Sunday, March 29, 2009

tackling life from all sides

Tomorrow we sign our new lease and then let the fun begin, packing and more packing and sorting and tossing. I'm actually kinda looking forward to the tossing part as we (especially me) have way too much accumulated stuff. Anyone in the Richmond area looking for just about any knitting book ever published? Because I am selling off almost all of them. So get in touch with me via email or else by the end of this coming week they are all going to Chop Suey books on Cary St. for whatever they'll give me for them. Ditto for about 200 (plus?) other books I have not glanced at for years but still thought I needed until now.

Most jewelry books, other than absolute beginner books, I am keeping. But, I am going through all my jewelry, knitting, art and whatever else magazines and am taking them all to the thrift shop. All that money.... boy. These days I am pretty selective about purchasing magazines, but there was a time when every month found me at Barnes and Noble, coming out the door with every knitting, embroidery, bead and needlework magazine out there in a bag heading for the pile at home. ye gods. You've never seen so many art magazines as are stuffed in this tiny apartment, people. I resolve to do better! I cannot stand so much clutter! It really does hinder the creative process. I can't stand working in a piggish (my definition) atmosphere. Some people can work with trinkets and junk piled to the ceiling. More power to you! But I'm telling you, my nerve pill bottle would be empty in a day if I had that going on here, because there is nothing worse than spending all my time searching for some elusive missing object that I just know is somewhere in the stacks of stuff. I have to have some organization and especially, cleanliness. As it is, this place seriously puts me in the car heading for the loony bin. Hopefully that will all change into glorious la la land after we move.

Today I washed, ironed and organized all my bits of fabric and boxed them in plastic. Then since it was such a gorgeous day, Lucy got a nice long walk and a car ride (yes, I take my dog for a ride in the car just because she loves it so, no particular destination). Afterwards more domestic tasks, then I finished a long standing necklace project that will be posted soon as the recipient receives it.

Lucy is already in bed crying for me to join her. For anyone who is my Facebook friend, check our her new Dogbook profile. =D

One final note to self: do not fill big screen tv size box with oversize hardcover books and then attempt liftoff without bending knees. doh!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Before and After

November 25, 2007, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia. My husband and I travelled as we usually do to visit my parents for Thanksgiving that weekend. The evening of November 25 we took off from where my dad had a photography art show winding down for the day and set off on our own. It was spectacularly cold for a November evening and we had the heat cranking in the car as we drove the road to the beach, just me and Michael, while my parents headed on home. Michael wanted to take a few photos and the stars aligned just right in our lives together to provide us with one of those extra special nights where the scenery on both sides of the road and over the Atlantic was so beautiful that we hardly knew where to look next for a breathtaking shot. I remember feeling safe and happy.

Michael ventured down the road on foot to shoot the moon rising photos. I leaned on the car until it was too cold for anything but retreat into the heated car. There I watched both the scenery and my husband's figure, small in the distance, crouched low against the marsh, getting these lovely pictures that forever remind us both of the dividing line of life- before, and after... for it was at this very moment, although we had no inkling whatsoever, that my husband's oldest brother lay in his bedroom in rural Pennsylvania, dying of a heart attack, surrounded by his faithful animal friends. These pictures depict scenery and atmosphere that are amongst my most treasured memories in life but also often bring me to tears to look at them, for what came the day after.

I am thinking of the "befores" and "afters" in life because we are moving to a new apartment in three weeks. It is an older building, still in the museum district of Richmond, and not as modern by any stretch, but much larger than our current apartment. It is full of windows and light and trees outside, birds and squirrels and people for Mango the cat to look outside and watch for the first time since he came into our lives eighteen months ago. It has wood floors and a dining room, two bedrooms where we can finally have a dedicated workshop and art room for us both instead of our entire dwelling serving as workshop. We are so looking forward to moving forward in our lives, to making this a very positive "after" in our lives together.

I am sure I am not alone in compartmentalizing life into many befores and afters (there are some crazy people out there like me, right?), some of them good, some of them tragic and most of them life changing. Before school and after... before marriage and after... before when I lived at home and after... before we lived in Richmond and after... before this person and this one and that one and this one died and after.. those are the most poignant, of course, but the list goes on.

