Treading Water

I don’t swim. Lessons courtesy of the Chicago Park District were an abject failure. I do however do a wonderful dead man’s float, trouble with that is I’m face down. I lack the skill needed to move my arms and legs at the same time. Too much to think about, my head is full of much more interesting stuff. (OK, so I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. It is definitely a coordination issue.) I bring this all up because I feel like I’m drowning in too much to do-ville. I am miles behind on emails, sorry Lisa, Karen, and anyone else I am behind on. Phone calls? Just family these days for the most part. Seeing friends? I can’t remember what most of them look like. Getting a business started is no easy task. I also have a very big house which is suffering from three cats,glitter, California dust, and a twenty-three year old (I won’t say who….initials B.Z.) then there is this, my project, and it’s accompanying blogging, and then I decided to sell my stuff on etsy, oh and I signed on for not one, but two Christmas shows. We had fast food for dinner tonight. We never, never, ever eat fast food, but as I watch the waves approaching I asked for a life line, Five Guys Burgers, and by the way, I don’t usually eat burgers. Years ago I worked in customer service, I made jokes about becoming an air traffic controller. My job at the desk included, cashing checks, customer complaints, bottle returns (I’m clearing the cobwebs off myself as I speak…), carpet shampooer rentals, answering the phone, taking the cash pick ups from the register, customer returns, film developing, checking in the armored truck delivery, and more. That seems like a cakewalk these days. First of all I’m older, and have less energy, and at least at the grocery store I had fellow employees. Dan does what he can, but there is a lot that is just me. I think I bit off way more…than I was prepared for. (Bet you thought I was going to say “more than I can chew”. I’m right, aren’t I?) I’ll get it done, all of it. I’ll manage to get the house clean for the holidays, make enough fairies to supply a small fairyland army, decorate my home for Christmas, shop for presents, cook, grocery shop, open a business……help! I’m drowning.

For tonight just a little representation of how I am feeling. A little pastel chalk, pencil, and pen. Wait, not so fast. Notice the fish scales forming on my legs, its my confidence growing, one scale at a time. My head should be above water in about a month.. I am a very determined woman. If you see me face down remind me to turn over.11 20

Observations From The Coffee Shop

I’m waiting. A practice I am normally not good at, but then again it depends on who or what you are waiting for. I’m sitting in a Starbucks in Dana Point, California. I believe it is a fairly affluent community, most of what lies along the Southern California Coast seems to be. At least that’s my first observation.  I’m waiting for Dan who has a job interview up the street. Like I said, it depends on who and what you are waiting for. In my case, my whole world is up the street in the hands of people I don’t know. I can only sit here and wait, hoping that they are smart enough to recognize what I already know. He’s the best man…for the job, as a father, as my husband. Loyal to the core, hardworking, thoughtful, and intelligent beyond description. He’s one of those annoying people who’s turn takes forty minutes playing Trivial Pursuit, or who knows just about every answer on Jeopardy. I asked last night for good karma, I can only hope he feels mine as I write this. Do they care how loved he is? Probably not. Do they care about how many people in our life are pulling for him right now? No. They (and by this I mean all employers) look at a resume and make assumptions, or do the math and figure out how old he is, and then decide he isn’t worth talking to. But if they really did the math they would also figure out just how quickly he went from the guy walking the streets of Chicago selling beer, to running the military for one of the biggest energy drinks in the world, and doing it very successfully. He is the guy who cares about everything he does, no matter what it is. The guy who sees the old person at the store and asks if they need assistance. The guy who can’t walk by someone in need without offering help. Not long ago down in San Diego a homeless guy thanked Dan, not for money, but for the full takeout dinner he bought him from the nice Italian restaurant we were eating at, and more than that, for talking to him like a human being. So people on the other side of the desk up the street, take a good look, and if you see even one tenth of what I see, you will hire him on the spot.

