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Wednesday, July 30

the joy of research

So, I'm browsing the internets for new quotes to use and found one of the funniest typos I ever saw:

"Those who are happiest ate those who do the most for others."

Yum. I'll have the Mother Teresa appetizer and a single order of Albert Schweitzer.

Tuesday, July 29

shameless panda-ring

I have no reason to post this. It has nothing to do with art or shows or my life.

120 days old.

Try not to smile.

Not even a twitch,

I cute is this?

Carry on.

Monday, July 28

career opportunities

Not all the Art Fair jobs involve art.

For instance, if you are not claustrophobic, have an affinity for citrus and enjoy spending time in exotic locations, you may want to consider this:

But not all art fair jobs are that much fun. Oh, you may think working inside this castle of custard would be fun, but don't let the glamour cloud your vision

Because when all the cones have been eaten and the people have left, the sad job of illusion killing begins. It takes strong hands and a hard heart to destroy that which brought such joy to so many.

Tip your servers, folks. Really.

downtown Syracuse

The first year we did this show..5 years ago...we were giddy with how well we did. To be fair, we also had really low expectations then. We've done it every year since, except for 2 years ago when we were wait-listed. We never did match the hey day of that 1st time, but it's been a good show. This year, they changed the date so they could bundle up a bunch of festivals into one weekend.

Oh goody. That will help get people to this particuar festival. What were they thinking?

I tried to be optimistic. Maybe it would actually work. Get more people downtown. They would trickle down. As we were setting up, I kept squinting a a little sticker on the light pole behind our tent. Couldn't quite read it, (note to self: get new contacts), so I ambled over to satisfy my curiosity. I could only hope this was not an omen

Alas, the trickle down theory didn't work for Reagan and it didn't work for us. The best crowds were on Saturday and, of course, it rained.

It always seems to rain at least once at this show, causing a river to instantly form at the back of your booth. You have to be real speedy to get your stuff up on dry land.

How bad was Sunday?

Hey! Get some crowd control in here!!! Hold that guy back before he breaks something.


We like this show. We like Syracuse. We see a lot of people we enjoy during the weekend. We had a wonderful, expensive breakfast at a French restaurant on Saturday morning. They throw a barbecue for us. Those niceties go into the plus column.

But when I add up the cost of the show and gas to Syracuse and a hotel for 3 nights? Yikes. I ain't that nice ya know?

Tuesday, July 22

piling on

I e-mailed the folks in Oregon, asking how that ol' waiting list was going. Only one no-show so far, she replied, but most of the openings happen just a few days before the show.

Well, I am just not going to schlep 300 pounds of display across the country, stuffing Max and Jake into tiny nooks and crannies of the van on a "maybe". But, with the cost of gas rivaling mortgage payments, we really need another income maker to help finance our vacation. What to do?

I called the folks at Hammondsport to see if they had any last minute openings and the lovely Carol chuckled and said she had been expecting my check for weeks. Apparently, bead goddess Leah, who has offered to house us during the show, had mentioned I might be calling.

So, I now have 4 shows in the next 6 weeks. My hands feel like bricks and there is a nasty pain developing in the joint of my thumb. Russell will have to take over some cutting and whatever else I feel comfortable about delegating. But I love the Hammondsport show and Max will be here to enjoy it with us. He can hang at the beach while I try to gather some more cash for the trip.

And I will have a non-working vacation in the Pacific Northwest before coming home to get ready for the holiday shows. This is turning out to be a good thing.

Hey Max! You get a whole row of seats to yourself! (can't wait to see ya)

Monday, July 21

ya gotta have friends

So, this morning I met with an old friend. A very old friend. We have been in each other's lives for over 30 years. He was barely out of his teens and I was rapidly departing my 20's but we became friends and confidantes nonetheless. I was the maid of honor at his wedding. We have had many late night phone conversations over the years, often as one of us enters or endures a break or bruise of the heart. Sometimes we talk as parents. Sometimes it is political, our views dovetailing as always. We are sounding boards to each other, not debaters. We helped each other through divorces, provided reassurances as we each tried again and eventually succeeded. This is a friendship of the soul, a precious thing. He lives in Seattle now and we haven't seen each other in 15 years. Oh, we talk and e-mail and follow each other's blogs, but we have not been eye-to-eye for a long time. We hugged each other tight this morning and laughed at the absurdity of it all and fell back into our old patterns of wordplay, feeling the comfort of not having to explain. It was joyful. Russell came to meet the "famous Michael" and Michael teased that he expected Russell to arrive in a beam of light. And I sat between these men I love, listened to them, watched them and it was perfection.

After Michael left, we walked to our cars and realized neither of us had brought house keys. Not a problem. Another friend, Joleen, had a spare. She handed it over with a hug and without one teasing word about our ineptitude. Love her.

