April 01, 2016

April Fools

It has been rainy here off and on, and with the rain comes bugs trying to get inside away from it. In Florida, that means cockroaches. Here was my April Fool's joke presented to me by Mother Nature a day early...

My morning routine is set in stone. By that I mean I consistently complete each step precisely in the same amount of time. My hair is course and curly and when I wash it, I have an exact time frame that I have to dry it in before I have to just get it wet and start all over. This particular morning, I added a step which threw me off completely. I got hungry and decided to eat before I finished my routine instead of after.

My hair was almost at that critical drying point, so I had to rush to get back on track. If you have course, curly hair, you understand that. I picked up my blow dryer and turned it on in one motion and aimed it towards my wet but drying head. Apparently, a cockroach had decided to make the inside of my blower dryer his little home, so as soon as the power kicked in he was blown directly into my wet hair. OMG

I did not have my glasses on, but could see in the mirror that "something" was in my hair. I keep small lobster claw hair clips all over my bathroom and they are a tortoise shell color which is the same color as a cockroach. I thought for a split second that I might have swooped up one of those clips and it flew into my hair. Another split second passed and the clip started wiggling. He was tangled in my curls and trying to free himself. OMG. O. M. G. Normally, the 9 year old girl inside me would come out. The blow dryer would go flying, I would have squealed in the highest of pitches, and would have done a high step prance all over my bathroom until he fell to the floor. But because my glasses weren't on I didn't panic immediately.

Within a nano second, he freed himself and fell to my shoulder. By then I knew I wasn't dealing with a hair clip. A big squirmy wiggle from me sent him falling to the floor where he scurried away. I'm sure he was thinking the same thing I was. "What the freak was that?! " I told hubs what happened and he said "well, I didn't hear you scream". I'm still shuddering that it happened at all, but grateful I didn't realize it until it was over. Getting older has its perks.

I have had other close encounters of the roach kind in my lifetime, and they have all been terrifying. I can't think of anything more disturbing with which to have an encounter. I guess I should thank God that my eyesight is poor and spared me the panic until it was really all over.

My intention was to insert an image of a cockroach in this post. But looking at them grossed me out. The images of the cartoon ones was even too horrible to consider. So you got puppies. You're welcome.

Happy April 1st!

March 07, 2016

Draw Winky

My Happy Place has always been wherever I am doing something creative with my hands. I can spend hours or days in my craft room. It’s where I get inspiration, get lost in my thoughts, let go of inhibitions and just play.

The following stories about my early creative side are so ME.

In the summer between second and third grade, 1960 I do believe, the public school near our house had a fun summer school sort of thing. It is not clear in my adult head, what it actually was because there was no curriculum that I can recall, just a camp kind of atmosphere where we went to play. It could have been for a day or two, or longer, I’m not clear on that part either. I am sure of the time frame because I attended that public school in second grade before attending Catholic school in third grade the following year.
I doubt very seriously if it was something my parents had to pay for, that wasn’t going to happen, but nonetheless, we went to the school for part of the day and did stuff. Fun stuff. Like gathering in the auditorium and watching black and white movies. It’s where I first saw Esther Williams and for those of you too young to know who she is, she was a swimmer turned movie star and they made movies about, well, swimming - starring Esther... Busby Berkely at his best. She was beautiful in her one-piece ultra conservative bathing suits, and she wore spotless makeup and smiled while she swam. When she took off her swimming cap and shook her head, her hair fell into a beautifully coiffed-do. I was mesmerized.

More appropriate to my story, the other fun thing we did at that summer school was to go to an art room and do projects. I vividly remember drawing an elephant walking on grass. I added a palm tree for effect! I was awesome (not) and I was so proud. When I shared it with the teacher he immediately said “Well, that is the skinniest elephant I’ve ever seen” and he promptly handed it back to me and walked away.  What?! His obvious disenchantment with my drawing was shocking! Shocking.

A couple of years later, I made the most incredible Father’s Day card ever (not). I drew a popgun on the front of a folded piece of paper and wrote “to the best Pop ever” on the inside. See what I did there – Oh, I was brilliant alright! My dad oohed and ahhed over it and hung it in the garage over his workbench, obviously so he could look at it all day. Every day.
Eventually I found the card ripped in half and in his trashcan in the garage and immediately kicked my little brother’s ass for having the audacity to go in there, take dad’s treasured card and just throw it away like that.
Tom told me that it wasn’t him but dad who threw it away, but I just knew he was lying. Like a rug. He had to be. Snickering little liar! That night, I overheard my dad tell my mom the story, and my heart was broken. Yes, dad was the one who threw my awesome card away.
I’d love to insert here that I apologized to little Tom and gave him a hug. Bwahaha, I never apologized for anything. As my grandson says… “I’m sorry for nothing!

