Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Mathematical Mystery of the Mid-Life Crisis

Am I the only person to question this??

I have too many thoughts; I just can't seem to HELP it. In addition to having too many thoughts, I wonder about too many things...including the ever popular "Mid-Life Crisis". I'm pretty sure it's a hoax, although I couldn't say precisely who perpetrated it initially (well, outside of the obvious - it has "Guy Thing" written all over it :o)

Personally, I think it's all about Denial (and I don't mean that river in Egypt). How else could people justify completely ridiculous and often irresponsible behavior when they are supposed to be old enough to know better? My husband always used to tease me that when I hit 40 he was going to trade me in on a newer model. Living in the south, these [highly delusional] plans morphed into thoughts and comments about doing a "twofer" (that's Southernese for a two-for-one deal, by the way). He thought it would be a grand plan to cash in his "old" 40 for two "new" 20's. Of course I felt obligated to point out that his pacemaker probably couldn't handle it (he doesn't actually have one but he IS, after all, several years older than I...)

Anyway, somewhere along the line it occurred to me that this thing known as the "Mid-Life Crisis" is an absolute mathematical impossibility. Think about it: in order to have a crisis in the MIDDLE of something, don't you have to know when the END is?? How can you possibly figure out where the middle is without prior knowledge of the end? I'll admit that the left side of my brain IS sadly lacking, but even I know there is something not quite right with this equation.

Maybe it was the cancer diagnosis at age 40 that prompted this line of thinking. The thought that if I didn't make it the full 5 years out (to the ripe old age of 45) it would mean I should have already HAD my midlife crisis at the age of 22. So did I miss it? Can I reschedule?

I think I'm going to have a mid-life crisis; they sound like fun. Maybe I'll just declare myself a late bloomer, go Nike, and "Just Do It". Yep, that's what I'm going to do, so I suppose I'd best get to it. I wonder how my husband would feel about a Harley Hog this Christmas. You know, come to think of it, he hasn't had HIS crisis either. Guess we might just end up with that twofer after all...

To read the other sections contained in my Squidoo lens ('cause yep, there's more :o) visit 3, 2, 1....AARRGH!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Frittering - Er, Make That Twittering Your Days Away...

To best understand where I'm coming from in this post, I highly recommend reading "Techno Twit and the Digital Suicide Attempt" posted in April of 2008 (It'll help - well, maybe :o) I really couldn't say why I did it; I shouldn't have (really) but I did. I signed up for Twitter. Why? I dunno - temporary insanity perhaps? Personally, I think the umpteen blogs, communities, cliques, groups, promotional sites, advertising sites, retail sites, networking sites, centers, albums, (yadda yadda yadda) I belong to should be more than enough to do already. AND let us not forget our very own twenty something page website (click here to go see it) I so stupidly opted to do FROM SCRATCH (to save money that we did not have) and now MAINTAIN (to save more money that we still don't have) for our not-for-profit farm. Attempting to promote the shops and our site, I signed up for something that looked helpful only to find there was another something to sign up for that came after it. It got to the point that I had to start jotting them down on a handydandy 3x5 index card to keep them all straight, then had to transfer it all to the front of a 4x6 index card when I ran out of room. Do I need to follow up with obvious? I am, of course, now on the back of that 4x6 index card and eyeballing some notebook paper (as said 4x6 is almost full on both sides :oP

I gotta wonder, though, about this latest craze: Twitter. The first thing you're asked upon joining is, "What are you doing right now?" Of course me being me said, "I'm typing this stupid sentence on Twitter..." Or words to that effect, anyway. It's a little on the voyeuristic side of life, isn't it? Why do you care what I am doing right now? Are you that bored? Why do I want to know what you are doing right now? What do I care? PLUS; if you want to be obnoxiously pickyabout it (and apparently I do), whatever I say I'm doing "right now" on Twitter can't be what I'm doing "right now" because "right now" the only thing I'm doing is typing on Twitter. So, now that I belong to this ridiculous group, does that make me an "official" Twit? When I type what I am doing now (but am no longer doing, about which you should not care) do I then become a Twitter-er?

I will very likely leave this site to go to that site to say what I am doing now (but am no longer; about which you probably will not care). Other than creating an immediate need for Tylenol, is there a point to this post? I seriously doubt it, but you know what? I don't care :o)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Forget the Interior...How About Exterior Design?

