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Wednesday, January 28

in search of jury slides

Well, here at Procrastination Station, the application for Allentown, our town's biggest, oldest and first art show of the year sits ready to mail. Just waiting for the slides.

Yes, they still want slides of your work. Why? (she whined). Most places have moved on to CD's of digital images, many have online submissions so you don't even have to deal with the ubiquitous SASE. Not Allentown. Slides. Sigh.

Now I do have pages of slides from years of doing this, but I have actually gotten better at what I do over the years. Who knew? So, I need some new slides. I knew I was going to need them. I've known for weeks. When did I decide to get them? Monday. Called our local camera/photo store. The one that always did this for me. Nope. Now they send it out and it takes a couple of weeks. Huh? Called a place I used last year when I needed slides right away (procrastination is an art form I have honed over the years) and they no longer do them. I was getting a sinking feeling, but they told me not to panic, there was a place that did it.

I went to the web site for this place (Campos Photography) and saw that they used a service called "iprint at home". Lordy how I hate cutesy names like that. Grr. I had no choice. Registered, read the directions which seemed way too simple, uploaded my images, picked a place where I could pick them up, paid the fee which was very reasonable, hit "send" and resigned myself to not doing Allentown this year.

A few moments later I got a confirmation e-mail, assuring me that the slides would be there the next day. Oh, sure, I sniffed.

Then, the next day, the email telling me they were ready for pickup came. No. Really? Cool!

Now, we haven't picked them up yet, we'll get them this morning, but how cool is this? I know that only art show carnies will be interested in this miraculous slide story, but that's what the blog is, after all. The life and times of an art carnie.

Do you know what this means? It means I will actually have the application for this show in the mail 2 days before deadline. Two whole days!

Baby steps.

Sunday, January 25

sorry, Quincy

Our friend, Don, has drawn my attention to the fact that I misspelled the type of dog Quincy's Mom is. She is a Catahoula Leopard Dog. Apparently, I was channeling melons when I wrote of her earlier.

He looks very black lab-ish, but pictures of the Cata...Chapa...Calahop...oh, whatever. Pictures of his Mom-dog as a puppy look almost the same. I guess we'll see.

You know, you can actually have a DNA test done of your pup to check the heritage. I don't know how much of each breed a mutt retains and, besides, that is such a very Jerry Springer-ish thing to do. I picture the neighborhood Lab high-fiving the Spaniel next door when the father is declared to be a Corgi.

Oh, Quincy knows his name already. And he cries to go out to pee. When I didn't bring him inside fast enough (he gets cold fast), he learned to climb the steps and scratched at the door.

Maybe he's a Cantaloupe Einstein Dog.

Saturday, January 24

and then there was Quincy

So, after I poured out my dog angst, I felt better and we talked. Russell really felt strongly about rescue and after being gob smacked by the "family dog having doodles" people, I was seeing my desire for a designer dog as selfish at best, misguided at most. We decided to take our day off together to visit shelters and see if my heart would open enough to let another dog in.

First stop was, of course, the SPCA. Such good people. So many beautiful, lonely dogs, but few puppies. It hurt my heart to see their pleading eyes, but I also saw a few of them taken from their rooms and brought to the play area to meet new owners. That was good. I started to get this warm feeling...

We made another stop at the whisker wag'n, but there were only 2 dogs. Beautiful and adult. I knew we needed to bring a baby home because the cats would eventually get him in line.

Then we went off to Pet Connection in Marilla that specializes in Maternity and special needs rescue. There were dozens of puppies on their web site, but only 6 or 7 when we got there. They were all adorable. Our conversation with the volunteer tending them was heartening. This seemed to be a good place, a caring place. We played with a few puppies and I began to accept that I wanted to bring one home. We had almost made a decision when I asked to see the little black dog sleeping with his face deep in the corner. I am not partial to black dogs, usually, but I figured I was there, better see them all. Russell reached over the warm, wiggly mass of sleeping pups to pick him up and as he turned around I saw the round, jowly, sleepy-eyed face of our newest family member. It was a face that made you laugh. So black that his fur shines like polished granite, so black that when he curls up to sleep you can't detect head from tail. There is a small white slash on his chest. He has one white toe. Those things help find him in the dark. I said "You are my new dog and your name is Quincy" (I'm not sure where the name came from, except that I had seen things about Quincy Jones a lot recently. And He is very cool...I dunno. Just popped out.)