My second observation. When I walked into Starbucks the young man in the line ahead of me was obviously handicapped. He purchased three drinks, and as I watched him put his change in his pocket he handed the barista a twenty-dollar bill, I’m assuming a tip on an order that was less than twenty dollars.Right away it struck me as wrong. I don’t know exactly what was wrong with this young man, but I am old enough to recognize disability. Obviously I don’t know him, he could be a millionaire for all I know, but I just felt that it was wrong to take that twenty. (Then the young barista called me “Miss” instead of “Ma’am” and I forgave him on the spot….just kidding) As I sat sort of stewing about it I remembered something out of my own young past. Mr. Norian. He was a customer at the grocery store I worked at. Cute as a button, probably in his 70’s. Actually if Dopey of Seven Dwarfs fame came to life, he would look like Mr. Norian. He came in the store almost daily. He would flirt with all of us girls in the service desk, sometimes he would bring us coffee. He really liked me, and there were days when he would come in and ask to take me to lunch. I always went. It was always at the Burger King across the street. It went on for several years. Turns out when all of us “Dominick’s Girls” got together, we all knew him, he was doing the same thing at about four stores. Then came they day when we all found out the truth. Mr. Norian was broke, he was playing the system. He befriended all of us in the service desk, not only at Dominick’s, but also our competitors, Jewel and Treasure Island. He was passing checks. Not to accumulate wealth, but to survive.  We were all guilty of overriding his check cashing limit. He simply wrote checks to cover checks, for years, before it at last caught up with him. I never would have taken those lunches had I known, in fact I would have bought him lunch. As always, I need to remember not to be too hasty in judging someone else. Sometimes you are young and you just don’t know.

Dinner on the other side of the hills, no time for art. I did of course make more fairies today, but I also did a little doodling at the coffee shop.11 19

It’s A Woman’s Perogative…

Before I begin, I know I was stressing over not getting to my art because I was doing my other art, but I changed my mind today. I didn’t stop my fairy making today in order to move on to my “fine art” because quite frankly I was having too much fun. There is a lot of tedious process in the making of my ornaments, and that sometimes can weigh on me, but today was great. That is because today I began to get creative. Of course the entire process is creative, but once I really get into making the fairies my imagination starts kick into overdrive. My friend Theresa requested a special order today, something religious…Hello Holy Family (check out the Baby Jesus, he has hair!) Then I began to look at my supplies and think of other ways to play with them. A fairy swinging on a snowy pine cone. A couple of newlywed fairies sharing a moment on a log. A fairy riding on the back of a bird. It’s only the beginning. I have more ideas swimming around in my head than I probably have time for. I’ll be back to my fine art tomorrow since I will be out of the house, therefore sans glue gun. I think I was in a funk and the monotony of what I was doing was getting to me a little, OK a lot. I’m sure in a few days from now, and a few back aches from now, I may feel like whining again, but I won’t. Time to gear up for that “holiday spirit” we are all supposed to have. I’m working on it. There may be a break in Dan’s search for the elusive job. We need lots of prayers and good karma sent our way. It’s been a long few months and I can’t think of a better way to kick off the holiday season than a little good news.

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A Long Overdue “Thank You”

Is there such a thing as a glitter exterminator? It’s as if the glitter is reproducing, is that possible? I invited a friend over for dinner with two warnings. 1. She (who lives alone) would have to sit through The Walking Dead. 2. Expect to be glittered upon leaving. It is only the beginning. I’m fifty-six ornaments in at this point, and I hope to have two hundred by the end of the Christmas season. Once again my formal and public apology to the men in my life for making them leave the house all sparkly.

Speaking of apologies I have a huge one to make. My lovely Aunt Rita sent me a birthday present. My birthday was October 26th. I have reminded myself, and have asked Dan to remind me several times to write a note of thanks. Did I mention that procrastination is as ingrained in me as my clumsiness? (That would be why I am making fairies like a mad woman at the last-minute. It’s not like I just found out that its going to be Christmas) That is why my project for this evening is a thank you card for my thoughtful Aunt. There will be groveling about my not so thoughtful procrastination.

I mentioned a few days ago that I was shamelessly asking people to look at my etsy shop. Never occurred to me to give a link. (You must forgive me. My computer knowledge only goes so far, remember I got an electric typewriter for my high school graduation…yes, I’m that old)

In the spirit of the season that isn’t quite here…an amaryllis in watercolor…for the card, that I will send…tomorrow, promise!11 17