~♥~ Quickie Post ~♥~

Neuroses notwithstanding, it is the goal of every artist to produce something people will genuinely appreciate. I am totally artistically insecure, having been raised on the premise that art is not a "real" profession but a hobby, plus I've only recently emerged from the creative closet (er, so to speak).

I tend to assume the worst of ambiguous comments like, "Wow, that's really something!" or "My, how unusual!" Considering I have used those very words when confronted with something unexpected that requires immediate feedback (like maybe a nose ring or hot pink hair), it's not much of a stretch to think those phrases can be used against you in return.

So how can you tell when someone reaaalllly loves your stuff? When they purchase a piece of your work and use it for exterior design, of course:

Imagine my surprise when one of my customers, Shannon (who did tell me a whole bunch of times how much she loved this sketch), said she wanted to use "Mama N me" [shown left] for her tattoo [on the right]. It was done in memory of the baby girl she lost, and other than changing it to color I'd have to say her tattooist (is that even a word?) did a great job ~ wow! So, I'm thinking I can safely say that Shannon (for sure :o) likes my work...

If you'd like to visit Shannon's shop, she has some lovely pieces of handmade jewelry at:


Oh, and thanks for the "impossible to misconstrue" compliment Shannon; we who are ridiculously insecure salute you :o)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Aren't We Done YET??

A quick interim post (or status update, if you will :o)...

It's amazing just how complex the simple things can become. Like getting organized (and staying that way ~ for crying out loud!) It didn't sound like a monumental task for my summer, but I have decided that I am able to complicate even the simplest of projects (I apologize to those who are offended for using the "P" word; p-r-o-j-e-c-t) in an unbelievably short period of time.

Granted, taking a house that appears to have survived some sort of internalized natural disaster is a bit less than simple, HOWEVER, it has recently come to my attention that complicating projects can indeed be elevated to an art form (and I'm just so there :oP

I did manage to get some things done though, see?

and here...

I suppose I should confess to being hopelessly addicted to storage bins and tubs (They're just so handy). My father gleefully clipped and sent all of the funnies from Cathy (comics) when she was have her storage container crisis ~ the store ran out of her existing color of choice. Honestly, what's a girl to do? Of course you know she had a meltdown over it (Irving may not have understood, but I was totally empathetic :o)

We did get a "trashed" 5 drawer lateral filing cabinet gussied up from its industrial grey and rust finish (ick) to something a little easier on the eyes...

Considering there are approximately 2 square feet of open space in my office, it was a little dicey trying to get a picture (although I think you can get the gist :o) Inexpensive picture frames were used to cover the mangled and missing label holders on the front of the drawers. Turned out pretty neat, didn't it? My daughter gets the credit for the initial sanding ~ she worked like a Trojan on it!

Time to get ready for church, and then maybe I'll see if I can put a few more things in some bins this afternoon. if I'm now in my early 40's, maybe by the time I actually get it all put in bins, organized, and labeled it'll be ready for the move to my new home in Geriatricville, USA. Possibly even in time for my 96th birthday.

... or not...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

5 - Creating OOAK (Order Out of Alarming Kaos :o)

My house scares me. Not because it's evil or eerie or even somewhat eclectic (which it is :o) but because it has been invaded. By what, you ask? Well I'll tell you ~ my house has almost completely disappeared under a deluge of craft supplies and vintage items that span decades (literally). First there was my own personal stash (which was already a teeensy bit *cough, cough* out of hand), THEN there were the boxes and bins belonging to my grandmother (Nana), the ornaments made by my great grandmother (her mother) and so on.

Some of it has been fabulous fun to sift through, like the family photographs dating all the way back to the 1860s (translation: watch for a blog post on my heritage scrapbook album, I'm so into it :o) There was the vintage jewelry she had stuck in a seriously tacky ceramic container; Trifari pieces that were drop dead gorgeous and some other amazing bits and baubles (hours of fun trying on and bringing back some fond memories). These fabulous finds were mixed in, mind you, with some cheesy plastic jewelry and dead tape (eew).

