Tuesday, October 27, 2009

considering the "why bother" factor

I've been doing the thing I loathe most in the whole world this morning -- summarizing the month's expenditures and trying to figure out where the money will go in the next month.

Yesterday we got the notice from the company the DH retired from, telling us what the new cost of insurance for him will be for next year. It went up by 22%.

In fact, what we will have to lay out every month for the foreseeable future just for medical expenses is going up 53% beginning in January.

Great -- now someone tell me again how you can keep up with costs climbing 53% when your income remains flat.

I've been trying to clean out books and things by listing them either on Ebay or Amazon, but that has not raised much.

Don't even talk to me about doing a show to sell my art -- I have no idea where the money would come from to do one, and doing one that doesn't generate a profit would be a financial disaster.

Someone explain to me what good forgiveness is if you can never recover from your mistake.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

confessions of a recovering procrastinator

You may recall that yesterday I was talking about self sabotage.

If I had actually tried to get the listing done BEFORE I wrote that post, it would have been more about the "I feel like an idiot" factor.

I spent several very frustrating hours yesterday afternoon trying to get a store set up on a new artist's website.

It was the same issue I've had with similar sites before --- I just couldn't figure out how to create a banner that would fit the size requirements both ways --- I could get the height right, or I could get the width right, but not both at the same time.

Finally I just gave up and put the computer away (before I was tempted to shove it off the table!)

This morning I was fiddling around in another program on my desk top machine and had one of those "what does this button do" moments (pretty much everything I know about any kind of graphics program has been discovered that way).

Quite by accident I found a button in Adobe that would let me modify both aspects of a file AT THE SAME TIME!! Oh joy!!

And while the new banner isn't real exciting, it does exactly match the graphics I am currently using both on my studio blog and on my website, which is exactly what I had in mind --- that whole "branding" thing

So, the new "shop" is set up -- you can take a look by clicking here, and I'm feeling much smarter for now (I'm sure there is a new hurdle right around the corner!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

self sabotage?

Isn't he cute?

I finished him the day before yesterday.

I have every intention of getting him out on a site (somewhere) and making him available for sale

You know what they say about intentions? As in the road to hell is paved with good ones?

So yesterday, day one of "he's finished, let's get him listed", I had a bunch of packages to get ready to go out from Ebay and Amazon sales, and I didn't get him out there.

And today? Well, no packages, but instead of getting up when the dog woke me the first time, I went back to sleep and didn't get up until 8:00 -- which is WAY late in my world, usually reserved for days when I'm sick.

(You know, actually sick, not just vaguely achy because the weather has changed - AGAIN - and the ol' bones are creakin')

So here it is, after 10 am, and I need to go get some breakfast, and I am now in day two of "he's finished, let's get him listed".

I'm trying hard here to make a change in a longstanding pattern of putting off what is unpleasant and/or difficult until it can not be avoided.

So, I'm going to get some breakfast, then I'm going to get on my laptop and see if I can't get this done!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

is this an actual answer?

this card arrived in the mail yesterday

I didn't recognize the name on the return address label, so I had a few minutes of "what? who?" as I walked from the mailbox to the house where I could properly open it up

(ok, I could have just ripped, but no, it's one of my "monk like" things -- no jagged ripped envelopes in my files!)

Inside the card a note apologizing for the delay in getting my prize money to me as the president of the Royal Gorge Quilt Council had been on vacation.


I didn't even know I had won this prize.

So I went back online to the State Fair premium book and looked up all of the extra prizes that were being offered by different organizations for catagories in the fair.

And there it was ---

In memory of Maggie Langil. Addie Allison, Rosella Neilsen and Beth Micklejohn the Royal Gorge Quilt Council offers $25.00 for the 1st Place winner in...Class 414 Quilt, applique, hand quilted.

I'm speachless -- this was the quilt that won the blue ribbon

--- the quilt that was moved from one catagory to another without them asking me (something that will never happen again -- I'm told -- because I made a fuss about it)

uh, no wonder I didn't know about the extra prize

Even stranger, this is the second time in two weeks that I have been rewarded for this part of my art work --- last week I signed and sent off the contract to do a trunk show about my art quilts

So, at least for the moment, I seem to be getting a sort of confirmation that this is a direction worth going in


Monday, October 19, 2009

....about that fund raising....

I don't usually post anything on this blog that talks about selling my art or anything else, but right now I'm using anything I can to raise a little money to help offset those medical bills.

So, as I've been cleaning out my large stash of books, I've decided that anything I can't list on Amazon will be going directly to the front page of my website under the catagory "Garage Sale"

If you're interested in browsing, just click on the garage sale sign and hop on over to see what's available.