A few hours later, pulling a cart out of the row at Wegmans, there is Anne and her beautiful daughter, Zena. More hugs. Catching up while people wheeled their carts around us. I hate when other people do that, but there we were, unwilling to break the thread with choreography, We shared happy news of a baby and we dished art shows. Anne is warm and real and it always feels good to be with her. We promised to make a coffee date and I caught up with Russell before he could buy too many kitchen gadgets.

Stir fry for dinner, the rice was simmering and Jake went barking to the door. I heard a familiar voice say "Jakey, go get you master" and there was another friend and neighbor, Suzanne, with a plastic tub of raspberries from her garden because she thought we'd like them. What makes one person (Suzanne) do nice things when she thinks about them and another person (me) think of many nice things but seldom do them?

It was a day that I thought would be special because of one friend but became even more so because of this star spray of friendships. A hug from someone you've missed, a key held safe, laughing eyes and true affection, sweet raspberries in a plastic cup.

Thursday, July 17

domestic conversation

"Do you have your sleeping bag?"

"We have sleeping bags?"

"Yes, with the camping stuff"

"We have camping stuff?"

"OK, here's the plastic dishes and metal coffee pot"

"Where did that come from?"

"It was with the camping stuff?"

"We have camping stuff? Where?"

"In the attic closet"

""No sh..."


"There's one of those pad things for under the sleeping bag if you want it"


"Tell me you're kidding"

"With the camping stuff, right?"



"Where did we get all this camping stuff?"



Tuesday, July 15

ruined for life

Well, that is my sense after doing my first Chautauqua show. Let's face it. How often am I going to set up at a show with a captive audience that will be there no matter what the weather? How often will that captive audience be affluent enough to afford this place as a Summer or even year-round residence? When will it happen again that my booth full of journals be set up during a writer's conference?

See what I mean? If there is such a thing as an exact confluence of conditions that create a "perfect storm", then there is a coming together of factors that make the perfect art festival. It's going to be hard setting up in the real world for the rest of the season!

You can go to "photos" over there ----> somewhere and click on "Chautauqua" to check out some images.

We met some wonderful people and got to reconnect with old friends. Happily, the booth across form us was occupied by the always entertaining Linda Surace and her daughter, Cara. Good friends that enjoyed the symphony with us Saturday night.

The residents and visitors of Chautauqua seem to absorb the serenity and creativity of the place. They browse the booths at a leisurely pace, ask questions about how things are done, notice and appreciate the details.

I got to pet a whole lot of really cute dogs.

The Sunday strawberry festival had the best strawberry shortcake I have ever had in my life.

Sure, I came home to a major car repair and 2 more shows to pay for. Had to order a lot of supplies. But that's how life is, how business is. It's not all strawberries and cream, but every so often you get shortcake and life is good.

Monday, July 14

got culture?

A friend says we art show folk are really just carnies, setting up our tents, making a buck then folding up and moving on. Usually, I agree with him. Usually, we are set up on city streets with ciggy butts in the gutter and the smell of kettle corn in the air. But this was Chautauqua, I reminded myself. There would be culture. And then we checked into our motel.

You have to remember that the accomodations on the grounds of the Institution look something like this:

and cost 2 grand a week.

We opted for a motel a few miles away that had this for the in-room coffee pot:

That carnie image was very clear as I drank the brew from that coffin pot. And watched one of the 3 TV channels provided by the 20 year old TV that actually had a radio tuner in it. I thought the brochure said cable TV. It said color TV.

But then we got to the show and there was a whole lot of beauty ...and a really crazy set up. We were to come in and set up on the grass and then move our canopies into the street an hour later. Sadly, we had a gimungous tree right where that first bit of work should be taking place, so we basically propped the thing half way up and watched everyone else get organized

I was a little worried, until I looked down the line and saw controlled chaos everywhere. We were not alone. I couldn't imagine how it would all come together.

But these folks know what they are doing. Little by little it did come together. A glimpse of how it looked early the next morning before the crowds came :

I'll give more details next time, but I'll just say this: The organizers gave us weekend gate passes so we could attend some of the concerts. We were too tired for Duke Ellington on Friday night, but we caught the symphony on Saturday. One morning, I exited the ladies room and heard laughter. I wandered over a few yards to the ampitheater and caught some of Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury stories.

This was not your typical craft show.

Saturday, July 12

cue celestial harps and stuff

Here we are at Chautauqua. Saturday morning. Russell and I are sitting outside at umbrella tables waiting for breakfast. This patio is below street level, so we are looking up at sunlight through old, magnificent trees. There is a fountain bubbling. I can hear it, but not see it. Every so often someone on a bike goes by, soft whirr on brick walks and then it is quiet again. A chipmunk entertains us, scampering over, around and through the railings. Just now a robin flew to her nest under the eaves, right over our table. Her babies stretched and cried for food.

There is a contest here to describe Chautauqua, in 100 words, for someone who has never beenhere. I've never been able to capture the place in words. Phrases come to mind. Charming. Serene. Inspiring. Spiritual. None are really adequate. You must come here.

