A Gift

A few weeks ago when I hit the one year mark on this blog I wasn’t sure what direction I was going to take it in. I’m still not sure. My life has turned into something I never expected. It’s been a bittersweet week, and although I can’t explain what that means as of yet, it involves a major change. This blog has evolved from an art project into a daily journal of our life as a family going through the crisis of unemployment. Things had come to a head as of late and I was really feeling the stress of all of it. Things are no better as I write this. Dan and I are still looking for jobs without much luck. Just the other day I received a call back from a woman’s apparel store and was excited that something might be changing for us, but I didn’t get the job. The woman on the phone didn’t feel that I was qualified because I had never sold clothing before. That in spite of the fact that I worked customer service in a retail environment for more than eighteen years. I’m not quite sure what it is that she thought I was incapable of. I’ve been a wife and mother for thirty years, I have two grown children, I obviously have been in quite a few clothing stores, and have folded more than my share of laundry. In my job at the grocery store I handled thousands of monetary transactions, balanced daily sales reports, verified armor truck deliveries, and much, much more, but she wasn’t interested in anything I had to offer.

I’ve been losing faith. Faith in everything. Lately even my prayers are disrupted in my head by moments of doubt. There have been glimmers of hope, but I have seen them snatched away as quickly as they broke through the darkness. What has helped us through all of this is our deep love for each other, and the love and support of our families.

 

I wrote the words above three days ago and then I stopped writing. I quit, I let the weight of all of this get the best of me. I had given up. It has been so long since something positive has happened for us that I had fallen into a depression nearly as bad as the one I had suffered when my mother died. That was Friday. Saturday Dan and I headed down to San Diego. He has a job interview tomorrow and we were doing a little research on the product. He is well aware of the depths of my struggle, he is and always has been my lifeline. As we drove along I told him how much I wished something nice would happen for us, it has been so very long. Then we got the mail. Inside was a card from a friend. Inside the card was a gift beyond words. Yes there was money, not enough to start our business, but this isn’t about the money I found in the card, it’s about the hope. When I saw what was inside and read the words, I cried. It is enough to allow me to take a breath and believe in the future. We have gotten help from our families, they have been as generous as they can be both in support and varying amounts of cash. What made this different was that it was from someone who isn’t family, someone who knew my struggle and reached out to help. This person doesn’t want credit, and could barely take my thanks, but I have to be thankful to someone who gave me back my life, my hope, my faith. All we can do is move ahead. As our benefactor said, “Don’t look back, only look forward.”

 

So here we go. The burden feels a little lighter. Onward to better things.

As for tomorrow? Please pray for Dan for tomorrow’s interview. We need it, but in the mean time…The Curious Cat Books & Bistro is in the works. A few photos to share tonight, hopefully new art for tomorrow.

Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce

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For lunch? Grape Almond Chicken Salad & Macaroni Salad

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Afternoon Tea

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and a late night cheese plate to share…

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Everything but the bread made from scratch.

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Moving Ahead

I know I’ve been slacking off. It’s true, but there is a reason. A big funk, a big cloud of doom and gloom that settled over our house. There may have been sunny skies for the rest of Temecula, but in this house it was gray and cloudy. The unfortunate thing is that Dan and I hit the same rock bottom place at the same time, and sometimes there isn’t an umbrella big enough to make a difference. The other unfortunate thing is that it lasted for more than a day. I’m sure there are friends of mine that are happy that I was gone. Let’s face it, when you write every single day, and your friends have vowed to follow you, it becomes a bit of a homework assignment. So now that everyone has had a breather, and I’m forcing myself to see things differently, its time to write and create once again. Before I begin…

To begin with we are working hard and fast towards our business, the same one I have mentioned repeatedly here on the blog. The wait for a miracle is over. It’s official, we are in the process of opening a cafe/bookstore. So official in fact that we sought the advice of a lawyer, and bought some chairs! We are going to put our combined talents and interests together and get this thing moving. I have also mentioned my cooking. Its good, really, really good. We eat pretty much homemade everything, that is part of the plan. We own enough books between us to open a shop, but we will be keeping ours (because we love them so much!), and we will be opening an independent bookstore that carries new books. Our home reflects our personalities, warm, loving, friendly, and comfortable. Also a huge part of the plan. I’ve asked for karma and prayers here before, now I’m going to ask for something else. Our daughter was kind enough to begin a crowd funding campaign for us. We have preliminary approval for some business loans, but are short on start-up capital, in other words cash. If you’ve enjoyed my writing, my ranting, my self-pity, or my art over the last year, please consider clicking on the link below. You’ll see a little bit more of who we are, and why we are headed this way. We will be updating our progress as we move ahead. Thanks in advance even if you only take a peek.