https://www.etsy.com/shop/jackiez59

Regaining Control

I woke this morning and realized I had a decision to make. I could either continue on my current course and find myself falling deeper and deeper into a depressed state about my work, or I could change myself once again. I am seven months into this year-long project, seven months that have changed me in countless ways, not only artistically, but on several levels. In the last few weeks due to things here at home, my Dad’s fall and subsequent issues, Dan’s unemployment, and our business, I found myself feeling anxious and somewhat depressed. I was beginning to lose ground on everything that I have achieved for myself. As excited as I am at the prospect of having our business open, I’m also feeling tremendous pressure, and then what do I do? I add more pressure by signing up for a show. I realized this morning that I was pulling away from my new-found confidence and falling victim to my own self doubt. I have made about thirty-five fairy ornaments in the last three days, but haven’t been doing any art. As I explained to Dan today, while I care very deeply about everything I do, these ornaments I’m working on don’t have the same meaning for me as my other fine art does. I called them “crap” today, which is wrong. They are beautiful, and I truly do spend entirely too much time on them, they are art, but not the art I want to do. I had a little meltdown yesterday. I was working on the ornaments feeling anxious about not having enough done, because I really want to make money for Christmas, and feeling pressure to produce for my project, and of course the million other pressures I put on myself day after day, and I began to cry. I went to my room and just sat quietly for a moment, then came down to tell Dan that I needed to get out of the house for a while. I just needed to clear my head. As always he is wonderful and understanding, and he took me out for a cup of coffee. I came back feeling a little better, and went back to work on the ornaments. I did take time to create the gift certificate I posted last night, but I was still unhappy. It wasn’t by any means my finest work. This morning’s decision was to not give the power back to the me that was never good enough. I do need ornaments for the show, and to hopefully sell on etsy, but I need to give myself the time that I cheated myself out of for far too many years. I took an hour this morning to sketch, and then I worked all afternoon making fairies. I quit at six, Dan and I made dinner together, and then I painted while we watched a movie. A jam-packed day, but a far more satisfying one. I just need to make sure that when I’m juggling too many balls I make sure I’m the one on the top.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I like drawing and painting ordinary objects. I have a nice collection of depression glass. In that collection I have a couple of really cool kitchen pieces. The one I painted tonight is an old ice breaker. It still has its original green glass bowl. A watercolor.

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Phoning It In

I admit it, I should have taken the night off last night. Apologies to all who read my blog. I really should have named this post “burning the candle at both ends”, because that is what I have been doing. We are heavily into the early stages of our business, and I signed on to do the craft show which is only three weeks away. I’ve been stressed and worried, and not sleeping well. There is also the issue of my knees. One of the wonderful side effects of all of my knee surgeries is the intense pain that decides to make an appearance in the middle of the night. It happened at about two o’clock yesterday morning. I woke feeling as though the creatures who live under the bed were taking batting practice against my right kneecap. I couldn’t get back to sleep so I wound up on the couch watching The Color Purple at 3:15 in the morning. I fell asleep about an hour into the movie, but then woke on and off until I finally gave up around 6:30. I started my day very soon after, and worked until dinner. I attempted to do an art project afterwards, but quite honestly I was done. By the time I wrote last night’s post I was seeing double. I put in another full day of fairy making today. I found myself really stressing out today, and part of that was this project. I haven’t had time to do much other art aside from stuff for the show. I was missing it. Doing something artistic every day has become a habit, and while I consider my craft work to be very artistic, it just isn’t the same. I made sure to take a little time to do something, and since we are getting closer to opening our business I decided to do something for that. We were working on the business plan today and talked about gift certificates. I made designing that my project for this evening. It may be rough for the next few weeks as I juggle starting the business, the holidays, and my project, but I’m going to do the best I can as always.

The gift certificate has our business name blocked out for the moment, (also I cropped it just a wee bit off for this post) but will be revealed soon enough.#2

Hello, I’m Brian’s Mother

As I said the other evening, I am always honest in my blog writing. Full disclosure here. The very funny remark I attributed to my son last night about glitter being the herpes of craft supplies, should actually be attributed to the very funny Jim Gaffigan. When I told my son tonight that I had quoted him in my blog he was horrified. First because he said if I had told him I was going to quote him he would have told me the line was from Mr. Gaffigan, but I think even more so because I am exposing his secret to the world. Yes, he has a mother. When Brian was a little boy he was very attached to me. So much so in fact that Dan thought Brian didn’t like him. How quickly things change. By the time he was nine Brian was distancing himself from me. How I missed those cuddles with my little boy. It was in those years that the head bob began. This was Brian’s way of allowing me to kiss him. I’m not exactly sure when he passed me in height, but as soon as he did he began the practice of bowing down just enough for me to kiss the top of his head. I had spent years doing an annual art project with Jessica’s class. Brian stopped me by the fourth grade. Things have improved in the last few years. My little boy is now a man. He still doesn’t seem to want his friends to know I exist, but he has grown a little more affectionate with me. About a year or so ago I did him a favor. I don’t even remember what. What I do remember is that when he came over to hug me in thanks, I freaked. It had been so long since he came near me I wasn’t sure what was going on, I could say so much more, but I know without a doubt that he won’t be happy with the little bit of him that I have exposed here. All in love my son

I spent my day making fairies once again, so another ghost of projects past. I took an old flatware box and gutted it. Turned it into a box for pretty writing materials for a friend. She loved it. Hopefully tomorrow I can get back to some art that is just for me.