In the midst of the sorting and packing, I can't help but wonder, what kind of "after" will this move be? What will happen while we live in this new dwelling?

Projecting positive thoughts is honorable but I do believe most people ignore the huge role that luck plays in our lives. How many people out there can honestly say they did it all themselves without any help or luck in the journey? I know I can't. My parents have helped me and helped me and helped me, both emotionally and financially, for which I am forever grateful. My husband has an uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time and he fully acknowledges it. Certainly I feel very fortunate and lucky that at this time in my life, we both have found creative outlets that make us happy and fulfilled and make others happy, too, or at least that is my goal when I create something. All I can hope for is to worry less about the "afters" (is that possible?) and focus on the here and now, while cherishing all the "befores."

Now I am going to take a hot bubble bath, banish all worries, and relax while indulging in a book (The Daily Coyote) and an ice cold diet coke. *sigh*. It'll all work out.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

new hair, new etchings

I am now a redhead! Looks like I need more hair gel though. Frizz city! The excellent hair salon where I have been getting my hair colored the last two years went under in the crappy economy and I am not about to pay what I used to pay for hair trim, color, styling now that they are out of commission so off to Target I went and found a lovely shade of auburn. Two bottles of Miss Clairol later, and voila! A five dollar redhead (two bottles for long hair, with a dollar off coupon). I like it, as does my husband, but I suspect the guys at work will give me some ribbing about it tomorrow. Notice the lovely Spring blossoms!

Recently we watched my mom and dad's little dog, Maggie. She weighs exactly half as much as big kitty Mango. As you can see, all the critters are pals, which is cute to watch. This is a king size bed, which we got several years ago so our dog would have more room to stretch out. I kid you not.

New etching. Catch it on Whimsical Aegean owl, hand- drawn and etched on copper.

Another new etching. Latin script double sided etched copper pendant. Also on my etsy shop. These are both one of a kind pieces. I am having to scale down my production of etchings since we found an apartment we like and are in the process of renting it and have about a month to sort, toss, donate, sell, pack and move to a much larger, two bedroom apartment with wood floors and a real live dining room. What the H is that? I haven't had one in so long! Lots of light, lots of room, lovely view of tall trees and a very green courtyard where pets are allowed, not easy to find at all, without high dollar and many restrictions.

So, busy busy busy. But happy.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

New Design

Busy day today so this is a very short post. I just wanted to acknowledge the designer behind my new background.. Cristi of She offers a lovely and very generous free service and only asks for acknowledgement and her banner on your sidepost in exchange., something I must attend to today. I have a list of things to accomplish the next three days I am off, including etchings for orders (today), two commissioned memory necklaces (work on today), attend to my husband's business papers and mailing list (tomorrow), clean this pig pen apartment (hmm... pick at that all weekend, probably), work on a long standing magazine submission for consideration (far from a done deal, but something I want to try anyway), AND in addition some relaxing knitting and maybe a movie? Plus my husband wants to wander the Museum of Fine Arts this afternoon after some of my jewelry work is completed.
That sounds like alot now that I read it off, and also the list has about ten more things on it. A list is a must for me, or else I flounder and go from one thing, pick it up and put it down, to another task, start it and go on to something else. On and on and then I don't get anything done and frustration ensues. Brrrr.... We seriously need a larger apartment. I can't even say a better organized one, because everything here has its place (it usually just doesn't stay in it, though). Well I feel already like I'm rambling on incoherently so will sign off until I have something decent to say or show. Life right now is just taking care of business and if I can get it done, it has its own satisfaction even if its not that interesting to anyone but me.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

