Saturday, December 31, 2011

I See You, Twenty-Twelve!

Here we GO!
The clock is ticking....

Right now it's the wee, little, pre-dawn hours of the last day of 2011.

And in my head I'm a million miles away in my imagination, planning Big Things for the New Year. Big Creative Things that are all MINE.

Big Things that involve stories and new products and more art and hopefully a little travel. Maybe some surprise endings and vague destinations. Perhaps even some (gasp!) COLOR. And definitely some stepping-outside-of-one's-comfort-zone.

These plans might just require an alias. And the addition of another personality or two. Or three. And maybe some mismatched stockings. And definitely a hat.... And an amulet.

And maybe even a traveling companion. Like a fox. Or an owl. Or a fox that IS an owl. One that wears a top hat and speaks in riddles and might be a foe or a friend or a faux friend or a fey friend, and only needs glasses when he reads....

Or she reads?

Who knows? Who wants to know? I want to know. I can't wait to know.

So here's to Big Plans. Here's to discovery!

Here's to the New Be-a-YOU-tiful Year.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The 'T' Word

I'm writing from the hip today, just throwing stuff out here without too much thought or edits or even the benefit of Spellchek (sorry!). Because it's that time of year again. The one where 'time' is the operative word....

Do you do this?: In my head I envision late autumn / early winter as 'that period during which one holes up and cocoons.' I see myself in my comfy chair, curled in lamplight, with a purring kitten on my lap and a book or project or drawing pad in my hands. And snowflakes dancing outside my windows, of course, turning my garden into a wedding cake. And the whole big beautiful scene wrapped in all the time in the world.

No surprise: The reality of it is just the opposite. (Sigh.)

I'm not alone in this, I know. It's chaos where you are, too, I'm sure. Less than a week until the holiday and I've only just begun to shop. Any baking has yet to occur. There's no snow (yet) and little is expected before the Big Day. The stomach bug has infiltrated our ranks and is gleefully running amok, so in addition to being overwhelmed and sleep deprived I'm now a freakin' germaphobe, washing my hands until they're raw. I don't have time for this.

Not surprisingly, my cocoonish fantasy has gone by the wayside to be replaced by January in all its Snowpocalyptic glory. In my head I see drifts up to the windowsills, a pantry stocked with soup ingredients, that warm and lamplit corner by the faux fireplace where the kitten is already curled and sleeping. And the holiday all cleaned up and tucked in for another year.


What am I doing, wishing the holiday the heck away?!

Let's start again. Ahem.

Here's me now attempting to enjoy the moment while I can and not thinking about germs or gifts that need buying. And one way for me to do this is to focus on wishing YOU the very best of holidays.

SO: I wish for you good health. Safe travels. Good moods and warm smiles. Enough to eat and a safe place to sleep. Sincere hugs. Family and friends to surround you, laughter and memories to cheer and comfort you. A cup of Christmas tea in that Cup of Christmas Tea cup (you know you've got one; we all do). A kitten on your lap or a dog at your feet or both. A good book to unwrap and enjoy at your leisure, one that warms your heart and whisks you away. Eggnog. Layers. Something handmade to keep your neck warm. Money enough to cover your needs. Courteous faces in the check-out line. Eggnog. Preferably with a little brandy in it. Some big-as-sequins snowflakes to put you in the holiday spirit, and some snowshadows to add to the effect (they're blue, did you know that?). Maybe an ethereal soundtrack wafting in the background, like lutes and woodwinds playing The Coventry Carol (oooooh, one of my FAVES). Pine-scented greenery. Red hollyberries. "Five gol-den rings!" Mistletoe. SIMPLICITY. Lots and lots of rest! All the blessings of the heavens. "And a par-tridge in a pear treeeeeee!"

There. Now I feel better. Thank you!

And may you have a most magical holiday, my friend.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Body Clock Conundrum