We were OK'd by the shelter after filling out some forms and answering some questions. They gave us a bag of goodies for Quincy, a big bag of Science Diet puppy food, a certificate for his first checkup with our Vet, another to have him spayed for free. He has had shots, been dewormed, has a microchip under his skin. Amazing.

He cried all the way home. Pitiful, sad cries that a google search told me was mostly him calling for his "pack". Aw, man.,We made a quick stop at the pet store to get a tiny collar and leash so he could be walked. A tiny BoBo, baby chew bones, back in the car.

First stop was not our house, but the house across the street to meet his extended family: Mama Jo, Auntie Ree, Foster and Ellie. 2 humans and 2 dogs that will be his new "pack"

And then home. Dismayed cats, a puppy that cried almost the whole night unless he was being comforted, trying to train a baby dog to pee on ice. He is afraid of cars and sirens and loud noises. He is fascinated by the TV. He slept in our bed, warm and comforted, waking us when he needed to go out. To hell with crates. This is a family.

Today he is dashing about, under our feet, has been scratched by one cat and dismissed by the other. He cries to go out and we are astonished by that. And he almost always makes it. He eats out of his new bowls, curls up on his blanket and chews his toys, but still whimpers for comfort which he gets.

Auntie Ree gave me a tile with Jake's picture on it, a picture that shows his beautiful eyes staring right at you. I have taken to stroking his ceramic nose in the morning. It is oddly comforting. I will miss that dog for the rest of my life. That's just the way it is. The new puppy wiggles his way into your heart, though. Let's you use that doggy love. It helps a bit.

And so this is Quincy

And this is a link to PetConnection

They said they had 89 puppies being weaned and made ready for adoption. They also could use donations of money, time, blankets, etc. the way, Quincy's Mom is a Catalhoupa Leopard dog. Really. His Dad is nowhere to be found, his identity unknown, as is his breed. Quincy looks a lot like a Lab right now, but you never know what a mutt will grow to be. The President laughingly refers to himself as a "mutt". He grew up just fine.

Friday, January 23

paws for thought

Today it is a month since we lost our most cherished Jake, the world's most special dog. Put your hands down, this is not a debate. I'm sure your dogs are all very wonderful. Jake was...Jake.

Anyway, I miss him, but I also just miss having a wagging tail and happy bark when I put the key in the lock. I miss hot breath on my face in the morning, waking me up for a walk. I miss making room on the bed for a 3rd furry body. I miss the love.

Russell sees me shed tears almost every day still and hopes a puppy would cheer me up. I think it would help and I'm almost ready. But here is the dilemma. I don't know how to do this.

When we got Jake, apparently we got him at a "puppy mill" Who knew? The guy was definitely a broker of puppies, had several types at his kennel. Jake was from the guy's own Golden and a woman in the same small town. (or so he and the AKC papers said). The pups all looked happy, many were outside playing in grassy pens. A few were in the main building, we had fun looking at them all and playing with them. But I had Jake in my arms and, as far as I was concerned, the deal was done.

And Jake was wonderful. More than wonderful The cancer that killed him was not the fault of the kennel, unless you subscribe to the theory that over-breeding popular breeds leads to that sort of thing. I have no idea.

So, my dog-buying ethics firmly in place, I perused shelters and rescues and the local classifieds. And there, in the paper was an ad for goldendoodles (my first choice for a new puppy) in the 'burbs, lady sounds very sweet. She says the puppies are from her family dogs, live in her home, played with by her kids, not a puppy mill. First litter for her dog, etc. Sounded perfect, price was right, I wasn't ready. But I thought about those dogs for weeks. Tuesday I left her a message. DId she still have puppies?

No answer, no message. They were gone, back to the classifieds. And there, same phone number, same cute picture of the puppies, was an ad for the parents. A 3yr old Golden, an 18 month poodle. "Just had their first litter of doodles" the ad read. What? You're selling the "family dogs" that live in your home and play with your kids? A 3 year old dog?

I hate feeling stupid.

