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 appropriate......you 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"