspiration and new directions

There's something about fall that makes me want to start a bizzillion new projects.

I think it must have to do with all those years of school when new things began in September, not in the spring like nature intended....or maybe it has to do with Christmas is coming --- or who knows

At any rate, the front cover of a recent magazine sent me off on a "quest" of sorts. There was this picture of the work of Judi Wood, who considers herself to be a mixed media artist.

Now with no undue self congratulation (or depreciation), her work feels like what I'd like mine to look like -- its just obvious she's figured it out better -- so far at least.

This single photograph (ok, the article in the magazine too) sent me off looking for more information on how to practice my art in new ways.

So yesterday I came home from the library with a pile of books, most of which were a bit of a disappointment. What I'm actually looking for is a book of bead stitch techniques that includes things like "gourd stitch" and "square stitch" so I can teach myself more new techniques and use them to build even better pieces.

I briefly toyed with the idea of doing some bead loom pieces, but the whole deal with a loom is that it is VERY structured and frankly, I don't like to "stay within the lines".

One book that I brought home is titled 500 Beaded Objects which was put out by (who else) Lark Books. There are some absolutely fabulous pieces in that book as well as a few that had me thinking "what the....?"

Interestingly enough, with the exception of Judi Wood, whose work sent me off on this whole search, the work of a lot of other artists that have inspired my work is represented in the book: Sherry Serafini, Laura McCabe, Madelyn Ricks, Rebecca Brown-Thompson, Margie Deeb and Rebeka Hodous. Each one doing very amazing work, some to wear and some a decor, all very individual and each one has inspired me to try something different.

And the DH, as he leafs through the book says to me: "your work is as good as anything in here"....such a kiss up -- but he means it, and for once I didn't feel like saying "yeah, right", but much more like saying -- "yeah, it is!" Now there is progress for you!!

So, I shall press on trying to find a book that gives me more direction for more techniques, even though I'm thinking that it will require that I actually BUY the book, instead of being able to borrow it from the library.....wish there was some great "inter library loan" system that would let me borrow it from where ever it is...

And so for the meantime, I'll be out surfing the web trying to find more information and hoping for some results as good as what I found last Sunday that made for some great new jewelry.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

course correction?

Fall has arrived on the calendar, and here over 6000 feet, it actually FEELS like fall -- today at least. Its cool enough that the sliding door to the patio is remaining closed. The leaves on the cottonwood and aspen trees are starting to change color and my outdoor "to do" list is beginning to feel more urgent than the "in the house" chore list.

I like fall because it is cooler (I really don't like hot weather), and the colors of the trees are so pretty. It does mean, however, that we must prepare for the long cold winter blast that will arrive soon, usually before I get through that outdoor list. And I really don't like really cold weather any better than I do the hot.

Meantime, fall always reminds me of going back to school and having new notebooks and crayons.

I recently came across a couple of galleries of art work online that made me realize that what I do is not all that crazy and that some other people are working in the same medium and even selling pieces and making a living THERE is a concept!

Anyway, if you'd like to see what I mean you can go and take a look at the work of Margie Deeb (whose book I would LOVE to have!) and Judi Wood ($5K for a 4 inch by 4 foot beaded scarf that takes a year to do!).

something to think about....

Thursday, September 20, 2007

under the catagory of "now what"!

It seems that every time it looks like we have taken a step forward and I start to feel like this whole artist thing is working I get hammered with another "domestic" issue.

Two weeks ago we were in Kansas City where we had a great show, and actually made a little money on the deal. Last weekend's show was not so great, but something we could recover from since we had such a good show the week before.

Then there was yesterday.

When we go out of town there is always extra laundry to do, so I had been washing loads since Tuesday afternoon.

Yesterday after we had been out to pick up a few groceries, I went back downstairs to move another load out of the washer and into the dryer. When I went into the laundry room I discovered there was water everywhere.

At first I thought the washer had gone "belly up" --- I wish it had been that simple.

What was really going on was that water was running out of the top of the water heater.....not a good sign.

So after making 3 phone calls to find someone that could come right away and didn't want to charge me over $100 just to come and look, the repair man was on his way.

We now have a new water heater, a hugh mess still to be cleaned up, and a loan to my parents of over $1000....I had to call and ask them to put the cost on one of their credit cards.

So, I am once again feeling like a failure --- at my age I shouldn't have to ask mommy to rescue me at every turn.

So I will acknowledge that it could have been worse -- it could have happened on one of those weekends we were gone which would probably have flooded the entire basement, put out the pilot light and maybe blown the house up. As it is, there is a mess to clean up, but it will probably serve as prompting for me to just start getting rid of stuff.

I will also acknowledge that because of this I now know where the main water shut off for the house is, something I should have known 5 years ago.