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Finding The Right Words

There are many nights as I sit and write this blog where words fail me. I can’t quite think of exactly what I want to say, or exactly how to form the sentence to convey the point I’m trying to make. Eventually something comes to me, and for the most part I am happy with the outcome. Last night in my description of the glitter issues that confront my family I consulted a thesaurus looking for synonyms. I was trying to express just how defenseless we feel in the war against glitter. Tonight as Dan, Brian and I sat at the dinner table it became apparent that the glitter was already taking the upper hand. Each of us was sparkling. While that wasn’t surprising for either Dan or I, as we were both in the middle of the mix of my supplies all day in the dining room, but for Brian who had only passed through to be sparkling just proves my point. That’s when Brian came up with the words I was looking for last night. He called glitter the “herpes of craft supplies”. I couldn’t have said it better. I laughed at him and asked where he was last night when I needed him.

Dan as always is my extra pair of hands. He is doing all of what he calls the “grunt work”, but it is of immense help to me as I try to crank out as much work as possible. I  shouldn’t say “crank out”, I actually spend far too much time on each piece. When I stated last night that I don’t charge enough for my work I wasn’t exaggerating. I will fuss over the smallest detail, but I care so much about what I do that I can’t help myself. When it comes to pricing I agonize over it. I’m always sure that I’m charging too much…wait, not enough, but no one will pay that much, I wouldn’t pay that much, but it took me this (insert minutes) long, then there is “There’s always a kid with $5 , I need to have something they could buy”.  Years ago in Chicago I had my own business painting murals. My first clients lived a half hour drive from me. They wanted their “Hey, Diddle, Diddle” border reproduced on the nursery wall in a much larger scale. Get ready to groan, shake your head in disbelief, have your jaw hit the floor, I charged $250. That’s all. A week’s work, an hour drive daily, including supplies, for $250. Dan tried in vain to talk me into a price that was reasonable for the amount of work I was doing, while being fair to the clients. I couldn’t do it. As I explained to him, the wife was a social worker, and the husband worked at a grocery store. He tried to talk some sense into me, explaining that they hired me, that it wasn’t my problem what they could and couldn’t afford. I didn’t change the price. Apparently I have many issues, and much in the way of my favorite scapegoat, Catholic guilt.

We had other company in the dining room. Our cats are particularly happy. There are many small items for them to steal and bat around, or string to run off with. Mia loves it most of all, so much in fact that she likes to join us in the center of things, like the middle of the table, in the middle of my supplies.image

Tonight another upcycled project. One I like so much I may never sell it. An old box that I bought for a few dollars. Painted, decoupaged with one of my photos from France and some scrapbook memorabilia. Acrylic paint projects (12)

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IMG_2177But then again, I need the cash…now if I only knew what to price it at…

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like…

It’s beginning to look a lot like…a stripper named Ginger is renting my spare room. It’s that time of year again. The time when the men in my house look like they’ve just left a gentleman’s club. (I certainly don’t get that name. Nothing gentlemanly about it!) Glitter, everywhere you look, glitter. Dan has left this house with not a trace of sparkle only to find himself glistening at a business meeting. I try hard to keep it contained but it is as if it is a force unto itself, just like the hair from my three cats that I fight on a daily basis, glitter is resistant to all cleaning methods. Anyone who steps foot into my house in the months of November and December can expect to leave just a little shinier than when they walked in. My apologies in advance. As long as I’m apologizing…Dear Father Karl, I am sorry that when you left our house in your nice black priest attire your back was white with cat hair.

