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Wednesday, December 31

once more into the breach...

Well, I ask you to open my studio door at the end of the season and not imagine a war having been fought there.

Really bad. Really.

So, I have some time off from the theater, my first app due in 10 days, a need to keep busy, a snowstorm outside. There will be cleaning.

I am going to organize. Again. There will be plastic bins and labels. Old storage stuff that never really worked is already at the curb. New shelves are ready to be filled with those labeled plastic thingys.

I have the most trouble letting go of things that I may use someday maybe if just in case I might somehow.....gone. Unpainted paper castings, A book that just need a repair...for 2 years now. Mirrors with designs that just didn't work. Cast bowls that never sold, the edges cracked from schlepping to show after show. Gone.

I started this year with the same cleaning spurt, but this time I am actually redoing things. For instance, my paper cutter is on a surface just about 6 inches too low so I always hurt my back when doing any prolonged cutting. That will be moved up. Things i had stored right near my work area will be stored away unless it's something I use daily. Stuff like that.

And so we start again. A clean room, a clean slate. A new calendar book. New plans.

Guess I should get up there. One more coffee.......

Sunday, December 28

seen in New Jersey

We maneuvered enough jug handles to actually get into a mall on Christmas Eve for some last minute supplies (tape,wrapping paper) and my 1st purchase for the coming business year (calendar book).

And guess who we were parked next to?



On Christmas Eve. You can't make this stuff up.

And there is apparently a fleet of these trucks, because check out the number on the front bumper:



I wonder what kind of guarantee you get with this crew? Lifetime?

Eternity?

Saturday, December 27

driving New Jersey

OK, so we were happy to be going elsewhere for Christmas. It was way better than staying home and staring sadly at the corner of the couch where the dog always slept. The weather looked promising, which in these parts means no blizzard or ice storm predicted. We would get there early, spend quiet time at the Holiday Inn, and then the welcome distraction of family and food and presents. This would be a good thing.

Billy called and said I was to open our gift before we left. It was a GPS gizmo. How cool. So, we were ready to hit the road. We had gas, we had the GPS, we had a backup MapQuest printout. This would be a breeze. Then we got to New Jersey.

Most of New Jersey is very pretty, not the chemical spewing skyline or gritty urban landscape immortalized in the "Sopranos" opening credits. But this was not enough for whoever is in charge of New Jersey. No. What could they do to make the place even more memorable? Why they could invent jug handles!

Oh, what are jug handles you say? Pull up a chair. Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, long ago, a mall appeared. And then another. And the people came and it was good. The car dealers saw and they came. Hotels were built. How to feed these pilgrims? Let there be a Chili's and an Olive Garden. Add a movie theater, a supermarket, a drug store. The line of pilgrims grew. And stalled. They beeped and beeped. (Beeping your horn is the unofficial theme music for New Jersey) Get us to the promised lands, they demanded. Beep. Now!. Beep.

And so the jug handle was born. The pilgrims were not to make left turns. No. Left turns made the horns beep, bogged down their progress. Let them turn right! Yes! If you want to turn left, you turn right and swoop around (quickly or the horns beep) and soon you are going straight and voila! you have cut the line and you are free to turn willy nilly. What a concept. These little detours to freedom are called jug handles. As in "take the jug handle right after the 2nd light".

This works once you understand the concept. Before that, you keep driving further looking for that elusive left turn lane so you can get home. Eventually you end up in Pennsylvania or something and you ask a local what the hell is up with New Jersey.

We had not used the GPS at first because, after all, we were just going to the mall next to our hotel. Ha! Foolish pilgrim. Once we turned her on (the GPS voice is always a woman. Why is that?) she tried to tell us. "turn right! turn right! sigh. recalculating" I'm sorry, GPS Lady, we should have listened. On the way home, when we no longer needed left turns, we just needed to get out of New Jersey. she guided us past the lanes that would pull us out of the jug. "stay left! stay left! Phew!" and I swear she lit a cigarette when we were safely back in New York where left turns just had special lanes with arrows, if anything at all, and the roads had no handles to avoid.

journeys

I took a break from the blog 12 days ago because we had just learned that the beautiful swimming dog in the last post had an illness that would take him from us in days. We spent the next week loving him and saying goodbye before we let him go, peacefully and with Russell whispering loving words in his ear.

Some day I will write of this almost perfect dog and his place in our lives. But now I am taking deep breaths and moving about my life, stepping around the little land mines of ragged, chewed up teddy bears, a brush full of golden fur, a plastic tote with a handful of dog food left at the bottom.

Jake was a gift we had the enormous privilege of loving for over 8 years. His journey has been completed but he left big old floppy footprints all over our hearts.

Monday, December 15

Saturday, December 13

seasons

In my head, this life has 3 seasons: Application, Summer and Holiday. Right after Holiday and for a few weeks prior to Application there is a brief respite called "life". This is when you cram in Christmas prep, Christmas celebration and Christmas clean up. If you celebrate Christmas. If you don't, I guess you get to actually read a book or something.

So, today's show was the last of the Holiday season. It was, appropriately enough, in a gym, 4 hours long, had few sales but good hot chocolate and very nice attendees and organizers. I believe the Universe gave me this show so I wouldn't feel weepy about the year ending. I had never done this one before, but the proximity to our house, the fact that it was in a pretty classy private school, the date being the traditional weekend of Women's Gifts..it seemed worth a try.

You can't be right every time...



We didn't win any of the raffles, either.