But I'm wondering now just where I'm going on shows and art work. Its sort of like that poem about the horse shoe nail. Certainly there will be very little extra money out of our already stretched budget to pay for show fees. Without being able to pay show fees, I will have no shows to try to sell my stuff at. Without being able to sell my things, there will be no way to buy materials to make additional pieces, and really no point in doing them anyway.

Is there some lesson here? Is this simply suffering the natural consequences of having been too stupid to make good decisions in the past? Is this being punished for doing bad things?

Whatever it is, I obviously don't get it since I don't seem to be able to do anything to change it.....if it were just me I would throw away, give away and sell stuff, sell the house as quickly as possible and go live somewhere small that I wouldn't have to be responsible for....perhaps that's the problem---- I'm tired of always being responsible............

never mind

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Walking with Elphaba

In keeping with the doctor's advise to walk, this morning Elphaba (the big black dog that lives at our house) and I set out for our first morning walk adventure.

Preparation for the morning walk is all important. Shoes and socks and a hat are required -- on me, not Elphaba -- Elphie gets her harness and a plastic bag tucked under the top edge of her collar (we want to be good neighbors during our walk and not leave behind any solid calling cards)

With the idea being to start in slowly, I set my cell phone's 10 minute alarm as we went out the door and down the street we went.

Along the way we heard dogs barking in some of the back yards as we went by. Elphie checked all of the "pee mail" along the way and left a couple of messages of her own.

Our big event of the morning came as we got close to the drainage ditch where she flushed a little cotton tail rabbit out of the bushes. I'm glad she decided to just freeze and "point" at it instead of chase it! (the idea of having a 70 pound dog take off on a run leaves me invisioning having one arm that is a foot longer than the other!)

It was a nice little trip around our neighboorhood, and it will be interesting to see what new things we see each morning as we travel.

Friday, August 31, 2007

trying to take the doctor's advice

I made my annual trip to the doctor yesterday ... actually about 3 months late, and I confess I only went because they wouldn't refill my blood pressure medicine without my going....haha to the doctor that wrote that original prescription....I went to a different doc!

Ok, so here's the deal -- I hate going. I don't need the doctor to tell me that I'm overweight and getting older.....all I have to do is look in the mirror-- TA DA, diagnosis complete.

What a difference a different doctor can make. The last one treated me like I was just an after thought.....I don't think so!! This one is SO much better.

So, here's what the doc says:

my blood pressure is under good control -- and we like the nice side effect of the blood pressure meds that make the migraines stay away

we need to do something to make a dent in the cholesterol issues -- the previous doctor had said basically "you're just out of luck"! Not so, says the new doctor, so we have a new 5 step program:
1. increase the amount of fish oil and niacin that I take on a daily basis from 2 to 3 each
2. even though taking aspirin makes my ears ring, we're going to try taking 1 baby aspirin every other day and take it in the evening so the "ringing" doesn't bother me so much
3. every other day 1/2 of a Crestor 5mg tablet (I get to cut them) -- and she gave me 4 packets of these little lovelies, so I have no out of pocket expense while we figure out what works
4. walk the dog -- no we're not talking about yoyo tricks here, we're talking about taking the four footed critter that lives at our house on an outing every day -- not too far at first, we need to work our way up to long distance (and the other projects I'm working on, like moving piles of rock from one side of the yard to the other and sanding and painting the storage shed are good activities too) It was a joy to have a doctor really LISTEN to my issues about exercise
5. drink a glass of red wine -- at least once a week -- hmmmm, this almost sounds like a reward for doing the hard stuff as a glass of wine with a good italian meal is a delight

Of course the hard part of the doctor discussion had to do more with asking for advice on the other issues -- those days when I want to just pull the hole in over me and hide. The fact that its hard for me to even ask is at the very core of the problem -- I have not ever been very good at asking for help or asking for what it is I need. Too many years of being told "you always put others first" -- the problem with that approach is you can mentally and emotionally starve to death that way, you can not give others something to drink from an empty well, and if you never do for yourself you can't refill the well.

(Okay, intellectually I KNOW that, but I still have a hard time DOING something about it -- I also have a problem not feeling guilty about doing anything for me that costs anything)

That said, I am beginning to realize that all of the healthy body steps make no sense if emotionally I'm a "basket case"!

Instruction from the doctor -- keep writing (okay, that won't be too hard), work on asking for what I need, and maybe find a group to belong to where I can share a hobby or something that doesn't require me to pay a big fee or always be the teacher -- and this part will be as hard as the exercise!

Friday, August 24, 2007

more doggie day camp

warm weather is a good time for a little sun bathing.....