(and I'll be adding more!)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rant Mode

Have I mentioned lately that I think the health care system in this country is broken?

Just as I suspected would happen, the phone calls have begun from the hospital regarding the payment of the bill.

Last month they called and wanted to know about payment and I asked them if they had billed the insurance company yet (after all it had been over 60 days since the surgery) and they said no, they hadn't billed because the insurance company had refused to pay on the June outpatient procedure.

HELLO? The July thing was NOT outpatient --- they needed to bill it!

Ok, so this month I got the billing for the June thing (which I had already been paying on) and a different billing, with a different account number, for the July thing.

I wrote small checks on both accounts and sent them in along with a letter asking if they would please combine the accounts and I would continue paying on them.

So yesterday I got the call.

Hospital: We need to work out a payment plan
Me: I'm making a payment on this every month
Hospital: We're rolling out a new policy, we used to require payment within 4 months, now we're stretching it out to 15 months
Me: Are you going to combine the accounts?
Hospital: No, we can't do that
Me: So you're going to want me to pay this new amount on both acccounts every month?
Hospital: Yes, that's our policy.

(let me point out here that their new amount is about twice as much as I had been sending them each month, and now they want that amount on each account, which amounts to about 4 times what I had been paying)

Me: So what happens if I can't pay that amount?
Hospital: The bill will go to collections.
Me: And if I agree to this and then at some point I can't pay it what will happen?
Hospital: The bill will go to collections.

I agreed to their payment plan, but I can almost bet that at some point I'm going to get sent to collections.

We're not getting a raise next year because it's been decided that the cost of living has gone down (HA!), so at some point I'll probably have to decide which is more important --- paying for the ongoing monthly medications that are needed or making that unreasonable payment.

Sure could use some "fund raising" ideas

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blogland is a Small World

This post could also have been titled "Cue the Twilight Zone Music"

Back in another lifetime (we're talking 1970s and 1980s) I worked in Silicon Valley.

For several years I shared those 8 hours a day (or more) with a great gal named Roberta. We did quilting projects together. She taught me to spin, I shared what I knew of weaving, we did natural dye classes together in the Santa Cruz mountains with a great teacher named Ann in the yard of a house that was over 100 years old. We shared victories of finding family members in our searching of family history.

Life happens

Starting in 1989 we were like gypsies (we moved 7 times in 3 years across 3 states)

Roberta moved out of California too

Shortly after I retired and we moved back to Colorado I got a phone call from Roberta's daughter, telling me that she had passed on --- it was a shock

Back on October 3 I wrote a post here where I discussed my sense of returning to activities that I had enjoyed before.

In that post I spoke about a woman in California that writes a blog that I read almost every day (when I miss a day I go back and catch up!). Yesterday it occurred to me that since she lives in the Silicon Valley area and she shares some similar interests (her blog is titled (Spin Dye Knit) that at some time she may have known Roberta too, or heard of the spinning group she had been part of, so I sent her an email and asked.

This morning I got an email back -- not only had she heard of the group, she was part of it, and yes, she knew Roberta.

As I said, Blogland is a small, small world --- now, cue the Twilight Zone music

And weirder still? My sister (who in the past 6 months or so has gotten interested in Family History and drug me back into it) is the one that told me about Spin Dye Knit in the first place because she reads it.

I'm breathless!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ok, I'm working on it

As I said in my last post here, I have been asked to do a Trunk Show, and I'm in the process of thinking about what all that entails.

I used "the google" and found out that trunk shows actually began in the fashion industry, where a designer would pack up the new designs in a trunk (hence the title) and schlepp them from boutique to boutique to sell the year's orders.

I had a conversation with my sister over the weekend about this. And even though she is still recovering from the flu (poor baby, she can't get the shots as she is allergic to eggs and she counts on all us other folks to do so --- and someone she came into contact just didn't do that for her), she was willing to share her experience of attending a trunk show with me.

So here is what she said she has heard discussed at trunk shows (by quilters, that is):

  1. how did the artist get started doing this
  2. what is the process the artist uses to do the work
  3. how has the artist's work progressed from the beginning works to current ones
  4. where does the artist get the ideas for the work
  5. who and what is the artist's inspiration
  6. what is the artist's philosophy about the work

Sounds like the beginning of an outline to me

Friday, October 09, 2009

who me?

It has been an amazingly strange week.

On Tuesday I went into the local fabric store to pick up a couple of quilt batts for tops that were ready and some other odds and ends and I got into a conversation with one of the assistant managers in the store.