Nighttime is always the right time for me!
It's past noon and my dishes are still unwashed. And they're not the breakfast dishes either, they're last night's supper dishes. Breakfast for me hasn't happened yet, and it may not happen until far past lunchtime. My nights are my days. I'm messed the heck up....
There's no proof, but I'm fairly confident I was a night owl in utero. I know I was as a teen. And I have been ever since. But the world doesn't operate on Night Owl time, and so I've been trying to recalculate my body clock almost all my working adult life. And all it takes is a long afternoon nap to set it back, or a weekend spent in bed with a cold.
The sad thing is that I work best on Night Owl time. I'm clear-headed and full of energy then and can multitask and actually accomplish something. But when I fight it, I go into zombie mode. Focusing is a problem. I shamble from one project to the next before ignoring all in search of coffee.
I get that I don't have a timeclock to punch at 6 a.m. any longer, and so succumbing to my body's demands should be a no-brainer. In my head it works out perfectly: No strangers at my door or telemarketer phone calls, no neighbors' dogs barking or kids screaming loud enough to be heard through the walls, no sounds of traffic. No TV shows beckon. No yardwork can be done in the night. If I need groceries, the nearby all-night Cub is pretty empty in the wee hours, as is the 24-hour Walgreens or the convenience store on the corner. I can start a project and get a couple hours invested in it before something demands me, before pets need feeding or phones need answering. I don't have to worry that someone I know will drop in unexpectedly and catch me up to my neck in a mess and without my hair combed or my socks matching or my face 'on'.
As awesome as that sounds (....and oh, it DOES sound awesome!....), recalculating my body clock just makes more sense to me. Working nights would put the screws to my chances of babysitting or spending time with James. There'd be no 'let's meet for coffee' or phone calls starting with, "Mom, y'got a minute to talk?" Life would chug along as I slept....
So I guess the trade-off is that the world gets half of me, the half that isn't All Here At Any Given Moment because it's not quite awake yet. And now that I know this, I can look around myself and honestly say, "Hmmm. This explains a lot."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Two Things....

The pic that is rapidly becoming my Forever Logo. :)
I love my website. Love love love it! :)

James made it for me. I love it especially because James made it for me. He slaved over it, I'm not kidding. He took time away from doing his Own Thing to put it all together and I couldn't be happier with it.

Best thing about it? -- it's the easiest site in the world for a potential customer to find and use. There are no bells or whistles, no freaky Flash stuff to fight with, no annoying music, no little fluttering fairy icons that follow the cursor around. My own parents can go there and navigate it, as can my 'dial-up' friends. It's just a dream.

However, it could use all sorts of updates, MAJOR ones, not the least of which are a shopping cart and links to new work. And I have little idea how to do those things for myself.

James is the Computer Guy around here. He's done programming for as long as I've known him, and he still spends much of his work week glued to a monitor developing company software. I pretty much have to wait for him to find a convenient time to work on my site, but the last thing I want him to do when he comes home in the evening is sit down to yet another monitor and do yet more programming.

And in recent years James has begun doing creative work himself and has constructed his own site to maintain. No surprise, but it could use updates as well, and if any site deserves his attention more, it's his.

No, I take that back. BOTH our sites deserve his attention! But the guy's Free Time is golden; I'd really rather he spend it creating his art and promoting it instead of being my on-call developer.

So with that in mind I just keep telling myself that it wouldn't hurt me to learn how to maintain my own dang site my own dang self. James has taught me a few things, of course, because I asked him to. But it's not easy. In fact, it's close to impossible for me. So I still manage to let things slide until I can guilt James into doing them for me.

I'm still waiting for him to do them for me.

And the longer I wait, the less I care if the updates are ever made. In my head they make little difference, as in all the years my site's been up and running, I've probably only ever made half a dozen sales from it. Granted, I'd make MORE if it was current, perhaps. But still.... A vicious cycle.

Anyway, this all leads me to Now. And Etsy.

After days (okay, weeks) of tweaking, hairpulling, information overload, and -- I'll admit it -- FUN, Mayfaire's little Etsy shop is finally open for business.

And I did it all myself. I did it!

A million digital photos were taken, I swear. And I'd bet two million hours were spent agonizing over whether to crop them tighter or even use them at all. And pressing the 'Publish' button was enough to give me a hot flash, I was that nervous about it.

But then the stats showed me that my shop got an actual 'view.' Then two, then three, then a hundred! And before long I even got a sale. I kid you not, I did the Happy Dance all the way to the Post Office!

Who knows whether or not all the work I did to get the shop up and running will ever pay off for me. All I know is, when it comes to updating myself and my work online, I can DO this. And I don't need James to do it FOR me.

And that makes all the difference.

P.S. Shop my Etsy store at It will carry those products that I don't normally post to my website. You can also visit my website at Thank you. :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cyber Monday Grand Opening!

You've heard of Stratford-upon-Avon? Whimsey-on-Why? Now there's Mayfaire-on-Etsy!

Yes, after all that work and hair pulling and photo tweaking and -- I'll admit it -- FUN, Mayfaire's Etsy shop is finally open. No, it's not called Mayfaire-on-Etsy (although that is dang cute), but it IS called MayfaireArt and you can find it there (check out my sidebar for the slide-show gadget) or by clicking here.

I'm still in the process of linking new work, but as of this post you'll find at least a handful of resin art pins, pendants, and earrings as well as colorbooks and Kris-Moose books currently being offered. PLEASE go there and look around, 'k? It warms my little artist heart to know that you've taken a moment to check out my work.

And in the event that you like something you see there, please know that free shipping is available through Cyber Monday at least, and I'm offering blog readers (old and new and otherwise*) a 10% discount. Just use the coupon code CYBER2011 during the checkout process.