Elphie and Soma hang out on the patio to catch some rays.....this was after they had chased squirrels and dumped over the bucket of water (then carried the bucket out into the yard!)

They were just having a lovely time

I guess Soma was in need of some extra comfort last night as she decided that she was a lap dog and crawled right up!

Elphie is in the chair behind them, watching to make sure nothing is happening she doesn't approve of.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

doggie sleep over camp



As I mentioned yesterday, we're keeping our daughter and son-in-law's dog while they are off on their honeymoon.

So today's pictures are of yesterday's play in the yard while we were mowing the grass.

Soma will chase a ball until her tongue hangs clear to the ground! We put a bucket of water out on the porch so the two dogs don't have to run in and out of the house to get a drink, and Soma used it to dunk the ball in. By the end of the day there was a layer of dirt in the bottom of the bucket and a "slick" of grass clippings floating over the whole top --- YUCK! Needless to say, we dumped and rinsed and today they started out with a fresh bucket full.

Monday, August 20, 2007

thoughts on being a new mother-in-law....

On Saturday evening, my daughter married a great guy. I know its totally cliche to say, but I do feel like instead of loosing a daughter, I gained a son.

One of the things the pastor said to them during the ceremony was that they would laugh together and cry together, and judging from all the tears during the ceremony, they've got the crying part down already.

Its so sweet that they are both tender, emotional people, and that they also know how to laugh and have fun.

So this week I am doing my first mother-in-law thing, taking care of their dog while they go off to Disneyland for their honeymoon.

Friday, August 17, 2007

sneek peek of wedding cake......

Well, today is the day we take off to Northern Colorado for our daughter’s wedding.

This week we have had two friends here with us from California and have spent most of the week working on flowers and cakes and putting quilting stitches into the quilt I put together for the happy couple.

Yesterday was especially hectic in that there are certain things that simply cannot be done until the last minute. So, yesterday morning at about 10 we started in on the final decorating of the cakes. We had so issues with frosting texture and these cakes being so moist and very tender, so a lot of time was devoted to just getting a clean layer of frosting on them. Decorating was easier, and they look pretty nice. I think they will look even better when we get them set up on the stands with the lace and the flowers.

We had just enough time to have a quick bite of lunch before it was time to head off to pick up the flowers. We decided to rest a bit and have dinner before starting into the flowers.

At 7 we began cutting and wiring individual flowers, and by 10 we had completed the bride’s bouquet, flowers for 4 bridesmaids, 10 boutonni√®res for various men to be honored and 9 corsages for various ladies. We also had a bucket full of flowers left that will be used as decorations on the tables, around the cake, etc.

So today, we’ll be packing up the van and heading off.

There will be lots of posting about all the festivities next week – with pictures!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Yes folks, that's my foot.

Don't you love the delightful blue at the base of each toe?

And then there is the puffy little knot just below the second toe.

mmmmm, note to self: do NOT set the leg of a heavy antique dining room chair down on a bare hurts!

Ok, so right now I'm really glad that my daugher's wedding (on Saturday --- THIS Saturday!) is not of the very formal kind that requires me to wear lovely new white Crocs will be just fine, thank you.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Deja Vu of a different kind.....

I spent some time yesterday afternoon writing addresses on the envelopes that I will send wedding announcements out in.

Since this is going to be a small wedding, my daughter invited mostly just her very immediate family that lives in our area, and I am sending out announcements with a photo of her and her soon-to-be-hubby to the rest of the family and friends that are scattered about the country.

As I sat and addressed I had that odd sensation of "I've been here before", thinking about similar August evenings 24 years ago when I was writing many of these same names on announcements -- announcements of her arrival in this world.

Its been a very fast 24 years -- probably more so for me than for her.

As I recall there were a few tears spilled then too --- maybe not as many as our "love affair" was just beginning then -- I can tell that I best have several hankies in my pocket in 12 days -- I'm sure I'm going to need them!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

its that feeling of deja vu

as I sat and watched, fascinated, horrified, at the pictures from Minneapolis.

Its been almost 18 years since the Loma Prieta earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area, and those pictures last night were all too familiar.

It was made even stranger as I listened to Keith Olbermann describe the event in words that were poetic, beautiful even, regardless of the terrible situation.

Weirder yet that his was a voice we heard that night in October, 1989, as he was a sports caster then, in the Bay Area for the World Series games that were interrupted by the quake; suddenly turned news caster, describing the destruction around him.

And the reports of a hundred little miracles --- the school bus that didn't go over the edge; the Red Cross facility practically at arms reach; the Red Cross official that was ON THE BRIDGE and helped those kids get out of that bus as it lay at an odd angle; the whole class of student nurses in the Red Cross building to aid all those kids as they came off the bus ----- no sir, it was not any of those kids day to die.