My friend, Marie, has taken to sending me e-mails with links to darling strays at all sorts of shelters. "How about this one?", an email will read. Or "Take a look at Jasper".

None of them appeal to me. Maybe because none of them are Jake.

Maybe I need a little more time.

Thursday, January 22

i'm trying

Really. I went up to the studio, saw my breath, reconsidered. I did stay up there long enough to cut some cardstock for my collage cards and I printed my new logo (with web site!) on the back.

Yeah, big deal. The first month of the new year, the year I was going to get off to a roaring start is winding down and I have managed to print my name on a bunch of card stock. Cue the trumpets.

In my defense, it has been insanely cold and our 3rd floor is unheated. Oh, I could keep the door open and let the heat up there. Uh huh. And I could shred dollars and use them for the litter box, too.

The answer is to find things to do downstairs. The problem is that most of what I do is pretty messy or requires equipment. A few weeks ago, during my cleaning frenzy, I put together a box of beads and spacers that I could use for bookbeads, so I rescued it from the attic igloo and made up a few while I sat by the fire and watched TV.

No, they will not make me rich. They are little baubles that I have in a basket near the books, an accessory. But it's something. A start. And I didn't get frostbite making them.

Baby steps.

Tuesday, January 20

sounds good to me

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

President Barack Hussein Obama
January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19

wish you were here

"Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight."

Dr. Martin Luther King
April 3, 1968

Sunday, January 18

looking forward, looking back

I had a lot of grandiose plans last January. I think I was going to make lamps, learn to take amazing pictures to grace my journals, etc. Oh, silly girl. How long you been doin' this now?

Writing this blog over the course of a whole season, from applications to the last gift show, has been like a little searchlight in my addled brain. The common wisdom is that creative people are just not business people. I don't think that's always true, but it's real true for me. At my part time theater job, I've heard some people opine that when you have theater people trying to be business people and business people trying to be theater people, it's just going to be a problem, no way around it.

Well, the theater makes a profit, no reason I can't. (she said, defiantly)

Last year was good for us. At the beginning, my fellow art carnies were predicting that it would be a really bad year because of gas prices and then because of the economy. But, show after show, the surprised reaction was that, once again, for most of us, it had been a good weekend. Better than the year before.

Why? C'mon. Who am I, John Kenneth Galbraith? Please. I do have an opinion, of course.

I think it's a combination of two things. The first is practical...people cut back on things like vacations and new cars and appliances, so they had more money for small luxuries.

The second is emotional. When things are getting ugly and sad you are drawn to things festive and pretty.

Hey, Mr President-elect, got a Cabinet job for me?

Now, how this will work out for 2009 is anyone's guess. There is much to be excited about but even more cause for worry. But what can you do? I am tethered to this life out of love and necessity. Adjustments will be made, fingers will be crossed. are the decisions for 2009 that I will most likely sneer at in 2010.

After a dozen years in this business, I know what sold and what didn't. Getting bored with something is no reason to stop making it if it sells. The things I make for 2009 will be the things that have sold for me over the years. No more perusing art books for inspiration. I have inspiration. Food.

Little sales add up to big weekends. I never, ever, had enough collage cards. At any show. I raised the price to $4, which is still on the cheap side for comparable work, and continued to sell out every show. I need to have hundreds of them every weekend. Which means I need to start now. They are very inexpensive to make but not easy.

More little sales...the little desk top collage quotes I sell for $7 were popular again. Book beads. a couple of bucks apiece, easy to make, fun. Adds up.

My journals, the heart of Simplesong, will get more cover embellishment. I'm going to work on cast paper designs for them. The raised collage cover was always a good seller. Need to make more of those.

Mirrors. They have been surprisingly popular and I am getting better at it. Now, those are not easy, but I am almost always pleased with the final product. They are my most expensive item, so I need to have enough of them just in case.

Bowls, bowls, bowls. When I was perusing my picture files for jury slides. I remembered how much I liked making those. They weren't a great seller, but the people that appreciated them really appreciated them. They will be my fun project for this year. If I don't get a lot of them done, no loss, but I will get to play with paint and powder. You need to keep the creative spark going when commerce takes the front burner.

More shows. Russell and I disagree about this, but he has more faith in me than I do. He thinks I should make exciting, expensive things and sell them at very high end shows. Then I only have to do 4 shows a year.