taking care

Today we are up early to get everyone (animals and ourselves) ready for the monthly jaunt to Yorktown Veterinary Hospital to pick up four cases of dog food for Lucy (prescription Hills R/D) and one giant bag of cat food for Mango (Hills prescription R/D kibble). The last few times I have gone by myself with Lucy and that's a nice day for me but it's extra nice to have company today. My husband has one quick appointment on the way and then we are off to travel scenic Route 5 past plantation homes and lovely glimpses of the James River through Charles City County and on to Williamsburg. In Williamsburg we plan to stop at a favorite and most familiar Mongolian buffet (scene of our first date almost 14 years ago plus the best cheap good food I've found anywhere), the yarn shop (return duplicate knitting needles), needlework shop (pick up a tiny pinkeep kit I ordered ages ago) and then on the Colonial Parkway to Yorktown for the pet food. Maybe a trail walk is in order, although a shorter one because Maggie, for all her little dog bundle of energy, just isn't much into walks. I end up carrying her half the way of our shorter walks at home.

It's almost simple how much I've been looking forward to this day and it always is this way and makes me realize something about my life that I've known for a long time-- it needs to be dialed back. I could say it's just because we are on a strict budget (ie- little money) and really don't do much "out there" but it's more than that. This journey always feels special and it's one of the few times we both have the pleasure of living in the moment all day and not worry about work or money or the jewelry I haven't had time or energy to produce or petty wonderings about friends who aren't really friends, the apartment search, and all that sort of thing. It's a take care of ourselves day, that we both dearly need. A time to take in beautiful scenery where the green of spring and the flowers of the season are upon us and a good time for good conversation. The two dogs enjoy the road trips as much as we do, so it's taking care of their needs for companionship and interacting with the environment too.

Tomorrow I'll hand myself back over to the perpetual worry. Today is mine to take care of myself and enjoy.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Some things are too good to be true, oh yes they are

I wish I had pictures. Michael took the camera to take photos of the little apartment with the front and back balcony but I was so appalled at the condition of the place, he knew better than to take any. Honestly, I cannot win when it comes to the living arrangements. This place had a triple slap of white paint all over everything (windows, cupboards and one door clear painted shut) and the wood floors sealed but it couldn't seal the holes, YES, HOLES, I found in the edges of the floor around the walls here and there. The back bedroom window was bolted shut on one side, and had an inch gap on the other bottom side where one could stick their fingers out and give them a good wiggle, or in my case, flip someone off, which is what I felt like doing, namely the lame prospective landlord, who acted like we were wandering through a pot of gold. "Oh, I'll fix that, and that and that," he said whenever I pointed out yet another crumble, crack or hole somewhere in the place. =( And I asked to walk out to the back deck and the guy conveniently did not have the proper key to open the back door. Good for him since I already looked out the back window and saw the three crater size holes poking through the wood floor boards. Jesus Christmas, folks, seriously... So much for my romantic ideals. The place looked like a crack den.

THEN I swung back around to the opposite end of the money spectrum, drove down to Tobacco Row on Shockoe Bottom, where there are glorious loft apartments that have exposed brick walls, huge original wooden beams from when the building was a tobacco warehouse, with a heated pool, hot tub, coffee bar that is free for residents, fabulous floor to ceiling double pane windows, workout room with flat screen tv's, and on and on, right on the James River. A large one bedroom loft? $860 a month plus ten bucks per month per pet. So we're looking into that one now. So much for saving money. Of course it is far from a done deal, but we put our sixty day notice in to our landlord anyway. We did take photos of this place but no posting until we know anything for sure.

After that entire debacle, I was strangely depressed the rest of the day and useless, got nothing done. Yesterday I worked on laundry and cleaning up the apartment and also our visiting dog was sick all night so we are dragging from caring for her through the night and into today. Thankfully she is ok this evening but whew... so tired today. We're both dragging.

All that said, and I have no jewelry to show for my weekend. Blah and double blah. It was one of those well intentioned weekends. I did get a long standing commissioned pin completed, so that was a major accomplishment, but my pendants I've made and materials I've gathered are still perched in a box on my jeweler's bench, waiting for work to be over tomorrow so I can chip away at their creation. This, at least, makes me happy to think about.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Snowstorm 2009

Alas, now the snow is mostly a melted pile of mud and sludge, with alot of green mixed in. Sidewalks and roads are dry, snow replaced with huge chuck-holes and sidewalks to chopped up cement from too much salt. We had no power part of Sunday and most of Monday last, but just when we were cozying up to the idea of a candlelit evening on Monday, the power roared back on, with heat, television, lights and yes, hot water for the bubblebath. :D I like roughing it for about a day, then I need my comforts again.