Then the stories that rip your heart out as one young man described his last words with his fiance as she was on the bridge saying to him "the bridge I'm on is collapsing" and then the awful silence. I wonder if he has found her yet, I wonder if she survived or if she is one of the bodies they are searching for this morning.

And finally the anger at a political situation that has continued over the past 6 years to drum the word terror into our ears over and over until one of the first questions out of our collective mouths is "Was it an act of terror?" And yes, it was terror for those people on the bridge, but not THAT kind.

Monday, July 30, 2007

more thoughts about Harry Potter (SPOILER ALERT!)

As I said in yesterday's post, I'm going to talk about themes in The Deathly Hallows, so proceed at your own risk.

Over on her blog, novelist Erica Orloff has been talking about symbolism in her work and the work of other writers.

The symbolism in Rowling's work is pretty clear -- to me anyway. If ever there was a symbol in a modern day novel of Christ, Harry is it. He walks willingly and without fight into what he sees as his death with the idea that he will be saving his friends. Greater love has no man.....

The power of this final book continues to grow in my mind as I continue to consider all its meanings days after finishing it.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I finished reading The Deathly Hallows

last night. Ok, it only took me a week longer than all those kids that started reading as soon as they got their hands on it and kept reading until they were done, but I've had to do a lot of other stuff too!!

If you haven't finished and don't want it spoiled, STOP READING THIS NOW! I'm not going to spoil it for you on purpose, but I am going to talk about story themes!

In the area I live in, there is a large group of folks with a well know leader of their group that thinks they need to tell us what we should read -- a fact that annoys me not a little.

I think he could do with reading the Harry Potter series. One thing I have noticed and adore about Rowling's books is that no matter how dark things may look, good always triumphs. And at the base of that good is always love. If every kid that has read this series would be as willing as Harry is at the end to do the right thing our world would be a much better place.

In my opinion, though, there are still other books that could spring out of this series, even though Harry is no longer a student at Hogwarts.

I am awed as an aspiring writer by Rowling's ability to keep track of hundreds of characters and make each and every one of them a fully rounded flat cardboard cutouts here....she must spend hours writing back stories on every one of wonder she says she has lots of material that didn't make it into the books.

No matter what she writes next, I'll be lining up to buy it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Odder and odder......

most peculiar things -- after posting last week about looking for a friend from high school maybe I'm just hyper-aware, but last night was WEIRD!

We watched a new show on TV called Saving Grace. While I would not recommend this show to any household with kids (WAY too mature subject lines), it was odd beyond belief.

For one thing, the actress that plays the lead role (Holly Hunter) reminds me a lot of my missing friend -- the body build, hair color, the "in your face" attitude. Then during the episode there is a scene where she's interacting with this black and white cow (which made me think of the seat covers in the '57 Chevy)


ok, I'm still trying to get someone to answer on that phone number in So Cal that's listed to Catherine far it just rings and rings. I'll keep trying tho', after all, its summer and people go on vacation.....

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

looking for "closure"

Closure is a word that has come to mean something more than just to reach the end.

People who have had loved ones murdered look for "closure" in a death sentence for the one found guilty of the crime as if that will bring their loved ones back.

Certainly there seems to be a human need to "finish the book" and find the answers for mysteries unsolved. It is almost as if we are hard wired to keep searching for whatever it is we have lost.

As I wrote about yesterday, for some reason this case in Grand Junction, CO, where the mother of 3 children (Paige Birgfeld) disappeared has set me off trying to find an answer to my own "unsolved mystery".

This is a mystery that I have been puzzling over since the late 1970's. During those times when my life is crazy hectic I don't think about it as much, but it is always lurking in the back of my brain.

I understand to a degree the need to find even the body --- at least then you know the answer to the puzzle --- its the not knowing that makes you nuts.

So, in an attempt to help myself make since of this puzzle, I've decided to talk about it here. Who knows, its a World Wide Web, maybe by putting all this "out there" someone will know someone that knows something.....stranger things have happened!

My ongoing mystery has to do with the "disappearance" of a woman that I had known since childhood.

We were introduced by our school district in the fifth grade. I was transfered into the "smart" class (I hated how this was classified in the early '60s -- like we needed to be labeled?!). Like being the new kid on the block, I was a little lost and she was willing to be my friend.

We were an odd pair. She was the tall, thin, blonde and everyone in our little suburban town knew her mother. I was the scrawny, awkward, brunette that no one knew. Behind our respective pairs of glasses we saw something of a kindred spirit, and we just "clicked".

So it was from grade 5 through junior high school. We survived "Slam books", PE and not being invited to the dances together. Our first 2 years in high school we went to different schools, but as soon as we were in the same school again, we were together a lot.

