Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day weekend...

... is the "unofficial" start of summer. And lately it's been feeling like summer. Every time I shove the windows open because the house is too hot I say a tiny prayer of gratitute that the last of the 80 inches of snow, that was still on the ground a mere two months ago, is gone. The wild roses are blooming and the air is perfumed like a Victorian bath. I've been gardening whenever I have the opportunity, pulling weeds and trimming edges mostly. I planted lots of annuals in pots scattered around the yard. 

I was glad to see that the bleeding heart that I thought had died is struggling back. I had one like this where I used to live and it took me a long time to find another one. Most bleeding heart blooms in the spring, then it's done. This variety continues to bloom up until frost and I hope it will thrive this year.

This morning I picked the first strawberries. I got about a dozen ripe ones, ate about half of them as I stood there and put the other half on my granola. Allowed to ripen on the plant they're soooo much sweeter than what you get in the grocery store, where they're picked just as they turn pink two weeks ago in Florida.

A few days ago I saw a black snake going into my shed. These are the good guys that keep poisonous snakes, mice and rats away. I'm not really afraid of them, if I see them first. I think I got over it when I lived in a 125-year-old house in the country and walked into the bathroom to find a 5-foot black snake draped across the sink and the toilet. My ex-husband and I had to wrestle it into a pillow case to get it out of there. It's when they see ME first and squiggle quickly away that they startle me. Yesterday I saw one curled up in the space under the roof and went to take a picture. I waited to get a good shot... it stuck it's head out and looked at me. Then there was a second head! Two of them? I hope they're not making little snaky babies in there. Now I keep a broom stick beside the door and poke things before I go in... so I get to see the snake before it sees me.

And a note about this national holiday: I'm a pacifist. I don't believe that war is the way to handle conflicts between nations. But until we evolve as spiritual beings there will always be those who believe that killing each other is the only way to solve our problems. Realistically, when our country does resort to war, we must give thanks to those that choose to put themselves in harm's way to defend our beliefs. So, on Monday I'll be saying a prayer to thank the ones that gave the ultimate sacrifice - nearly 5,500 souls in Iraq and Afganistan so far. And, I'll be praying for Peace, too.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Who Knew??

I've been a doodler forever. Black ink on white paper, filling as much empty space with designs as possible. I thought I might have a mild form of Horror vacui, (cenophobia). It's the way I occupy my mind and my hands when the TV is on, and passes the time when I'm working in one of the galleries and business is slow. I've always been a fan of M.C. Escher's graphic work and optical illusions. One of my earlier ones is above. I also did a few around words, with a little color:

Recently I read a blog post by Catherine Witherell, who makes beautiful art journals, and found out that I'm NOT THE ONLY ONE! And that these things have NAMES! They're called either Zendoodles or Zentangles and the internet is covered with them. There are YouTube videos out there (see my previous post) and I found a Flickr group containing thousands of them and saw many of the patterns I've used being done by others.

The first one shown in this post took days to complete because it's tee-tiny. So is the "Peace" one. The desire to do these comes and goes. I'll work on one for a few days, a little obsessively, then the pens and the sketchbook are put away for awhile. I had just done the one above when I found out that (seemingly) everyone is doing this. I have mixed feelings - a little like the world has stolen what I thought was mine - and the joy that there's so much inspiration to carry this even further:

I found out that by simply drawing a shape with a large pen, or dividing the page into sections, and filling in each section with a different design makes the work go so much faster and, I think, a more interesting final product. I guess it's true, though, that there really aren't any new ideas.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Love this!

Thanks to Catherine Witherell of Happy Day Art for finding and sharing this! I'm a doodler from way back...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mother Nature's Fury

Yesterday was the first of the summer series of shows called Art in the Park in Blowing Rock, NC. There's one every month from May through October. My lovely sister volunteered to come help me out with this show and I greatly appreciate that. Even more special was the opportunity for the two of us to spend some time together here in the mountains. (She lives closer to my Dad, so when I see her, it's usually when I go down to the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area.) She hadn't  been up to see me in a couple of years.

She arrived on Friday evening, just before a hellacious thunderstorm. We had hail the size of a quarter and lightning popping all around and big, big thunder. Torrential rain and wind. She'd been here about 45 minutes, when the power went out - I heard more than one transformer pop. I had planned on cooking dinner for us (a rare thing, but I was willing to do it for her!)but the power was still off. We waited until the rain let up and decided to go to town and get dinner. Got in the car. Drove as far as the bridge and backed up and abandoned the idea. The creek was almost to the top of the bridge and we were afraid that if we went out, we might not be able to get home! Poor Sis is extremely afraid of lightning and thunder, probably after being knocked off her feet by a nearby strike when she was about two.

So we warmed up soup on the gas stove and made sandwiches for dinner. (If you call "warming up" cooking, then I guess I DID cook after all!) We laid on the fouton and talked until it was dark, then went to sleep. The power finally came back on about 10:15.

We hauled our butts over to Blowing Rock early on Saturday morning and set up the booth. This took longer than usual because I had a new layout in my head that I hadn't actually ever set up. It required a few rounds of moving things to get it "just so" and the jewelry displayed like I wanted it. Then we settled in and waited for the customers to start spending money. And we waited. And waited.... waited some more. I made my booth fee back, but not much past that. I think I managed to pay for gas and lunch.