I wrote to my son yesterday that I was sitting on the lawn in Bestor Plaza. We had been selling a lot of things. The sun was warm. Garry Trudeau was signing books a few yard away. Flute music was in the air. I told him that if I had died and this was Heaven, I was OK with it.

So, are we having a good time? Yeah. It's OK. ;)

Thursday, July 10

the company you keep

So, I'm checking out what programs will be at Chautauqua while we are there and I see there is a writing conference. Cool. Who might be there, I wonder? Anyone I've heard of? Having spent much of my life with my substantial nose buried in a book, authors are my rock stars. In high school, the pictures on my wall were Edward Albee, Hemingway and Salinger. (Insert nerd emoticon here). OK, there was a John Lennon, too.

According to the schedule of classes, this is the roster for the writing workshop:

For this week on writing, Roger will be joined by his friends and fellow authors E.L. Doctorow, Joyce Carol Oates, and Amy Tan, and poet Billy Collins and cartoonist Garry Trudeau.

I couldn't breathe for a minute. I've read and loved them all.

I'm a little stressed about the strict set-up rules. They are necessary because of logistics, but I'm not good about being on time and little things like that. We will be allowed through the gate at exactly 7:15 and we will have exactly 1/2 hour to unload and sign in, get the van to the parking lot and get back to our spot, remembering to bring the pass they will give us in order to get back in. At that point we can start to set up, but we can't move our canopy into position until 8:30. Makes me dizzy.

Then I look at where our spot will be and what I will be seeing throughout the weekend

I can handle it.

Monday, July 7

another countdown

We had a few days away, on Long Island with Russell's family, but I did bring work with me. Just a few things. It was a short drop-by for family and fireworks, followed by a night drive home.

This weekend is Chautauqua. Everyone on the circuit has told me the same 3 things: One: congratulations on getting in. Two: You will do great there. Three: Be ready for very strict rules.

Indeed, just the "welcome" packet is daunting. Don't forget your sales tax certificate or we will send you 75 miles back to Buffalo to get one. Then they list how many times they've done that just recently. You go through the gate at EXACTLY 7:15, then you have EXACTLY 30 minutes to unload. My palms sweat just reading the list of do's and don'ts. But I understand it. We are setting up on the grounds of an Institute in the middle of its season.

I think if I can't sell a bunch of journals here, I never will. It is a place devoted to the arts and the spirit and the mind. Surely they will want to write some of that stuff down, right? So, I am focusing on the books.

My attic is an oven and the A/C decided to quit, so I am doing an hour at a time. Then I come down to do laundry, play Zuma, see Russell. Cool off. Then back up to the oven. This may be a new weight loss trend. The stairs and sweat workout. Put it to music and Richard Simmons might do the video.

Wednesday, July 2

build me up, buttercup

We decided to ride bikes at the waterfront. The new Canal site was to have a ceremonial opening, I needed a break from the studio and Hillary was going to be there. I choose to keep this a politics-free blog, but just as a woman, I wanted to be there, maybe catch her eye and say "thank you" with a look that she would understand. A sisterhood look. I know. Goofy.

It was a glorious day. Sun and heat and a breeze off the water and all the flowers in full bloom.

It was tricky getting to the site because there were all sorts of somber looking men in suits hanging around, like Mr Warmth here

I can't imagine what kind of dangerous people he expected to find in such a mellow crowd.

Russell held the bikes while I squeezed into a spot where I could see the speakers. Hillary had already spoken, but I found her there, looking young and happy, doing what Senators do, every so often waving at the women who wanted to catch her eye. Some were campaign staff, still wearing t-shirts that read "Give 'em Hill" or " Just can't wait for 2008".

And then the speeches were over, all the requisite pats-on-backs had been administered. They gathered on the foot bridge to ceremoniously "wet" the canal, just as it had been done when the Erie Canal had been opened. They tipped their ceremonial pails and poured the ceremonial water into the canal replica and the crowd applauded. I looked up from the camera and saw that line of men in suits. Gray/black/blue. And in their midst, like a buttercup in a parched field, the woman in yellow. I'm not sure what made me choke up. Maybe imagining the women who had been there for the first ceremony. In layers of hot petticoats and buttoned up shoes. Women who weren't allowed to vote or own property, who would have been joyfully dumbstruck by that woman in yellow.

All of a sudden, the Coast Guard shoots off a tiny cannon that sounded like a giant cannon and made one of the Secret Service women, a woman who apparently had not been briefed on all the ceremonial stuff, reach for her holster and go charging into the crowd. Pretty funny. She realized the truth about 4 seconds into her dash and had to pretend she planned it that way. It was great. Broke that reflective mood right in half, I tell ya.

Right after the cannon shot, we hear a deep horn sound and saw the Cotter with all its sprays going, making it's way slowly, past the hot-skinned folks who knew enough to hug the rail to catch the cool mist.

The" important" folks were whisked away to a reception in a line of black cars. We pedaled over to the ice cream hatch for a float and I walked along the water's edge to cool off.

I'm thinking Hillary might have liked to change places with me. Just for a minute.