She learned to drive and had her own car, (a 1957 Chevy - RED - that she recovered the seats in with unborn calf skin --- very interesting black and white "fur") and during our junior year in high school, we cut a lot of classes together. (Something that I'm not particularly proud of now, in fact I now consider it to be the reason I didn't find any direction for going on to college, which I think now was a serious mistake.)

She graduated in December ahead of me in May back in the day when girls who were married and pregnant couldn't stay in school.

Through the years she married a couple more times, and both of us moved to California, and we kept in touch until 1979. Then she just disappeared.

The last time I saw her was over Halloween of 1978. We drove to Simi Valley where she and her 3rd husband lived at the time. Her son had gotten to be a good looking 9 year old, and her mother (who's husband had died a year or so before) was living with them too.

At Christmas a year later I got a letter with pictures of her new baby and that picture of her dressed in a belly dancing costume. She said she was using the name Sheherazade and doing some dancing in a club.

That was the last letter. Later someone told me that her husband had said that she just walked away. I just can't believe that.

So, yesterday I spent some time on line looking in any place I could to try and find any record of her or her sons.

Among the many records I found a possible clue, and I'm still trying to follow it up. There is always that chance she did "walk away" but to another husband, and what name would that be? One record yesterday gave me hope that might be true, but so far I can't confirm anything.

So, here are the names, and if any one knows anything about these folks, I'd really love to find some closure here.

maiden name: Catherine Lillian Wilson
first married name: Bliss
second married name: Greening
third married name: Popp (husband's first name: Bruce)

sons: Edward Bliss -- I believe was adopted by Bruce Popp, so his name would be Edward Popp -- he was born in August, 1969, would be almost 38 years old now

Bruce Robert Popp (born in 1979, he would be about 28 years old now

the other clue found yesterday: there is a Bruce Robert Popp, age 28 in Southern California listed as having a relative named Catherine Lillian Russo, age 57

Yes, that sounds like a match, but so far, no luck locating a phone number for Bruce Robert, and no answer at the phone number found for a Catherine Russo....

I'm still searching.........

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

it reads like a mystery novel -- I think I know how it ends

the local papers have been full of articles about a Grand Junction woman (Paige Birgfeld) who disappeared the end of June.

She was working a dozen angles to stay at home with her kids and hang on to the big house she was granted in a divorce settlement....selling kitchen goods and maybe herself to do it.

It really does read like a mystery novel -- she visits with an ex-husband and never gets home; her cell phone goes right to voice mail even though she would never turn it off; her car found burning; then the discovery of the business no one knew she had -- yes, all the elements are there for a very bad ending....

It also reads very like a story I know from my past. I had a childhood friend that disappeared in the late 1970s. Supposedly just walked away from her husband and her 2 sons. Trouble is, I have never believed it. I just have never been able to find out much about it because we lived too far away from each other and we were notorious for not writing regularly.

I still have those last pictures -- her sons -- one as just a baby and one as a 10 year old in a Dracula Halloween costume she had made him -- and one of her, in her belly dancing costume, her blonde hair hanging loose below her waist, looking like there was no way she could be almost 30 and have had 2 kids.....

It is this huge unanswered nagging question......WHY? or maybe who? If I ever fall into some money I'm going looking.......

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What I did on my Play Day

I have been fascinated by Artist Trading Cards for a while now, and I recently got a book that talks about a variety of techniques for creating special papers, etc., for them.

So on Sunday, I spent several hours working on different techniques and ideas.

This is the first one I did. I had scanned a map of the area of California where Nevada City is and printed it out.

Next I brushed a thin coat of gesso over the top, leaving the area that says Nevada City uncoated.

Then I glued the picture of the Miner's Foundry across the bottom and the little bear cutout (with a layer of torn tissue paper under it) in the top corner.

Finally I used silver gel pen to letter at the top.

The back ground of this one is a piece of paper towel that I had used colored markers on then sprayed with water to "bleed" the color. After I dryed it with the hair dryer, I used a rubber stamp of a bear.

The bear and the letters are highlighted with a glitter gel pen.

This one is my favorite of the three.

I used a rubber stamp of 2 bears sitting back to back. Stamping on black construction paper with bleach created the orangy looking back ground paper.

After the bleach had dried, I brushed gesso over the top to create the shadow effect.

Then I used a gold gel pen to do the drawing and lettering over the top.

After working on the art cards, I spent some time working on the altered couture project I have going. Having finished the bottom band and the neck band, I finally decided what color and pattern I would use on the button bands for the front.

This is a coffee colored yarn and I'm working a knit 2, purl 2 ribbing with an extra knit 2 in the center which will be where it gets folded over to make a double layer.