By the way, Thank You to all who have been following me through out this year. There have been some pretty bad days, and just knowing that someone was listening helps more than I can say.

http://www.gofundme.com/8jgl04

Many of my art projects in the near future will be to do with our shop. One possibility for our “to go” lunch bags. Pen and ink and color pencil.

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Some Motherly Creativity

I took a couple of days off. We are still trying to figure out what to make of our lives these days. I read daily about how politicians want to cut funding for the unemployed. I read that people assume others don’t want to work, but they’re wrong. Some of those same people who rant against those who have less are the same people who would turn my husband down for a job because he is “too old”. Emotions and stress are running high around here. I find myself in tears at the grocery store because I can’t afford to spend an extra dime. We have more than many people, but that could change at any time for any of us, and these days it feels like its right around the corner for us. We are still working towards opening a business. It seems that it will be the only way to find work. Its terrifying but it is becoming the only option. It isn’t the way I wanted to do this, but we don’t always get to choose our path.

I haven’t really felt very creative, but I did push through my secret project. It was a scrapbook for my daughter and her husband. They just celebrated their first anniversary, and I wanted to give them something special. Sometimes I sure my kids must hate me, because sometimes I enjoy myself at their expense. Not in a mean way, but just because when its your Mom it tends to be embarrassing. Last year as Jessica and John were counting down towards their wedding I got a little creative with some photos of them. It started out as baby pics, but then graduated to full-blown Hollywood hits, movie stills altered with their image. I posted one every day for a month on Facebook. My personal Facebook isn’t public, so the embarrassment was contained. I’m going to post a few tonight with permission from my victims.

 

2 Days4 days 5 days 6 Days 8 Days 16 Days

 

 

 

 

There are more, but these are my favorites. Thanks to Jess and John for being such good sports.

 

 

I hope everyone who celebrates Easter had a wonderful day, and if you don’t I hope it was a great Sunday. Easter greetings from one of my cats, Sophie. We think she might just be part rabbit.Sophie bunny

 

To Be Continued…???

I’m back. Posting just a little tonight. One of the unfortunate side effects of moving west is leaving our sports teams behind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big sports fan. Actually if I never watched a sporting event again it would be fine with me. I think it has something to do with my childhood. My Dad played professional soccer when I was a kid. Every weekend my Mom would dress my sisters and I in matching dresses, frilly socks, with bows in our hair, and make us sit on the sidelines watching our Dad play. The other kids would be running around enjoying themselves, not us, we were like little matching dolls all sitting in a row. These days I’m just trying to be a supportive wife. The Blackhawks are in the playoffs, and if we want to see them we have to go out, and of course they went into triple overtime. We thankfully left before they lost. So here I am writing at ten when I should be going to bed.

I did manage to eke out a watercolor this afternoon. Still working on my super secret project that I can’t unveil as of yet.  The lovely Theresa came by today and gave me some beautiful tulips. I managed to paint them right before we walked out the door. Tonight is my last night of posting retrospective work. I’m still not sure now that my year is up how I will proceed with this blog. Lots of changes ahead in my life, most of which I can’t reveal quite yet, but I missed writing when I took the night off. I can’t promise myself that I’ll write every day, but I feel like its been something to hang onto in these troubled days since Dan lost his job. I think we know what we have to do. Making the plan is the easy part, jumping into it is a whole other matter. That may seem a little cryptic, but I will explain in time. Meanwhile, the last of my favorite pieces, and the first to head into the future. As for this blog and project? The title says it all.

4 17 14  Today’s work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo Riley, one of my cats in pencil.

 

 

 

 

IMG_9711  The children’s play area that we built for the children at our daughter’s wedding.

 

 

 

image  The tabletop I painted based on a vintage French powder tin that I own.