I had a lot of time to think about the year while I sat behind my table



and I thought about the year to come, too. Made some decisions, pondered changes. That's the thing, you see. Even at the end of the year, with exhaustion sucking the marrow from your bones and a pain like an ice pick between your shoulder blades, the idea of a new season gives you that little scratch of anticipation in your belly. And you begin to look forward, even before you've had a chance to look back.

Say what you will about the frustrations and uncertainties of this business, I've never had a "real" job that made me feel that way.

We packed up in no time, loaded the van and headed home. All of the inventory I had left fit in one small tote.

Jake was waiting when we got home and I walked him to the corner. He dropped to the snow for a roll about when the air was suddenly filled with bird song. We both looked up to see the sky filled with birds that swooped in like a dark curtain unfurling against the sky They started to fill the trees




singing and calling to each other. Once they all flew into the sky, swooping away and back in perfect formation, dipping and rising before they broke away and settled back into the branches. I wonder what that was. A salute?

And then they lifted off again, this time with purpose. No sweeping gesture this time, just heading out and away,





Their season over, too, I guess and the street became eerily quiet. Jake went back to snow rolling and I gave him a few minutes before I called him to follow me back to the house.

No show to get ready for, no supplies to order, no reason to hit the attic. I changed into jammy pants and an oversized hoodie, curled up in my big leather chair. Made a cup of Ovaltine. Really.

A few weeks of life before Application Season. Quiet, soft days with no deadlines. My version of flying South.

If I wasn't so tired I'd swoop.

Monday, December 8

another mansion, another show

This show was part of Open Studios weekend. About 20 of us gathered in the beautiful rooms of Gilda's Club and set up to sell, donating 20% back to Gilda's. It is a wonderful collaboration between the Bliss and Bejewelled artists and Gilda's organization. More about the Club later.

(Just one thing. I need to apologize now for the quality of some of the photos I'm about to share. I know, I know, I have promised all year to learn my camera. And I will. Really. But wouldn't you rather see something a little blurry and with odd color tones than nothing at all? )

I was assigned to the art room which was a utilitarian space, not one of the elegant rooms with plush furniture and flattering light. This was a good thing. Not only did we get vinyl floors I didn't have to worry about, there was bright light and a supply cabinet that turned out to be a source for emergency borrowing. A stapler, a pen, a marker. (Yes, Mom, I returned everything). I will take functionality every time. I thought my little space worked out pretty well



Until I saw Danielle's colorful, welcoming "shop"



and Robin's clever utilization of the wash up area (under the black drape) as shelf space



I need display help. A mentor. Someone with vision. I've had those table covers for 10 years. (Note: Add to list of January projects "research display options) We've made strides on the outdoor set up, but indoors...not so much.

I mean, it never occurred to me to either cover up or temporarily remove the art projects on the bulletin board behind me. Not until someone complimented me on "my" mandalas and asked how much they were. Oh man.

Anyway...Friday night there was a fund raiser/reception./preview with food and music



so we had shoppers who were juggling wine glasses and miniature food as they browsed. Saturday and Sunday were open house style and many many people came. 

This was a lovely weekend.  Many old friends



Paul Morgan of Avalon


Brian Nesline in what I jokingly called the "Faces of Buffalo Wing"


Anne Bliss...a major reason for the success of this show



Chary...her work sparkles and so does she :)



Mary Stephens, not just a talented designer, the force behind the growing Buffalo Indie Market

and Gingerbread houses!









The house was filled with laughter and art and cookies. People came in out of the cold, stomping snow off their shoes, unwinding scarves, taking in the light and warmth of the house. They sipped coffee and nibbled cookies and engaged us in conversation as they shopped. I spoke with many women who were cancer survivors, members of this club. (As Gilda said "a club you never wanted to belong to. That's where the name comes from) I was taken by their spirit, a certain defiance, courage. They bought things from me that had quotes on them about living life fully, seizing the day, moments that take your breath away. I'm thinking about them today as I go about the mundane day-after-show paperwork.

Yesterday I found myself drawn to the "It's Always Something" room. It is a small room, all white. Walls, furniture, drapes. The decor, what there is of it, is nautical. Maybe I was drawn to it because there has never been a day in my life in which a white room would have been possible. But I would stand in the doorway and wonder what stories the walls would tell. The furniture is oversized and overstuffed. A person would be held and comforted by furniture like that. And by images of the sea, By the canvas of white walls. I pictured this as a haven, a place for conversation and connection. I imagined people bringing troubles there and having them washed clean. I have no clue what the room really is for, but for me, this weekend, it was a symbol of this beautiful idea.

I'm thinking Gilda would be proud.

Thursday, December 4

deck the halls---and lobbies

Sometimes I decorate for Christmas. I go all out. Fresh greenery. Little tableaus on the mantle with my collection of hobo Santas. Sometimes we go away and I skip it. Sometimes we stay home and I almost skip it, usually because we are so totally frazzled from a run of Christmas shows that all I want to do is sit under a quilt with a stack of newly checked out library books, all the remotes and a quart sized cup of coffee. One year I cut a twig from the cherry tree, strung it with colored lights and stuck it in a big apothecary jar. That looked pretty nice, actually.

Now, at work, there is no halfway, no lit twigs. Every year the boxes come out



and a crew goes to work





Yes, a crew helps, but one of these things really, really helps



It took a couple of days, but it looks pretty good I think












The pictures aren't very good. I have trouble shooting indoors. I need to read the manual, I do. I will. But I do have one outdoor shot



A 3 day show starting tomorrow and a one day bazaar the next weekend. How much energy will I have for decorating this year? I'm thinking less than a triple A battery, about as much as you get from scrubbing your feet across the carpet and then touching the cat's nose.

This may be a twig year. But at least I have the office.