He loves me, what can I say? Thinks I can do anything. Very cute.

The reality is that i just don't make big, expensive things. I wouldn't know one if I saw it and it is just not in my DNA to be "that kind" of artist. As for the better show idea.. you just don't show up at the Smithsonian with your RubberMaid totes. I think I create some pretty nice work, but I am a definite mid-range artisan, so there will be more apps this year.

That's a pretty good plan, I think. If I really start working on product now, there is the possibility of a pretty good year.

I let you know how it worked in January ought ten.

Saturday, January 17


Well, the site is up but the labor pains continue.

Don't worry. I'll stop the clever word play now.

Some browsers can't see it. Some see it but the text is all floopy. ("Floopy" is a technical term known only to us computer experts.)

My fancy font shows up but I seem to have sacrificed a lot to get it that way.

I keep working on it, but some of the thrill is gone.

The answer, I guess, is to accept it for what it is. Recognize its limitations, appreciate what it does well. Show it off to friends and if some don't like it, so be it. It serves a purpose, but it can never be all things to all people.

I'm thinking it's sort of like marriage.

Friday, January 16

how cold is it?

The water in the cats' dish froze. They were not amused.

The ignition in the van had to be thawed out with a hair dryer so we could start it.

I'm wearing shoes in the house.

I'm going to visit my Mom because I love her. And because her house is usually warm enough to grow orchids.

I'm trying to embrace Winter, but it ain't huggin' me back.

Thursday, January 15

birth announcement!

She has been delivered

There is a slight glitch. Some browsers don't display the photos. It's only one or two so far, but I need to figure it out.

It is just a brochure site. No shopping cart, no fancy animations, no music. Just stuff about my stuff. A little bit about me.

But, I have my name back and it's on the internets.

This is good.

Wednesday, January 14

sometimes it takes me a while

So, one of the tasks I assigned myself for January was to get a web site up. Nothing fancy. Information only, no shopping cart or anything. Last night, curled up in my big chair, American Idol on TV, a list of cheap or free sites garnered from friends at the ready, I leapt.

And landed in PC hell.

"Hi. My name is Pat and I'm a MacHead."

"Hi Pat!"

The first place was specifically MicroSoft (shudder). The next offered Linux whatever that is. The third seemed happy to allow this ragtag OS in, but it was like being assigned the broken desk, the office with no windows. Pun intended. I was stuck with 2 fonts and uploading my pictures took 15 minutes (or 7 Idol auditions). But wait! I could upgrade to Site Builder PLUS! Oh hurrah. I would have fonts, I would have options, I would have....

"I'm sorry. This program is not available for Mac. Would you like SiteBuilder Lite?"

What? Am I building a site or buying a beer? No, I do not want the Lite program. Cancel me.

"I'm sorry, to cancel you must call our offices at..."


The bikini girl was singing on Idol so I knew it was getting late. They always save the "interesting" contestants for later. I would have to call in the morning.

Now, I'm not sure what happened in the morning to re-engage my brain cells. I was sitting at the big 'puter waiting for my coffee to brew and I remembered. My Mac mail account had web pages. I clicked on the account and, sure enough, free web site, host my domain name for free, beautiful templates, language I understood.

In 30 minutes, I had 3 pages done. In the special font I found for my business. Photos were drag and drop. All the elements could be dragged about at will. I was laughing out loud at the sheer fun of it.

In a few hours, once my domain name has been morphed (or whatever the techincal term is) onto my site, I will post the link.

While we wait, shall we contemplate the utter superiority of everything Apple? People always point out compatibility with all those PC programs as a reason to stay PC, but I forgot the prevailing wisdom about why it doesn't matter.

You don't need them.

Sorry, Steve, I forgot.

Friday, January 9

yep, I did it again..

Sent out my first app of the year with 1 hour to spare. Literally. The PO closed at 5:30, Russell dropped off my app at 4:30. I was going to be sooo organized this year. Well, one false start does not a season make. Allentown is due in a few weeks. Maybe I can get that one out a day early. Baby steps.