By the end of the conversation she knew that I make art quilts, she had invited me to a meeting of the quilt guild that she is president of, and had asked me if I would come and talk at her guild about art quilts.

Last night I went and visited the guild meeting, met some really fun ladies and was told that the program chairman would "mail me a contract" for my "trunk show"

Reality (and a bit of panic) is beginning to set in. Who me? "TRUNK SHOW"?!

Ok, I have a bit of time to think about it, and maybe someone who has ever been to one of these things can tell me what is expected --- please?

Meantime, this week I have sort of figured out that the phase of my artistic life that involved making teddy bears has passed. (In the words of Carlye Simon "that part of our life together is over").

While I have enjoyed that, and it has brought me some monetary rewards and some great friends, what I am interested in and drawn to now has changed, and the collector base has changed, and those shows are how 1)far away and 2)expensive to do

I would rather put the money to shows where I can sell those things that are my current passion

This also means that shortly I will probably be selling off some of my fabrics and supplies for bear making --- so I can get materials for other things

like I said, it's been a strange week

Thursday, October 08, 2009

when watching TV is a good thing

Usually in the evening I work on quilting and knitting while I'm comfortably seated in my recliner in front of the TV.

Some nights the TV is just noise or light entertainment.

Last night was one of those rare occasions when what was on TV actually slowed down the process of the projects.

Since the presidental campaign we have been in the habit of watching Keith Olbermann's show in the evenings (it comes on right at dinner time for us). One of my favorite things is when he does a special comment.

If you are not familiar with him, his show or the special comment, these are the TV media's equivalant of the featured editorial column in the newspaper. He takes on issues of the day that strike him as important and speaks out in a very personal and opinionated way.

Most of the time when I watch these, I agree with him and cheer him on.

Last night he was talking about health care -- not just in the short 5 minute version of a special comment as he usually does, but for a WHOLE HOUR!

While he was talking I was alternately shouting and crying.

Talking about fear -- bad enough that you worry about what the diagnosis will be, but then, especially if you are minimally insured, you worry about how you will ever pay for it. (I remember an interview with a woman during the August town hall meetings where she said "why have the mammogram if you can't afford the cancer?" -- chilling!)

I can not begin to convey the power of what he said, so if you haven't seen it, use this link and go take a look -- or read the text of what he said, although hearing him talk about his father is much more effective.

And Olbermann's show was not the only "stop you in your tracks" show last night.

Later in the evening we flipped over to PBS, where they were showing an episode in their Craft in America series.

One of the artists they interviewed for this episode was a print maker, and they actually showed him at work creating one of the wood block prints. They showed how he uses tracing paper over his original drawing then flips it over to make the imprint on the wood he will carve --- it gave me goosebumps as that is exactly the same process I use when I create one of the stamps that I use -- no one taught me to do this, I just sort of did it -- and he talked about that self same journey of discovery.

I can't wait to see more of the episodes in this year's series.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Slowly I turned

For most of the time since I retired from my corporate job, I have been trying to figure out who the "new me" is.

After all, the way I had defined myself for years before had been where I worked, and as my daughter's mother.

Suddenly both of those identities had been swept away in the sense that I was no longer employed, and my daughter had actually grown up and become her own independent woman.

So what was I supposed to do with the next 30 or so years?

It has been a slow and many times painful journey.

And since I began blogging almost three years ago, I have used this space to talk about the things that have just needed to be blurted out.

In the past few months I have sensed something different -- a sort of returning to things that I had been interested in before and just after my college days -- a returning to the fiber arts and the writing.

Along the way I have found others who, through their own blogs, have turned my thoughts in new ways to those old themes.

One of those blogs is written by a woman who lives in the area of California that we left when we retired. We share a number of things -- and when I read her blog and get a little glimpse into her world I am reminded that a lot of who we are has to do with how we respond to the challenges we face.

She has faced hers with grace. I'm ashamed to say I have not always done so.

I still have much to learn, but I sense a slow turning of the key in a very rusty lock

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Getting satisfaction -- sort of

In response to the comment that ask which piece I saw someone wearing, here is a picture of it.

It took me a couple of days to dig through the photos of jewelry that is gone, but here it is

Interestingly, this was not my favorite of the two pieces on this music theme that I made. I really liked the one that had a trumpet and a keyboard, but the lady that bought this loves it, so it's all ok

Yesterday I got my check from the State Fair for my prize money.

Because of my complaint, next year the fair folks will not change any piece entered to a different catagory without first consulting with the person that entered it.

They have still not satisfactorily answered some of my other questions, but I'll take that little bit of progress anyway.

Time to get busy!