Forward to 5th grade in Catholic school. Our art assignment was to draw something depicting Egypt. I spent the entire class staring at my paper and looking at papers around me being drawn by my classmates in hopes that I could copy someone else's idea (cuz that’s what great artists do) but I had NOTHING. Oh, I knew about sphinx and pyramids and deserts but I couldn’t make a single mark on my paper. The only thing I drew was a complete blank. My head was spinning and my inside voice was saying, “draw SOMETHING!” Instead - I turned in a blank paper. Blank! I got a D that semester on my report card. In art for Pete’s! And to make it even more horrendous, Father Hagerty circled the D in red ink before my report card got handed to me. Yes, the pastor of our church came to each classroom and looked at every single report card in the front of the class. He was seated at the teacher’s desk with a red ballpoint pen in his hand. Just watching him make a move towards a report card with that pen brought audible gasps from the entire class. The red circle of shame, and I got one. I also got my ass kicked when my parents saw that D.

In my junior or was it my senior year in high school (don’t ask me why that time frame is blurry to me) I found a match book with this on it:

This was an ad for Art Instruction School of America, and this dear was named Winky. I of course, drew Winky and sent it in.  It said... "draw Winky and you too can become a famous artist". Well, Lo and Behold, a representative of the famous school came knocking on our door soon after, proclaiming I had soooo much potential and would be the perfect candidate for their at-home art instruction classes.
More than anything this gentleman said, I remember that he had one arm. I stared at his fake arm, which was sticking out of the sleeve of his suit jacket. It was very low tech and actually looked like a department store mannequin’s arm - flesh toned and stiff. The fingers didn't move. This was the late sixties, so technology hadn't quite kicked in for prosthetics. I only heard about every tenth word of his pitch, because in my head I was saying "don't stare at his arm, don't stare at his arm".
I begggggged my mom to let me sign up, and looking back on it all, I am amazed that she agreed, but she did! I know it was beyond our budget, but I swore I’d do all the assignments and become a great artist with a brilliant career.

So there I was, a student in Art Instruction School’s at-home art classes. They sent me real supplies, like a wooden drawing board and pencils and chalks and charcoal and water colors. This is how it worked: they provided you with an assignment every few weeks or so, to which you would read the instructions on how to do the technique, then you used the supplied tools to complete the assignment. After completion, you sent back your paper to the school. When it came back after grading, there were some critiquing notes on the pages - written in red ink of course, the color of shame - and a letter grade at the top. I’m pretty sure I was a solid C student. I'm not kidding - it was the man-art-teacher-who-hated-my-elephant all over again. I don’t remember how many assignments I did before I quit… But I do know my mom made me finish making the monthly payments until the contract was done. In my own defense, you can read all day long how to use watercolors (or any other technique), but figuring out how to actually do it on your own was difficult.
Turns out, I wasn’t the perfect candidate for at-home art instruction. Surprise! But that wooden drawing board came in real handy later during my apartment years. I used it as a weapon to hurl like a frisbee on top of gigantic roaches or spiders that creeped their way in.

Thank you Art Instruction Schools, I have no diploma, no brilliant art career. Just a smack on the back of the head from my mother ("I told you so, you never finish anything") and the memory of a frightfully bad artificial limb burned eternally into the front of it.

February 29, 2016

Time Flies

Well there ya go. A year and a half later, here I am back on my blog. A lot has happened in that time, some good, some not so good, but as the saying goes, "life goes on". My gut wants me to go political and say something about this crazy presidential election. On a daily basis, I have my fingers in my ears, saying la la la la la la so I can't hear all the nonsense. I have made myself a promise not to go there. You're welcome.

So I will stay in a happy place and talk about what brings me joy. I am 2 years and 10 months away from retirement from my day job. But who's counting?! Well, I believe that I AM counting. After that, my joy will be multiplied because I will be in creative mode all day every day for as long as my head and heart are in it. Where it's Christmas every day and my floors are covered in glitter no matter how many times I mop, vacuum, or sweep.

Our craftshow successes have certainly been a highlight of the last year and a half. We are planning this year to add one more big show to our schedule, so production has been beefed up. Our little snowmen have been very well received by our followers. I can't believe we have followers, but we do. It's a very rewarding part of crafting. Hearing that someone appreciates what we do makes us very happy, almost as much as getting paid for what we do.

We met this weekend at my house to create another batch of snowmen. I must say it's a large pre-production getting ready, mainly because we have crates and crates and crates full of tiny parts, ribbon, beads, wire, glue, rhinestones, baubles, glitter, watch parts, and of course bottles, all of which are stored in my guest room and have to be dragged out to my kitchen where we work off of three 6 ft tables,  a 4 ft table, and a card table. We desperately need a studio. But since we are 60 miles apart, that isn't an option.

Here are some cuties being assembled.

We've come a loooong way in our thought process and design. When we first started, our snowmen had funky parts for eyes, noses, and mouths. It got a little over the top, so after listening to our customers say that they wanted more traditional looking snowmen we reeled ourselves in.

Here are some pictures of our latest batch in the drying process and awaiting glitter.


We have expanded way beyond snowmen and added several upcycled craft items. We've made wreaths using burned out Christmas bulbs that have been glittered.

 The "before" bulbs


A closeup of the bulbs, so pretty! 

... dioramas using vintage lanterns and bubblegum machines.

And wine gift tags/ornaments from used wine corks.

Thanks for looking. My promise to myself is to journal more about things that make me happy. Leave me a comment! I'd love to hear from you.