The first app, as usual, is for 100 American Craftsmen at the Kenan Center in Lockport. I've written of this show before. I love starting the season there with the Spring show and ending there with Christmas. I've only been shut out once, and that was wait list, not an outright rejection. But I sweat it every year. Some really wonderful people are turned away. I'm lucky that my medium is an unusual one.

This year was especially difficult because of the dog thing and being so depressed. Plus, they always have the deadline so close to Christmas. There is no time to regroup. At the artist meeting last year they made a huge deal about jury slides and how we really need to send new ones every year. More pressure. I pulled out some pictures I took during the year and I made a new mirror that we ended up photographing this morning at 8:30. I had to be a work at 9:30. Livin' on the edge, I am. A rebel.

So, are my jury slides for the first app

And the booth shot

They were totally obsessed with booth shots at the meeting last year and the app had a whole page devoted to it. How to design your booth, what to avoid, people who would "mentor" you, etc. OK. I noted that we had built new shelving for the left wall and added a screen. I did not write "please, oh please, love me" that was implied.

So, I have dipped my toe in the cold water of maybe/maybe not for the coming year. They will come at me fast and furious for the next 3 months or so. I am truly going to organize it all this weekend. Truly.

I was" invited to apply" to be in the Junior League Decorator Show House gift shop this year. They have invited me before but I never followed through. This year I was approached by one of the women associated with it at the Gilda Show and she said she thought my things would be well received. I know friends who do well there and, actually, it is nice to be asked. Now, for this jury, you bring in your actual things, they take you to a display area, you set up and leave and then they jury your stuff in person. Makes me twitch. That's in a few weeks, too. Oh man.

Plus, I want to get my web site up and send out some marketing materials to libraries for the book pins. I still have to close out the books for last year, file the stuff away and break out this year's charts, graphs and grids. None of which I will actually use, but it will make me feel so businesslike.

Better get to it...

Tuesday, January 6

through the mail slot

I got 3 pieces of mail yesterday.

The usual alumni money plea from my college bearing a picture of a campus I would not recognize if I was plopped in the center of it and asked to name where I was.

A postcard from the neighborhood fitness center bearing a picture of a 90 yr old man with great abs and the caption "Aging Gracefully?"

A pamphlet from the Scooter Store.

When did I stop getting stuff from Victoria's Secret and get on the geriatric mailng list? Who turned me in? AARP? They know everything.

Thank God I renewed my subscription to Rolling Stone.

Sunday, January 4

dust and dreams

I am allergic to mundane things. Pollen. Wool. Dust. Perfume. They make me itch or sneeze or wheeze. I would like to have exotic allergies. I read of a celebrity once who was allergic to tree nuts. Tree nuts. Imagine. I admit to never giving one moment's thought to how nuts grow and I have difficulty picturing a peanut tree. So it must be chestnuts. That is a rather cool allergy. Dust, not so much.

So,anyway, cleaning my studio has been an exercise in patience and tolerance. I clean in 20 minute spurts, go downstairs to wash my hands and grab clean air, wait for my nose to stop running. There is not just ordinary dust in the studio. There is paper dust that clings to everything, flakes of gesso, messes of glue overspray. Charming. Who works here?

But I am finding little treasures as I plod along. Pictures of us camping, Harvest at the prom, Max and Zeke in Bar Harbor, our sweet terrier, Golem, Jake asleep on Russell. Billy smiling at the girl beside him, a girl whose name I cannot begin to remember. The pictures make me put the cleaning rag down and time travel. The studio is quiet, filled with sun and memories.

Then I go back to sorting charms, labeling boxes (I am so proud of my labels), tossing anything I haven't found a use for in the past 5 years.

Last night I had a dream that someone gave me a dog to help me feel better. It was sort of a Golden, but not quite, and it wore a red collar. The dog trotted in and out of the dream that had morphed into a story about an art show in a hospital. In my dream I gave up trying to find the show venue and went to sleep. In the morning, I went out to find the dog with the red collar. I called and called and dogs came. Little ones, big ones, a Dalmatian, a Great Dane. They started to fill the yard and still I called but the dog with the red collar was nowhere to be seen.

I woke with the image of a yard filled with dogs and the echo of the name I had been calling: "Jake! Jakey Boy! Come on!"

Yeah, I've never been one to have those Freudian dreams where the meaning was obscure and gauzy with metaphor.

I miss my dog.