Since then I've been at work, and my parents stopped by to drop their little dog off on their way to vacation in the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida. So we have a very small, 10 pound furry dog to spice things up a little for the next few weeks.

The weekend will find me busy at my jeweler's bench putting finishing touches on a commissioned piece and some magazine submissions that may/may not be up to snuff. Also the neverending pile of laundry and housecleaning awaits yours truly.

Adding to the mix is a look-see at a new apartment. We've lived in this building since 2003 and frankly are tired of it after a change in management and ownership, it's kinda gone downhill in perks and uphill in rent. Anyone know this scenario? Ain't it great? To put it simply, we have issues with this place now and management isn't doing enough to make things right for a long time, usually-pay-rent-early tenant.
Looking at Craig's List this morning I spied an unbelievable listing-- an apartment about the same size as this one, second floor, with (get this!) two balconies, front and back! hardwood floors, about five blocks from where we currently reside. We have been dying for balconies for years, or at least I have, where we can have plants and tomatoes and herbs and cute hanging ornaments and chimes. *sigh*.

My radar goes up, however, at the much lower rent. My husband looked at the place this morning and said the landlord was a laidback hippie kinda guy (good news) and only required first month rent as deposit (also good news) but he could hear a guy playing guitar through the wall (hmmm... could be good, could be bad) and the apartment only has ONE closet. Potential problem there... but I also think it's a good opportunity to put creativity and willpower together and throw lots of stuff out or donate it or sell it to pair down our current apartment. I could not tell you hardly one thing that is any of the four closets here. So tomorrow, ten a.m., we are both going to take a look and (oh, I hope...) sign a new lease for April 1. At any rate, in this economy, even with me working now and all, it would be very nice to save almost $400 a month in rent from where we currently live.

Hopefully Monday I'll have lots of good jewelry photos to post. I'm dying to put my ideas from paper into moving motion.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

sit under a tree

This etching and matching stamped bar is a work in progress that is my designated project for tomorrow. The beads are chosen, the design is designed and it's just left to string it, wire wrap it all up and send it on, hopefully for publication somewhere. Who knows!

I think I've calmed down a bit from the last week. It was definitely my week to wig out and I did it with the full jumping-up-and-down, hair-pulling-out throttle I am oh so capable of doing. It's not good to experience, not fun to witness.

Today I am working on a long standing commission for another memory pin. That first one I made was a total bugger to get totally straight with the pin segment, meaning it was difficult to solder the pin around the bezel without either 1. melting the bezel. or 2. un-soldering the already soldered bezel. or 3. both.

So I am carefully planning strategy before I begin so I don't run into the problems I had before with this one and start another wig out session all over again. :D

In between working on this pin, I am having a very difficult time tearing myself away from a book, Beyond the Four Corners of the World, by Emily Benedek. It's the non-fiction story of a Navajo woman in Tuba City and her family and I am mesmerized by it. Now I am dying to hit the road next fall and go to Indian Country, the Grand Canyon, see tall cactus, the desert. *sigh* I'm ready to travel.

Michael and I are meeting a friend for coffee soon so better get ready. This guy, before arthritis forced him to scale back, used to play back up guitar with the Dave Matthews band and is a total alternative, post '60's throwback who makes me laugh and laugh, so it'll be a good time.

This alien is me with my full respirator gear in place, ready to start dumping chemicals for etching. Everyone who is beginning to etch with caustic chemicals, please run to the nearest hardware store and invest the best and healthiest $30 you'll ever spend for a 3M full respirator dedicated for anti-chemical or pesticide inhalants. Don't breathe that stuff! You will have skulls and crossbones floating in your brain if you do.... Be sure to wear protective eyewear, too and wear gloves!!

Happy Sunday, everyone. It's to freakin' snow in Richmond today. Unheard of!! The city will come to a total panicked standstill. We can't wait!!