And, then, to top off the sucky day, the black clouds rolled back in about 3:00, but the show promoters didn't come around to tell us we could pack up early until we started hearing thunder. Nothing like the feeling of being under a metal tent frame when there's an electrical storm going on! By the time we got everything broken down and I retrieved the car, it was pouring buckets and we just heaved all that soaking wet stuff into the car.

Situations like this make me wonder why I even bother. Sis kept asking me that question. She's been with me for a few shows, but never one that was really successful (she's starting to think it has something to do with her!) I believe it has to do with hope. No one ever spends time taking their best photos, filling out forms, and paying huge application and booth fees with the thoughts that it won't be profitable. Some shows just aren't good, and there's no way to tell ahead of time if you'll make any money. (Side note: Yes, I can tell ahead of time about SOME shows - I never do festivals, for instance, because the focus is usually on something else, like music or food, and the art is just a side note. So I don't even apply to them. This series of shows in Blowing Rock have always been good in the past.) And you don't haul all your crap around - a whole carload of crap, just to display a couple of little boxes of jewelry - like you're some sort of turtle, or gypsy, just for the fun of it. It's really not fun at all unless you're making money.

So I'll be spending the next few days drying things out. When we pulled the tent out of the car, with the canopy top still attached, there were baloons of water trapped in the fabric. Things are spread all over the porches getting air. Table covers are in the washing machine. My car windows are down as we speak, to try to dry out the carpet, and I'm keeping an eye out for what looks to be our third day in a row of thunder and lightning. Whoops... just heard a far-off rumble... gotta go close the car windows and get this posted before I have to unplug the modem again.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Etsy Sale!!

I just finished uploading the last of the sale items into my Etsy Shop. Lots of goodies, lots of bargains, so check it out.

It's time to let go of some of these and let them find good homes. It's time to make some money so I can buy more metal clay and make new things. These pieces have been a burden on my inventory for too long now and I need to clean house so that I can let my creativity flow without my inner voice saying "you already have enough inventory". Help me out, won't you?

Click here to go directly to my shop, or click on the scrolling widget to the right if you see one that you like.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I Miss My Mom

Photo gratefully borrowed from Anne Taintor

Mother's Day is a hard day for me. I lost my Mom to kidney disease almost three years ago and today, especially, I miss her a lot. She was a brave, smart woman of the 50's and raised two brave, smart daughters. I miss her big smile every time she saw me and her incredible sense of humor. She loved a practical joke and I remember one Saint Patrick's Day when she used food coloring to dye our neighbor's cat's white bib a bright green, then sent him back home. She told us not to tell who did it, that it would be a surprise to our Irish neighbors, but we were little kids and couldn't keep a secret. She could take a joke as well as give one, and April Fool's Day was chaos in our house. Everyone was trying to top everyone else's tricks.

The photo above was something that she would have done. She loved to cook and loved to watch people enjoy what she created in her kitchen. The only time she refused to cook (in later years) was on Thanksgiving. She didn't like the fact that, after spending all day cooking, everyone gulped down the food and ran back to the television to continue watching football. She wanted people to sit at her table for a long time, enjoy seconds, thirds, more wine, and good conversation. She and my Dad entertained often and Dad worked with people from all over the world and brought many of them to our house for some good old home cooking.

She suffered a lot in her last years. Her failed kidneys required that she have dialysis for 3 hours, 3 days a week. It exhausted her. She had to be on a resitricted diet, which frustrated her, but she managed to figure out how to make what she could eat delicious. Her body declined and she made her own decision to stop the treatments. More evidence of her bravery.

So, thanks Mom, for all you did for me and for letting me be who I needed to be. For understanding when things didn't go as planned, and for loving me the best way you knew how.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Baubles, Boys and Baseball

Last Thursday's Trunk Show near Lynchburg, VA went really well. Once Barbara's friends reaized that this wasn't Silpada - that every piece is hand made and most of them are one of a kind - there was a little bit of  a frenzy! Everyone wanted to have something unique that they wouldn't see on anyone else.

I had a basket of clearance items and I sold quite a few of these. Some of them had been around a long time and I'm glad they have new homes and that their owners are happy they got a bargain. Everything that's left in the basket will be going into the Sale section of my Etsy Shop in the next few days.

Trish was particularly amazed at some of the prices!

The boys were out of school on Friday for a teacher work day and it was great to have the opportunity to spend some time with them. Friday night we met another family at the Lynchburg Hillcats baseball game. It was a beautiful evening to be out - the scoreboard said it was 84 degrees, and a light breeze kept us comfortable.  Minor League Baseball! It's so much cheezy fun! I've been to many Durham Bulls games and remember all the good times at the old Durham Athletic Park, as seen in the movie "Bull Durham", one of my all-time favorites.

The kids and their friends ate junk and ran around like little crazy people while Granny Zoe handed out money - just exactly what's supposed to happen! No judgement here. I indulged in a hot dog and beer and kettle corn. It wouldn't have been a baseball game otherwise! And, the Hillcats won 8-2 against the Potomac Nationals.

This week I'll be updating the Etsy Shop and getting ready for my next show (Art in the Park, Blowing Rock, NC on May 15). Also, since I now have some money in my pocket, I want to buy flowers. I'll wait another week to plant anything, though, as it was 28 degrees at my house last Thursday morning.