 

 

 

 

Ab aeterno (4)  Altered Art. The photo is from a gravestone in Virginia.

 

 

 

 

005  A piece I did fairly early in the project. An ode to my artistic journey.

Marker on Bristol.

 

 

5 13  My faux brick wall, made entirely from cardboard. My most often pinned pin on Pinterest.

 

 

 

image  Pastel desert scene.

 

 

 

 

 

6 3 3 6 3 (1)  The “before” and “after” of a table I bought for $5. Wood burned design painted with pearl paints.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0831 Theresa’s old kitchen cabinet door. Canvas cut to size to fill the center. I reproduced the business card of the restaurant where Dan and I had dinner in Paris for our 20th wedding anniversary.

 

 

 

 

12 20 Riley once again in pencil.

 

 

 

IMG_3262 The sign I made for my daughter and son-in-law for Christmas. Cardboard and burnt glue.

 

 

 

 

12 25 Custom designed Christmas fairy.

 

 

 

 

IMG_3427IMG_3430  More of the burnt paper and glue on a cardboard pencil box base.

 

 

 

 

2 7 14 (1) Polymer clay sculpting attached to a small cardboard box.

 

 

 

 

2 23 14 (2) Old window transformed into a memo station with mirror.

 

 

 

3 24 14 Another cabinet door.

 

 

 

 

4 4 14 (1) Antiqued mirror with one of my Paris photos tinted sepia.

 

 

 

 

There were a few more pieces that I love, but I’m tired. I think the triple overtime did me in.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 365

Today is day 365. I did it, a year of writing every day, of not giving up on myself, of pushing myself on days that I didn’t want to do anything, and keeping my promise to create every single day. In retrospect there are days when a bad mood, a bad attitude, laziness, or frustration presented itself in the work I produced. I can tell what days those are by looking at the work. I can also say that I am proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished. This blog evolved into a much more personal diary than I had ever intended. I have more to say about all of this, but as I’ve so often mentioned here on these pages, life sometimes takes turns that you never expect.

There was a tragedy in my family today. My beautiful niece was in the beginning of a new relationship. The young man was killed early this morning in a car accident. My heart breaks for her, I love her like she is my own daughter. I have no words to comfort her, and I am too far away to wrap my arms around her. I didn’t know this young man, I only saw photographs that showed two young people happy, and read messages on Facebook that made me aware of just how crazy he was about her. His brother was injured as well and is critical, he is the father of two young children. My heart bleeds for this family. I have asked for prayers before. I’m asking again. This time for some people I don’t really know, and for my niece. Ask God, whatever God is yours to help them through this terrible time, to bring them peace, to help that young father heal. As I told my niece a short time ago, hopefully she can find some solace in knowing that her boyfriend passed away at a point in his life when he was happy because of her. It is a day like today that puts so much in perspective. My life isn’t perfect, far from it, but many miles away from me is a lovely girl with a broken heart living a nightmare, and parents who are mourning the loss of one son, and praying for another to survive. I cannot even imagine their pain.

I’m still working on Maddie’s portrait. I redid entire portions of it, but I won’t be posting it tonight. I decided instead to go through this past years work and choose the pieces I’m most proud of. A retrospective if you will…later… I began to look at my work, and I did more pieces of work that I love than I was aware of. Tonight on a night when I think about life and it’s sometimes very sad turns, I will post portraits and figures, but on this page the three that mean the most. My son, my husband, my daughter. I love you all and thank you for your support and encouragement over the last year. A second post to follow with the rest.

Honestly, nothing seems important right now. I just want to say to my niece, “I love you. I wish it were in my power to make this all better for you. To change the last twenty-four hours. To give you whatever you need to heal. To give those two young men back to their families. I am praying for you all.”

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Our Place

No news tonight, no complaints, just some thoughts on an observation from this morning, and how it relates to the kind of business I want us to have.