Then there were the things that were not so fun. Like the piles and piles of knitted "squares" that were NOT square (or any other easily identifiable shape; Nana had Alzheimer's). She made them by the dozens ~ no two the same size or shape - complete with holes and dropped stitches - impossible to use for anything. But the thing that really hurt my feelings was "The Tree". I've unofficially dubbed it, "Lamenting Loretta: A Felonious Folly" as this is nothing short of criminal...
Needless to say, I will be dissecting this and remaking some of the pieces into vintage jewelry for my shop (after I pick out the "keepers", of course ;o)

To top it all off are the evil dust bunnies on crack that I seem to be chasing
everywhere. Have you seen them? They look something like this...
Note the small beady eyes which have no problem spotting clean surfaces in dire need of a "dustover". For the past several years I have been battling them to no avail. Craft supplies and everything else had to be kept in boxes, storage containers or bags to prevent a light coating of dust from rapidly accumulating. It was a constant battle to keep up with that seemed to be getting worse, and I fought it bravely right up until the cancer. Now, I'll be the first one to admit I don't like to clean. While I may derive that certain satisfaction that comes with a job well done, I would be lying through my teeth if I said I liked it. Along with a cancer diagnosis comes surgery (or in my case surgeries), chemotherapy and a whole host of other raindrops on your parade that cause a lot of things to fall by the wayside (cleaning being one of the first casualties in the new war).

Why am I off on a tangent telling everyone about my dust? Because there's a moral to this story. A number of years ago, we remodeled the house and added a much larger central heat and air unit. In addition to some serious square footage, we added a half roof on the back side which created a nice big roof instead of several smaller ones. We also ended up with some storage space for "outdoor safe" items. Had it not been for the air handler going out a couple of months ago we would never have discovered that the people who installed the very expensive, brand new unit forgot to seal off the air intake. What does this mean? Well, instead of pulling air from the house, it was pulling air from the attic between the roofs. Nice hot, stuffy, dusty, gritty air which burned up the coils in the old handler and cost us around $1,300 to replace. Of course the man that owned the business that did the installation of our new A/C retired quite awhile back...probably to some remote island in Bimini. The moral? Check behind your contractors (which we did) even if they come highly recommended (which he was), and if you haven't a clue what to check find someone who does (that's the part we missed).
Anyway, if I can put in about 8 to 10 hours a day, I probably have a mere 6 - 8 months of cleaning and destashing left do. I'm sure if I hurry though, I can Git 'er Done (as they say). Hmmm, you know I don't remember seeing that big box before, maybe I'll just take a minute and see what all's in there...

Friday, May 9, 2008

4 - Finding That Ever Elusive Happy Medium...

I think the first issue here would be to determine precisely what that statement means. Now that I have allowed my creative self to emerge, I probably need to strike some sort of balance between work, creativity and family, don't I? Of course being a perpetual smart-alec and sitting here reading the words "happy medium" conjure some entertaining definitions to go along with the meaning of that particular phrase. It could be a perky palm reader, for example; or - since it's relevant - I can declare a pencil as my personal "happy medium". Well, using it does make me smile most of the time....

Is it just me or does everyone assume that they're the only one with a specific problem? I logged on to Ning the day before yesterday to see that another FAM had posted in the forums asking for advice on what to do when your husband starts complaining about your involvement in your crafts/time spent on Etsy. You're kidding! I thought that was just MY husband doing that (see what I mean?) Of course I was morally obligated to respond with a bit of cheer:

See me scooch over to make room for you in this here boat (because guess what? we're in the same one!!) I also work in a school system, so soon to be summer (thank goodness!) and I too find myself "stuffing" my creativity anywhere I can fit it. To make you feel a tiny bit better, my DH was laid off about 2 months ago and is temporarily ALWAYS home :o he's now beginning to grumble about Etsy himself....

So even though it's not a solution exactly, I vote we start right here -
"Support group, party of two"
Of course we should definitely order something from A Sugar Affair's shop (and it's gotta have chocolate in it) to have at our first official meeting...

What really surprised me was the number of posts after that - there are a whole bunch of us! It's nice to know that you're not the only one having technical difficulties with a specific issue; of course no one had a solution to her dilemma as they were all suffering from the same problem, but it sure is nice to know you're not alone. And what is it that you do when you have a group of people all suffering from the same issue? Well this was my suggestion:

As unofficial acronym queen, I vote we just get a yacht, load up on the chocolate, and - because this is starting to sound more and more like a support group meeting, I'll make a motion we go for a "team" anonymous group and call ourselves E.A.T. (Etsian's Anonymous Team) which not only meshes with Etsy, it covers the chocolate issue too....hahahahha :o)

Interestingly enough, in the past few days since that little group discussion of ours I somehow managed to become so completely eclipsed by my own creative monster that I pretty much ignored my poor family altogether. Hmmmm, I wonder if I'll find that balance someday - probably not. Although I have pretty much worn myself out, I did produce some nice additions for my shop:

First up were the magnets. Why? I don't know; apparently Sebastian didn't have a clue either, but we had a grand time :o) I've only posted one set thus far, but of course made lots more (I found an empty spot on my dining room table...tsk-tsk, can't have that, now, can we?)
Okay, empty spot on dining room table - check! Now then, what was I supposed to be doing again?? Hmmm.....