In my efforts to help with the family finances I am participating in a craft show in December. I generally don’t do shows. I hate, hate, hate, sitting still for hours. I never sit still. I can’t even watch a movie without reading a magazine. I don’t do much crafting. I believe I have mentioned the “toilet paper cover” art that I have seen at some of these shows. The number of ways people can come up with to disguise a roll of toilet paper is incredible. I think my favorite have to be the crocheted ones with the doll’s head on them. I’m not a germ freak or anything, but has anyone given any consideration to how many germs clings to that yarn? Yuck. There are of course plenty of soda can airplanes, and hideous garden ornaments, but there also some really nice things as well. I try to bring a little something different to these shows. My most popular item is a fairy made from deconstructed silk flowers. I’ve been making them for probably fifteen years. They have evolved over the years and are really quite nice. Two years ago someone asked if I could make a mermaid. I said yes, although I had never tried, but it turned out to be quite successful. One night doodling on a napkin I came up with a zombie. Everyone needs a zombie on their Christmas tree. In these days of unemployment I am hoping to pay for Christmas. I also want to say this, I have been open and honest in all of my blogging. This blog is a blatant plug for my etsy shop. (I am jackiez59) I am shamelessly promoting myself. I will begin listing some of my ornaments and other items tomorrow. I also will do special orders. Hopefully by next week it will include cards and prints. If you like my stuff, and are in any way in the holiday spirit, please take a look. As always I put my heart and soul in all I do. I can guarantee quality under-priced work. (Again, it’s the Catholic guilt thing, and maybe the “not good enough” thing as well. I never charge enough)

Tonight I am sharing some fairies, a mermaid, a zombie, and my favorite, The Wizard of Oz.  No two are alike, and just for old times sake…Sr. AloysiusAmelia (1)

Brianna (2)

Elizabeth #10 (3)

Zoey (2)

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Dorene (3)

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A Distant “Goodbye”

As the day draws nearer to my Dad getting the keys to his new place, I find my mind returning to thoughts of he and my Mom. I won’t get a chance to say goodbye to their home. I live too far away, and well, if you regularly read my thoughts, you know that money is tight. Going home isn’t an option. Tonight as I prepare dinner it is just Dan and I. The kids are grown. Brian is still here, but as young men often do, he is out more than he is in. We are in the kitchen/family room together, Dan watching the television and reading, I am cooking, painting, and writing all at once. There is a comfortable silence wrapped around us, one that two people who know each other so well, and love each so much can be content in, like a well-loved blanket. From time to time one of us speaks. A comment from him, or me asking his opinion on the piece I am working on. Satisfied to just be with each other. It makes me think about my parents. I’m sure they had evenings like this in that house. I am also sure that since my Mother died my Dad has longed for those evenings. Life moves, and although all of us moving through it have emotion, there is no emotion in time. Even though Mom has been gone for six years, the finality of her house no longer there for me to return to makes me sad. In a way it is like losing her all over again. But again there is time. It is time for life to continue there, another family will move into that house, another family who knows nothing of us or who we were as a family will make new memories there. For them it will be a new place, for me it will be the last place my Mother lived. One thing I have learned, particularly in these last few years, is to value these moments, these quiet evenings, because they won’t always be here. Each of us will have those moments of great loss, remember to hold on while you can.

On a less melancholy note, I am just about finished with my clock/bookcase. I say “just about” because I need to cover the back of the door, but it is a detail that isn’t important for tonight, and I need to add one more piece of trim to a shelf. What I am thrilled about is how it has turned out. The vision in my head is complete. I have so often mentioned that I love to do things for children. This is one of those projects. I’ve written so many posts that I don’t recall if I have ever written this before, so please forgive me, but then again it was one of the greatest compliments of my life. My Mother told me that she wished I were her mother, because of all the things I loved to do for my children. I am me because of her. I want to do things for as many children as I can. I am so excited about this project because there isn’t a doubt in my mind that when children come to our shop and see the enchanting world inside the clock, they will love it. When I had finished the clock face I was happy with it. However, the inside of the cabinet was empty. What to do? I had in mind all along the “Hickory, Dickory, Dock rhyme in my head. Inspiration struck. Why not a secret mouse house in the clock? First floor, the garden. Second floor, the main house. What to do on the third floor? It came to me last night. A bookstore, just like the one I will be opening. The mice are made of Sculpy, and the rooms are full of things I found in the garden, or leftovers from other craft projects. There are a few things that I think every child needs: discipline,love, and imagination. I want to spark a little magic in their minds.IMG_2118

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Finally, tonight a piece of work that isn’t mine. My friend, Gabby asked me for an art lesson. I’ve mentioned Gabby before, she is nine. I have been asked to teach before, but never felt comfortable passing on my “I’ve never had lessons, have a million bad habits, don’t really know what I’m doing, flying by the seat of my pants” art. For Gabby I’ll make an exception. We did a lesson in watercolor. Gabby’s Waterlily.IMG_2087Gabby did a beautiful painting.