I'm working the button side first so I can keep track of how many rows it is then I can work out the right placement for the button holes on the other side.

It was nice having a play day and experimenting with new ideas. Now I'm ready to go back to work on the other projects!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Visiting the Art Festival

In the time we have been back in Colorado, we have made it a tradition to visit an area in Denver twice a year.

The original reason for this visit was that it is one of the few places in Colorado that has a specific restaurant that reminds us of where we called home for 30 years in California.

And so we make the treck to Cherry Creek at Christmas time (to look at the decorations, do a little shopping and eat lunch in that restaurant) and around the 4th of July when they hold a nationally known arts festival (and of course eat lunch in that restaurant!)

This year this trip had even more importance to me than usual. I had applied to the show this year -- and been turned down -- and I really wanted to take a good look at who my "competition" was.

For those of you who are not familiar with how this process works, when you apply to an Art show, you must submit photos of your work -- usually between 3 and 6 pictures -- and the "jury" (love the sound of that -- are you "guilty?" or not) determines from those few pictures rather or not you will have the opportunity to display and sell your work on the street for 3 days. (Oh yeah, and they charge you a fee to "judge" you)

Without sounding too much like I'm bragging, I'd like to say that I've concluded that my work is good enough to compete with the people that were judged "good enough". No one else in the entire show is doing what I do with the same materials, and my craftsmanship is absolutely as good.

The question then is, "so why didn't I get in?". And I believe the answer is that my photographs are not good enough.

These are the pictures I have taken of 5 of our pieces.

These are scans of the pictures of work from the artists that got in to the show.

One of these artists was willing to share with me who does her photographs. In fact, she gave me her card, wrote the photographer's name on the back and told me to tell him she sent me.

So, before we are again sending in applications to this kind of show, I will be trying to find out how much it will cost us to have this guy photograph a few of our pieces.

Meantime, I came away from the show with some ideas for some designs that are quite different that the last few pieces (which are of course quite different from what I was doing a year ago, or two years ago).

I also decided that I'm making myself a little crazy by working on things that are for sale 24/7. Hence forth I'm going to try to set aside one day a week to "play".

On "play" days, I will experiment with new materials, try different things and in general try to step away from the part of my art that I attempt to make a living from and enjoy different things.

I encourage all of you to try this too!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

not knowing what day it is......

The confusing part of being at home during the week and working the weekends is that sometimes I forget what day it is!

This is especially true in a week that has a holiday in the middle! So, yesterday felt like Sunday to me, today feels like Monday, then I'll be totally confused until next Monday.....AAACCCKK!!

Oh well.

Hope you all had a Happy 4th of July and you don't have to work too hard today!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Off setting messages from the mail box.....

back in the middle of June (ok, so that was only 2 weeks ago) I had gotten a standard rejection letter from a publication in response to a picture I had sent of one of my pieces of jewelry. So, I sent off another picture shortly after that. Well, yesterday I got the same standard rejection letter for the second submission {sigh} I can't seem to finish the pieces as fast as that publication can reject them....nuts!

Think I'll send pictures of my newest piece to one of the other magazines.

Meantime, in the same batch of mail (along with the junk and the cable bill) was an invitation to participate in an indoor show aimed at professional women (much more the right customer for my work!) The show takes place in St Joseph, MO, and I'm thinking I got the invite because some of the University Women saw my work there last summer when I did a show in the park. Unfortunately, the show is the same weekend as another I show I have already applied for....well, guess I have a "back up" plan for that weekend, and maybe this one would be a good idea to try for next year.

My cousin called me yesterday afternoon to let me know his mother (my dad's sister, who just lost her husband on Good Friday) is having heart valve replacement surgery on Tuesday. After the testing was complete, the conclusion was that her blood vessels are in great shape, but she has a valve that is not working correctly, so they will replace it. She is 84 years old, and I was glad to hear that she wants to have the surgery as there are (in her words) "still things I want to do"!

Anyway, could all of you add her to your prayer lists for this week? Thank you so much!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

feeling like an old fool.....

do you ever run into someone that just always seems to make you feel foolish?

You know the kind -- no matter what it is they do (even if you've been doing it longer), they do it better --

and when you say something, they have some more witty/insightful/eloquent way of saying it that makes everyone turn and look at them like you're not even in the room

you know, THOSE kind of people.....

just saying

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The 10 meal chicken -or- using everything but the squawk

Part of the daily challenge for us is to eat healthy (one of us being a diabetic and one of us fighting high cholesterol) and still stay within a reasonable budget.

One of the ways that we try to do this is by shopping smart. We almost never buy any kind of meat that isn't on sale (we refer to this as buying "used meat" -- you know the kind, its within a day of the last sale date so the store marks it down by 50% so they don’t have to throw it out).