Oh, I know! I can't believe I forgot about them. I wanted to finish some of those Pink Ribbon ACEOs I was working on for Breast Cancer survivors/supporters/ survivors in training (a.k.a. those till in treatment). So I did some of those too....

My very good friend Suzanne was having a terrible week at work, so I thought it might cheer her up to have a sketch of one of her photographs. I chose a gorgeous shot she took of a heron (wouldn't expect something with such gangly legs to be so regal looking, would you?) I think it's safe to say I surprised both of us with this pen and ink :o)

Oh, wow! I just remembered that the pink ribbon charms had come in and I wanted to make some BC bracelets...

and of course in addition to these four are a number of others (all different), and then there were the earrings...

Oh yeah, the "Siblings" sketch I was working on; slipped my mind. A pair of African Antelope that I finally finished. They looked so cute curled up together in their little hidey hole, I just had to draw them. The common name for these little guys is "dik dik", so of course I named them "Dik Dik and Jane Jane" (haha :o) I really thought that when I got through with these two I could keel over somewhere, but I remembered those charcoal pencils I just got...

I dubbed this one "On the Line" as this little fellow was indeed sitting inside a pair of jeans on a clothesline. There was some additional relevance in there, however; my creative benders this week seemed to have crossed the line. Maybe one of these days I'll be struck with brilliance and actually find that ever elusive balance. I'll be sure to let you know if I do. In the meantime however, I have a custom order for some graduation gifts I'm supposed to deliver tomorrow. I believe it was 7 of my origami "stacks. Funny, I'd forgotten about that....

Monday, April 28, 2008

3 - Techno-Twit and the Digital Suicide Attempt

Okay, kill me now please - it's taking too long doing it digitally. I was most of the way "around the bend" when I started the Etsy stuff and I have now discovered precisely what lies waiting for you around said bend. It's a cliff. A nice, steep, don't look down cliff that drops off into a technological void from which there is no escape. Where did all this stuff come from???? And why the heck does it seem like everybody has known about it forever? We're talking absolute old hat here, and I'm wearing earmuffs.

I've learned to download, upload, and reload but seem to identify best with overload. I've googled then goggled at the deluge of information I'm expected to wade through (385 billion matches for your request...Yikes!) I've Flickr'd (mostly like a dim bulb); Stumbled then fumbled and totally bumbled; I've blogged (hey! I get that one, it's like writing :o) and now it would seem I Squidoo. Do you? Let's not forget Facebook; signed up? Yes. Figured out? NO. I'm set up on Ning, linked to a ring, even learned how to ping (if I need to test my connection).

So why exactly am I DOING all this stuff? Because it's supposed to help me promote my Etsy shop and increase my traffic. Of course what I have actually managed to get up and running is basically invisible. Um, it just me or is advertising your shop on an invisible billboard pretty much an exercise in futility? Maybe one day I'll get it all figured out (you know, on the free laptop they give you to use at the nursing home). Maybe.

I know there are FAMs and fellow Etsians out there in cyberspace at these places, as a few have actually found me on Blogger and Flickr - of course I haven't actually figured out how to find anyone else yet. I'm not even sure where I am exactly. Don't worry though, cyberself discovery is on my list of things to do (it's the one in 2 point type on that neverending roll of Charmin). I think I'll do that now, actually. Right after I check out something called "Indiepublic". I wonder what that's all about...

Friday, April 25, 2008

1 - My Camio -or- Jen's Creative ADHD Monster is Out!

My creative monster is officially out of the closet. It wasn't my fault, well not really. In a manner of speaking, the blame rests entirely on the fact that I've had cancer. You see I was an art major in high school and pencil sketches were "my thing". Of course such things were only for fun and not a responsible choice for a career (starving artists and all that). So when I finally became that responsible grownup, I closed the door on my creative self, and although I've done some crafting over the years I had it completely under control.

