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Monday, October 27

morning at the museum

So, before we left on vacation I got an email from the manager of the gift shop at the Buffalo HIstorical Society. She had seen one of my book pins on an employee (who happens to be a friend). She wanted to know what else I had and could we meet?

The History Museum is a beautiful place and my memory of the gift shop was that my stuff wasn't that great a fit. But I was curious and it would be nice to have some things there. I'm all about having some classy sales venues. It might wear off on me. Perusing the online shop reinforced my sense of what I could place there, and I went off to meet Mary Louise with a tote of samples and some ideas.

I got there before the Museum opened and rang the bell beside the massive, ornate doors. Mary Louise let me in and welcomed me with a warm smile. She showed me the shop and the area that showcased local artists. It is a lovely shop, but I was right, My work, as it usually is, wasn't a good fit.

We went into the Board Room to talk and I showed her the journals and frames I brought. I told her at the outset that she should look at these as samples because my sense was that the shop was geared to a certain style that I did not yet have. She loved the little pin and wanted those right away. Then we discussed the journals and I offered some suggestions on different styles I could design for them and she was enthusiastic.

So, there ya go. Such a businesswoman I am. I'm going to work up some books with old maps as the cover paper, some with raised photos of local images. Stuff like that. Could be fun.

But that, except for the pins, is for after the Holidays. Now I have to refocus on the upcoming shows. And you know what that means.

Back to the attic.

Sunday, October 26

the 's' word

Ah. They mentioned snow in last night's news. First time this season. I am working on acceptance. But first, a final look at Fall in the Northeast, Who would want to live anywhere else?

Ask me again in February. :)

Thursday, October 16


So, the economy crashes, big time. Banks getting swallowed up by other banks. Money being air lifted into the stock market. 401K's going from retirement funds to Christmas Clubs. And here I am. A woman who left a secure government job so she could set up her little white tent on various curbsides and sell her handcrafted goodies. Oh, lovely. Now what?

So, I was anxiously waiting for reviews from my cohorts in the field after this weekend of Columbus Day festivals. When I first entertained the idea of doing this for a living, it was the salad days of the Clinton administration when there was a lot of money around and people were throwing it at you. I was giddy with the possibilities back then. I stayed in the "real" job for a few years while I learned the business and then shot out of there like a I had a cannon ball up my butt. Never looked back. Until this week.

The weather was absolutely perfect, so if sales were bad it was not going to be for any extraneous reason like rain or wind or snow. There are several schools of thought on how the economy affects art shows. Some think that the folks who have money to blow on things they don't need, will always have it. Some think that when times are tough, people stay away from festivals so they won't be tempted to spend when they should be saving. I think that when times are tough, people come out to distract themselves from the news. And they buy things to comfort themselves, to cheer up. It's like the old parable about if a man has 2 coins, let him use one to buy bread to feed his body and the other to buy jonquils to feed his soul.

I love that.

So, anyway, it seems OK. You always have some artists who do better than others. There is a huge show at Letchworth every year that we have tried 3 or 4 times over the years. My friend does enormous sales there and he had a record weekend this year. We tank. Every time.So we skip it now. Some other friends did very well there, also. Fine art at St James Ct sold well to the big ticket crowd while mid priced art didn't move. Artisans with functional craft with a mid price range did great. Jewelers either did fabulous or lousy. It always seems to be that way with jewelry. A whole bunch of folks doing a traditional show in Lafayette sounded really pleased for the most part, a few made record sales. It is reassuring.

I have 4 or 5 CHristmas shows in the next 6 weeks. You know people will buy stuff at the Holidays, but what kind of world will we have when my first show hits a week after the election? Will people be excited and hopeful? Worried? Battle scarred? Angry? Happy? Sad? Reassured or nervous? It will have an enormous impact, I'm thinking.

I'm hoping that the first week free of ads and debates and polls and uncertainty will bring people out to the bazaars and gift shows with lighter hearts.

I'm hoping for customers who will respond to the spirit of the artists, their color and whimsy.

I'm hoping that everyone has enough coins for bread and that we can be their jonquils.

morning 10/16

Tuesday, October 14

morning 10/14

at the edge

Yes, I should be in the studio. I will be. But first, we took a walk at the "other" park, LaSalle. This is not an Olmstead. That one is a few feet away, Front Park-a small, unpretentious place that has been savaged by border crossing expansions over the years.

LaSalle was a dumping ground 90 years ago and the city rehabbed it, I believe. Now it is a simple. elegant place, known mostly for the gentle winding path along the water

that the locals often use for exercise

and it has cozy spots to sit by the water and think

a baseball field

who's on first??

It's a peaceful place to start the day

and now I'm ready to face the studio.

Wave goodbye to Canada

Sunday, October 12


We are blessed to live between 2 beautiful parks designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. On a perfect Autumn day, the one you want is Delaware Park. This is just one teeny part of it:

Thanks, Mr. Olmstead. Not bad.

morning 10/12

"happy?" anniversary

It's the 2nd anniversary of the October storm. I've written of it before. The cold darkness for days, the snap and whoosh of the limbs through the night, the devastation in the morning, the struggle for the remaining trees to recover. The first October after the storm was devoid of color in the city. The leaves did not burn with color, they faded, turned brown, shriveled and fell to the earth in defeat. I wondered if we had lost a season. If we would never again enjoy the audacious riot of Autumn.

As we got close to home after vacation, I started to wonder about the trees. The midwest had splashes of color here and there. What would our little corner of the world be like? We got home late at night, but in the morning our bedroom was filled with the kind of light that only comes through the filter of yellow and red and orange leaves. They were back.

The huge tree across the street was slated to be cut down. There was an outcry. They actually cut one limb off before they were stopped. Give it a chance.

Her colors are subtle but defiant.

The trees I'm most happy about are the smallish ones in front of the house. I had frantically gone from tree to tree trying to shake or bat or sweep the snow from branches. It had to be a sight. Most of the attempts were futile, but those two trees were young and still small enough that I could wrap my hands around the trunk. I shook them all through the night until it got too dangerous to be out there.

My babies. Heh.

On the long drive home, we talked about where else we would live. Did I like the Bay Area? Well, of course, but the seasons. I need the 4 seasons. They are so defined here, each one so extreme, almost cartoonish. The Winter with its gray skies and blankets of snow and ice. Spring with its mud and sweet air, ice melting in the streams, bright green poking through brown. Summer hot and sunny, green, the Lake warm and glistening. And Fall. Bright with color, the sun's angle lower but still warm, the sky seeming bluer against the trees, a hint of cold in the air at night. I need it. There is something spiritual about it, I said and Russell agreed.

I may feel less spiritual in February. I'll be grumbling about being cold, I'll be aching to be outside. I'll be tired of boots and coats. But today? Today I am grateful for the simple things almost lost and the graceful, determined orbit of our lives.