I was getting dressed this morning and knowing it was going to be 90 degrees today, I looked in the back recesses of my closet. I pulled out a shirt I haven’t worn in years. It happens to be a shirt that Dan bought me in Paris. We actually didn’t spend a lot of money there. We aren’t souvenir type people. If anything we had hoped to come home with something from a Parisian flea market. We unfortunately went to the wrong one, unless of course we were millionaires. The furniture was incredibly beautiful, and incredibly expensive. On our next trip (Don’t know how, don’t know when, but it will happen!), we will do our research and make sure we know where we are going. What we did end up buying was a sweater because I am always cold, and in the same shop the shirt I am wearing. We also purchased a shadow puppet for Jessica at the Musee d’Orsay. We had seen the collection of Theatre du Chat Noir (forgive me if I’ve gotten that wrong), incredibly intricate shadow puppets. Jessica is a graphic artist and loves strong imagery. I knew she would appreciate the design. Imagine my surprise when we got back to our apartment and discovered the sticker on the back that said, “Made in Chicago, Illinois”. I kid you not. It struck me as so funny. I flew all the way to Paris to buy my daughter something from her hometown. On the next to last day I mentioned to Dan that I had been admiring a second shirt in the window of a clothing store near where we were staying.  We went to the shop and purchased the shirt. That night as I packed my suitcase I noticed the tag inside of my new shirt, “American Rag”, the same brand as my jeans from Macy’s.

The world is becoming so interconnected thanks to our unbelievable ability to communicate, but at the same time I feel like something is being lost. I traveled with Dan on and off on business trips through the Midwest. I loved all the little towns, the shops, the local flavor. I think it many ways it is being lost. Now no matter where you go there is a Target, a Walmart, a Home Depot, etc…even in Paris I ended up with items I probably could have gotten back home. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I love antique stores and flea markets so much. Pretty much everything is one of a kind.  I want our place to be the shop that everyone will think of as “their place”. I hope to make every person that walks through the door as welcome as they feel in my home. I want it to be a place, like my home, where people want to stay awhile and put their feet up, enjoy some really delicious food, a good cup of coffee, a good book, and some interesting conversation. (Now all I need is some money!)

 

As has happened before my art tonight is inspired by a photo I saw in the newspaper. I didn’t copy exactly what I saw, but definitely the feel of it with my own little twist. Something simple, I’m feeling nostalgic tonight.

 

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A Change In Attitude

A change in the atmosphere? I’m not sure what it is, but today was the first day in quite a while when I spent the day feeling hopeful. Still no news on the one job that may still be in the works, but we are pursuing some financial options for our business that look very promising. There is also another plan in the works. Dan and a friend have an idea for another business, something that could prove to be very successful if they can get it up and running. There are two things about it that I love, one is that it should bring money in quickly, the other is that it would allow Dan to continue to work with me on our business. It’s literally down to the wire around here. Something has to work!

I’m also surprised that I feel as good as I do because I’m exhausted. I was up early on Monday, didn’t make it to bed until 12:30 Tuesday morning, up at 6:15 a.m. yesterday. I should have slept well last night but I didn’t. I went to bed at around 10:30, slept for maybe twenty minutes and then…wide awake. I laid there for at least a half hour before giving up. I came downstairs and used the time to do research for our business. My mind is racing with ideas and possibility.

I actually have two projects tonight despite the fact that I’m falling off my feet. In a flash of brilliance (if I do say so myself) I came up with a quick project to turn two vintage plinths into book ends for our upcoming shop. We ran over to the office supply store and grabbed a couple of metal bookends, added some glue, and there they were. There is a little bit of the new metal showing underneath which I plan to address. I’ve been pricing out bookends and they are really expensive. I’m going to need a lot of bookends. This project inspired me to see what else I have that can serve the same purpose.

I’m craving oils once again, but unfortunately my respiratory system is still not up to par. I am only days away from the end of my year. It may just end up in watercolor. I did a small one tonight of one of my Giverny photos. Dan and I are both longing terribly to go back. We went to Paris for our twentieth wedding anniversary. We are a little over ten weeks away from our twenty-fifth. We had hoped this would be the year, but things change. It will certainly be a different anniversary this time around.