I'm sure you noticed the tense there; was, as in past, as in not anymore. I work in a school system. Generally this allows some time during the summer to learn something new to make which was then used for gifts (my justification, if you will). Over the years, I've learned to crochet, make candles, do calligraphy, make jewelry, scrapbook, and make candy, among other things. Everything was going well, right up until last year that is.

I had reconstructive surgery last summer. Being fairly young at diagnosis (40) and active, I opted for reconstructive microsurgery using straight tissue (so I could keep my muscles where they belonged, thank you very much). The only downside to this decision was a much longer recovery time, which meant I would definitely need something to do...

I had seen some craft pages on the Internet dedicated to the art of teabag folding a.k.a. kaleidoscope origami and was intrigued. This seemed an excellent way to pass the time during my recovery and would mesh well with my other crafts as gifts so I decided to give it a try. The closest I can come to a coherent explanation (and specific details remain unclear to this day) would be to offer this analogy; it was like cracking open the door to the closet holding my creative monster - just a little. The results were most unexpected; the door blew completely off the hinges, squashed me flat, and now my creative monster is on the loose and running amok all over everywhere.

I am still me (I think), but now possessed by creative benders that often strike without warning and trigger a mad scientist mode where I run around muttering to myself incessantly. I'm pretty sure I'm scaring my family. I don't understand what happened, not really (it was kind of sudden). It seems that I am now almost constantly overwhelmed with the need to create things, all OVER the place. I've even started sketching again, and I was scared - really scared to try. It had been so long, what if I lost it? What if I just couldn't do it anymore? But cancer has made me realize that life can be much shorter than we expect, so don't waste any of it - ever.

So here I am, my creative monster pinging off the walls and the results of my benders all but piled to the ceiling. My current thought? If I create anything else we're going to have to MOVE :o)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

2 - Wysi-whatsit????

So now that I have all this stuff, what am I going to do with it? I started selling some cards informally. Not much, just a few here and there. The nice thing about the cards I make is that they're acid free. This means that not only do you get a cool card, but if you scrap you get a nifty embellishment for your page. Selling a few cards here and there was nice, but I needed to sell more. Even with good insurance the medical bills were starting to get pretty scary, so I added some candles to my "wares". Next came the jewelry, then the origami framed art.

Wysiwigs (pronounced "whizzywigs") is an acronym. It's the name I've given to my Etsy shop. I just love acronyms; I make them up on a regular basis purely for my own entertainment. This one sprang from "wysiwyg" which is geekspeak for "what you see is what you get". In the event that someone had already staked a legal claim to the original acronym (and because I really don't think I'd enjoy prison), I used that one for a springboard of sorts and coined my own. It stands for "what you see is what I've got smile : )". At the time, I'd never even HEARD of Etsy - I was simply under pressure to come up with a shop name on the fly at a craft fair. What can I say? Shall I just plead sleep deprivation?

Turns out that Wysiwigs was the perfect name for my shop. I started using origami to make my kaleidoscope cards, piddled with more origami in some vintage artwork, then started folding all kinds of other things. My Etsybuddy encouraged me to put some of my existing sketches in my inventory as cards and prints. Then I went completely off the deep end and added some brand new sketches. I didn't realize how much I missed my sketchbook until I picked it up again. Go figure. Truth be told, I was actually afraid to pick it up again. What if I'd lost it? What if I couldn't draw anymore? While I'm not expecting to go into a hall of fame anytime soon, I think it's safe to say the Lord blessed me with some talent. Maybe that's why I was so afraid I'd lost it; because I was wasting it, wasn't I? But I picked it up again anyway and I think it's still there. A little rusty and dusty perhaps, but there. Maybe I'll just let you decide for yourself. Then again, I might get my feelings hurt that way, so maybe you shouldn't tell me :o)

Etsy, in case you're not familiar, is a wonderful place to shop. It's basically a site for "all things handmade", although they do offer some supplies to make things as well. Even if you're not interested in my shop, it's definitely worth a look. Hmmm... fabulous shops, no lines AND polite people - I bet I know where I'll be doing my Christmas shopping this year!

Guess that's pretty much it for now, but if you're still rolling your eyes over Wysiwigs, then perhaps this is not a good time to tell you I sell Fridgiewidgets in my shop...