We recently were able to acquire a very large whole chicken on that kind of special. We paid about $6.00 for the chicken, and this is how we used it:

Day 1 – its to our advantage that we know how to cut up a chicken ourselves because its usually even less expensive to buy a whole chicken than one that has been cut up (after all you have to pay for the labor of the meat cutter if they do it)

On the first day we cut the chicken up into frying size pieces. That leaves 10 pieces of chicken: 2 legs, 2 wings, 2 thighs and 4 breast pieces.

I oven fried those pieces for meal #1.

The backs and all of the giblets and extra skin go into a bag in the freezer for making into soup on a cool day. That will be meals #2 and #3.

Day 2 – the lunch meal for both of us was a piece of chicken with macaroni salad. Meal #4 from Ms. Chicken

Day 3 – lunch meal for DH was a piece of chicken with veggies and fresh fruit, making meal #5.

Day 4 – lunch meal for DH was chicken and macaroni salad, meal #6.

Day 5 – We picked all of the meat off the remaining breast pieces and made 2 pans of enchiladas. We ate half of the first pan that night for meal #7.

The second pan of enchiladas went into the freezer and will be meals #8 and #9.

Day 6 – Finished off the last of the first pan of enchiladas for meal #10.

By my figuring, that means each of those meals cost about $0.60 for the protein source.

I don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to get a chicken that cheaply since the rising price of corn to the chicken ranchers will likely raise the price of chicken (and a lot of other groceries – like cereal, milk, beef and corn on the cob!) . But we’ll keep on searching out those used meat bargains!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hot Cat Tires?!

I subscribe to a magazine that helps me sort out the art shows that I apply to. It also includes articles about doing shows, etc., including some really funny pieces about the strange things that have been seen at shows.

The current issue arrived yesterday, and I just had to share this paragraph:

A woman stopped at my booth and was drawn to the most expensive selection of art jewelry. She turned to her friend and, commenting on a high-style piece, tried to use the French fashion phrase haute couture {ot-ku-'tur}: "Now that there one? it's the Hot Cat Tire one."

This had me ROTFLMAO!!!! I can tell you it brought to mind the way we mis-speak, especially when we are trying to show off.

How about a little horsie do over (hor d'oeuvre)? [what is it about French that always trips us up? I know, its the odd spelling...don't they know what a consonant is???]

and then at our house there is the peeled cat. This came about from my husband saying as we traveled on the highway "look, someone peeled a CAP" meaning the outside tread off of a tire (you see these along the roads all the time)....but my daughter heard it as "look, someone peeled a CAT" ...... ok, maybe this is why she has such an odd sense of humor (she couldn't have gotten it from me!) and maybe this is why she has noticed that racoons laying dead by the road don't seem to have "blown up" on collision with whatever killed them (the research continues!)

anyway, just thought I'd share those odd thoughts with y'all today

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What's wrong with American Idol?

For those of you who know me, you know that I don't do Reality TV. I find most of it to be rude, crude, boring and not worth wasting my time on.

There has been a lot of uproar this year about American Idol. It seems we can't really reward truly talented amateurs, but we can spend hours viewing, talking about, celebrating anybody that is willing to sell their soul to the commercial devil and act like an idiot on stage.

We could take a good long look at the British version of that show.

What's wrong with American Idol? Let's start with 2 of the 3 "judges" and one of them is NOT Simon.

If you want to hear what this show REALLY should be about, go listen to these two clips on YouTube.....and remember the name Paul're going to be hearing it in the future



What we need is a show that is really interested in REAL talent not all that noise we've been hearing

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Jewelry and "Grace Notes"

Yesterday I was talking about a piece I had submitted for publication. Since there seemed to be some interest in seeing what it was, I've included a link here so you can go and check it out on my other blog.

Meantime, just a preview, here are pictures of the three newest pieces I have completed.

Tigereye Necklace

Verisite Necklace

Malachite Necklace

Yesterday a new column appeared in our local paper entitled Grace Notes. Nicely written, and she takes on some subjects that I've been talking about here.

In her column she says: "I believe language is powerful, especially poetry, that words can be weapons or gifts, that healing is always possible, and that we are each more holy and worthy than we think."

If you'd like to take a look at the whole column (and some of her earlier work too), this link will take you to her column.

Its a pleasure to see some POSITVE thought in a newspaper among all the reports of murder and war.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

papering the walls with rejection slips.....

a while back I had submitted a picture of a piece of jewelry to a magazine for consideration of publication

yesterday I got the standard form letter saying they are not interested....


When sending in jewelry there really are only 2 or 3 magazines, so its pretty limiting....

guess I'll send in a picture of one of the new pieces and see if they like that any better....