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First Steps

Today was a day to plan the future. We spent today on the hunt for a possible business location. It’s harder than you might imagine. There is a lot at stake here, and finding the right spot is essential. The entire process of opening a business is both exciting and terrifying. It is however a dream that I have had for many years. Now it is a dream that must become a reality if we want to find a way to earn a living. That may sound melodramatic but at our age people seem to view us as too old to be of any use. Dan has had his age come up repeatedly in interview after interview, and has been asked more than once if he can “keep up”. One of my friends has a husband just a few years older than us who has been out of work. He is a hardworking man who knows his business. He is also in excellent shape. He continues to play softball with his sons and their friends who are in their twenties. He recently had the opportunity to pick up some part-time work. The young man who was interviewing him for the job actually asked if at his age he could still climb a ladder. Trust me this man does not look his age, and looks in much better shape than your average thirty year old. My sister lost her job in December. She is one of the hardest working women I know, and she can run rings around people half her age. She was turned down for a job because the interviewer was concerned about how much longer she could work. She is only fifty-three. As we move forward in this business I will be going out of my way to look for the kind of mature responsible employees that my sister and our friend are. There’s a lot we can teach some younger workers about how things need to be done.

I have an upcycled project for tonight, but as so often happens I forget to take the “before” shots. (I guess I’m getting old.) An old cabinet door front that has been given new life as a shadow box. I left the door as it was found, just a little cleaning, and built a box to attach to the back. I gave it one shelf right in the middle. On the bottom I added another small vintage wooden shelf. I painted the interior in a dark maroon. The perfect place to display some of my pottery.

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Taking It Easy…

I had planned on taking it a little easy today after my marathon crafting and painting. It is also the first day of my self-imposed fume free week. Taking it easy wasn’t so easy. Actually it was forced on me and not in an enjoyable way. I woke at three o’clock this morning not feeling well. Something I ate last night did not agree with me. I’ve spent the majority of the day on the couch sleeping on and off. Only nine more days until I hit the one year mark on this project, and today like others before it when I didn’t feel well, I’m pushing through to get something up. Pen and ink is the obvious choice, no fumes and completely doable while sitting on the couch. I can’t promise much for this evening, but I promise something.

As for yesterday’s show, I think I’ve finally learned my lesson. I had a nice comment and some suggestions from a fellow blogger which I agree with. I know there must be a way to discover some local art shows. We do have a local art society. I checked it out a couple of years ago but then never followed through.  I think at the time I didn’t have enough confidence to put myself and my work out there. I feel like I’m ready to try again.

So here is my very little piece of art that I doodled for tonight.

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Oops!

At the show, and the fact that I have time to write tonight’s post should give you some inclination of how it’s going. Not a customer in sight, this despite the fact that I am between an exit door coffee/ice cream stand. I was assured that this was a successful show in the past, but not for me. Oh wait, I did make one sale, an adorable little girl came by and was looking longingly at one of my zombie ornaments so I sold it to her for a dollar. What can I say? I’m a sucker for kids. It’s really disappointing. We didn’t get to bed until nearly twelve thirty, got up at six fifteen, and have now been standing on my feet since about eight fifteen this morning, it’s currently 12:27 Pacific Coast time, two and a half hours left to go. I know I’m in the wrong place, if you were to look around me you would see quite frankly momentous amounts of crap. I’m talking manufactured merchandise, the toilet paper cover crafting that I abhor, and a lady trying to sell massages. An “art show” it’s not. I try not to judge the work of others, but I know that my work is heads above what I’m seeing. I always swear I’ll never do another one of these school shows, but I thought maybe I could add a little to the family finances. I’ve gotten several comments on my work, “Beautiful!”, “You’re so talented.”, etc., but no one seems to want to pay the price. My pieces are always marked less than they are worth (insert lack of self-esteem here), but still people don’t seem to want to buy them. It’s hard, I’m tired, I’ve worked really hard for nearly a month, and I just wanted to succeed a little. I need to learn from this, and discover where I belong. I need to find better shows. I’m not sure how, but I guess a little internet investigating is in order. As for today, I can’t wait to go home and get off my feet. Tomorrow everything will go on etsy. I probably should have done that in the first place.

It is much later in the day, 7:15 in fact.The earlier blog was posted by accident…oops, from Dan’s iPad. So the result of all my hard work? $68 Whoopee!!! After five hours of standing on my feet, weeks and weeks of hard work. We took my meager earning and went out to dinner. Our feet hurt, I was understandably upset, and we were hungry. No new art to post tonight but some I haven’t posted yet. Taking the night off. I deserve it.IMG_6551 IMG_6549 IMG_6548 IMG_6547 IMG_6546 IMG_6545 IMG_6544

Nothing to choose from right?