Monday, June 11, 2007

just where is Broadway going?

We watched the Tony awards last night.

I give it a mixed review.

Opened and closed by one of Broadway's Grand Dames, Angela Lansbury, I can't help but wonder what she thinks of the piece that swept up so many of the awards. I was disgusted by it....if I want to see that kind of obscene language and artless stomping around I could just go see a movie....

There were, however, some brighter parts of the show. The host of awards to The Coast of Utopia which is a 9 hour play series with some of the most AMAZING costumes I've ever seen.

And except for the scene from the big winner, the scenes from the musicals were great. I think I'd like to have a cast recording of the new Kander/Ebb production feels like good old time Broadway musical style ... and CLASS!

Friday, June 08, 2007

What is "Art"?

PBS recently did a 3 part series titled Craft in America. Because it ran at 2:00 A.M., I recorded the programs for watching later (ok, some mornings I'm awake then, but I try not to make a habit of it!)

This of course afforded me the pleasure of enjoying the entire 3 hours when I was ready (as well as being able to pause it for a break as necessary without missing any of it).

I watched the entire tape in one sitting the other evening, and it was excellent. Well produced, great music behind the scenes (I HEAR those tunes, even find the lyrics swimming through my head even when they are just background to a scene).

PBS (and most of the rest of the world) classifies the work of these artists as craft (real ART being only those who paint I suppose). I feel honored to be part of that amazing group as well.

It was interesting to hear one of the people who works in clay talk about his work as "a statement of what makes me angry", and his work reflects that, beautifully executed but dark.

My vision of my art (and a good many of the other people presented in the program) really has 3 parts:

Part 1 Can I make you smile?

A good many of my plush creations fall in this catagory. I work with fabrics and other accompaniments to create almost cartoon like animals and birds. Plush, especially at the adult collector level is much more about comforting the soul of the collector, and I tend to do this in ways that also makes my collectors smile.

Part 2 Is it beautiful?

This is what I do when I work with beads to create jewelry or other beaded things that are decorative. The search for beauty in our sometimes confusing world is what makes this more joy than work. Its challenges keep my mind working as I create each piece as a one of a kind work of "art".

Part 3 As offered prayer

The icons and the eggs created with religious symbols are made more for my need to connect than with thought of being able to sell them.

As we watched the tape, my husband commented that he did not have my discipline to work on things when we were not scheduled right away for a show.

It really is not discipline except in terms of what it is I'm working on. Since I was very young I have made things with my hands. The creative process is ingrained so deeply that I am convinced I brought it with me from the world before my birth. I can not imagine NOT making something (and it has lead me to experiment with a huge number of materials and projects).

If you are at all inclined to create things with your hands, I highly recommend you try to see this PBS series.

So, what is art to you?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

How far is too far?

This little blurb appeared in the Denver paper yesterday morning.

Personally I think this is just a little over the disturbs me that we are using these kind of product names and images to sell something....

I'm convinced that this would NOT be what Jesus would drink....and that this would bring on another incident of tossing the money changers out of the temple......

just saying.....

Thursday, May 31, 2007

thoughts about art and its process

Over at The Colourguru there is some pretty awesome art work to take a look at.

One of the things that caught my eye was a bit on the side of the blog that talks about the process of making art. The question being posed was rather it is the striving for quality or the continuous process of quantity that makes for great art.

The conclusion was that we must keep DOING to grow and that it is that growth that makes great art.

I have felt for the last week that I was pretty much stuck on most levels, and consequently have not accomplished much. There is a major economic component to this situation, but there is also something else that is part of the mix.

For a while now I have tried to work on pieces that are something that I think I can sell.

With the animals this is definately true as I have long since stepped out of the "I'm a collector" mode, and I have no real reason to make these otherwise.

The jewelry pieces are also pretty much in this mode as I don't wear much jewelry myself (just a narrow gold wedding band is pretty much it).

A while back I had started in on the drawings and planning for a triptych of the archangels, and I was looking forward to working on that piece. The comments of a potential collaborator on the piece that it wasn't good enough to do anything with prompted me to just put all the drawings in a folder and file it away.

Here then are the issues of my frustration:

1. If my collaborator is no longer interested in working on this, how do I do anything further. The faces and hands are essential and that is generally the work of that collaborator. So now what?

2. If there is truly nothing in this piece that gives me any chance to sell it, how can I justify spending what it will cost to make it? (Ok, there probably isn't any justifing possible, given the current situation)

3. Is there some other way (so far nothing has come to me)

And so such is the state of my inactivity of late.....a sort of irritated restlessness because I'm not really working on anything and it annoys me.....

Perhaps I should just go work on something else entirely.....inspiration for something would be good!