*Your friends and family might like to be in on the secret, too, so please share!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Black Friday, Small Biz Saturday, Cyber Monday -- Oh My!

I don't know about you, but I can't imagine setting foot outside my door this weekend for any reason. I did that once by mistake: I ran an errand for something absolutely trivial on Black Friday one year and thought I'd either lose my mind or commit a murder. NEVER AGAIN.

So as soon as the dishes are put away after Thanksgiving dinner, this girl is going to either curl up with a book, hide in front of a movie somewhere, or shop online perhaps. And I hope you'll do the same.

But be sure to shop small, 'k? There are a lot of creative people out there who are trying to make a living in this sad economy. You'll find many of them on Etsy. And here are a few of my Etsy faves (who just so happen to be readers right here on this blog -- get to know them, they're wonderful people!):

Check out Everyday Friends Art for quaint and colorful polymer clay houses that fit in the palm of your hand! You'll find other fun stuff there, too, like old-fashioned photo-style greeting cards, polymer ornaments, and buttons sporting the image of Her Maj.

StoneWing Designs offers exquisite handcrafted jewelry using semi-precious stones and other quality materials.

Handmade, affordable earrings for under five bucks?? Jeweled Fibers. Nothing else needs saying.

How about the rest of you? Got an Etsy shoppe? I've been burning the candle at both ends and the middle trying to set one up for myself -- it's been fun but I can certainly appreciate the amount of work you've done to get yours up and running!

So why not introduce yourself and your work by sharing directions to your shoppe here in the comments section so that we can all visit you this weekend from the comfort of our nice warm unchaotic homes (not to mention our nice warm super-comfy jammies).

And you're right, I did NOT point you to ME on Etsy. You can find me easily enough. And besides -- I'm a complete Newbie. These folks know what they're doing and are amazing at it.

So check them out, 'k?

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is tomorrow already; can you believe it?? My month of November -- which looks in my head like one long leisurely span of time in which to cocoon and be creative (ha!) -- is almost over, and the holiday crazies are waiting in the wings, tapping their feet.

So before the hours get any crazier for me (and you!), I'd like to honor the holiday by taking this opportunity to list some stuff for which I'm thankful:

1. Twenty-four whole hours in a day. I must remember to never take them for granted.

2. Good health, strong limbs, decent mental faculties, and some experience under my belt. I like the age I am! And fifty-five years are more than many are blessed with.

3. A guy in my life who defies description. I could write all day about why I'm so thankful for him and my list wouldn't be finished.

4. My girls all grown-up and uber-responsible, with good men in their lives and children arriving.

5. A family that is healthy, happy, and independent, one that can hold each other close and yet let go....

6. Friends who love me unconditionally, who willingly put up with my nonsense and still like me when I don't like my own self.

7. Pets past, present, and future. I can't live without animals in my life. I just can't.

8. All the wonderful books I've read, music I've heard, and art I've seen that opened my mind and made me think, moved me, or just plain entertained me, and the gifted folks who created them.

9. Our veterans and active duty servicemen/women. 'Nuff sed.

10. A generous Earth. I give her a seed and she thanks me with a harvest.

11. A Higher Power that doesn't mind that the two of us commune together over a sunrise or under the stars instead of in a church. In fact, S/He prefers it that way.

And, of course,

13. YOU.

Have the best of holidays, OK? And give yourself a big warm hug for me. I am truly thankful that you're here, my friend.



Monday, November 21, 2011

Etsy or Bust!

An example of my resin work
My 'flat art' (meaning two-dimensional work that can be framed and hung on a wall) is really what I'm known for.
I was originally juried into the MN Renaissance Festival with it over 25 years ago and, as a result, it's technically the only kind of work I can sell there. My customers know me. They expect to see drawings and prints. And at the moment Fest is the only place that I really show my work. 
However, in recent years I've begun playing more with materials other than papers and pencils. And even though I've since been granted permission to do so, the little oddments I'm making are ones that are difficult (for me, anyway) to sell at Fest. And, to make matters worse, Technical UN-savvy Me has yet to figure out how to sell them from my website.
SO. I'm thinking they might just be ideal for an Etsy shop.... 
The idea intrigues me.
Fest is my only show now for a reason. I'm naturally reclusive, for one thing. I love my weekends and dislike venturing too far from home. And, I'll just say it: I'm older now and just not fond of the travel and set-up and tear-down (not to mention the expense) that goes with doing a show.

Over the years, in an effort to get my work out there and still not wander too far from my cocoon, I've occasionally thought of opening a little local storefront. Sounds quaint and fun at first glance, but then we're talking again of uber-busy weekends and the worries of covering expenses. :(

So how much better is the idea of a virtual storefront? A virtual art show? Where the lease/entry fee is minimal, the customers all warm and cozy shopping in the comfort of their own homes, the upkeep and maintenance and utilities all non-existent? And Happy-Artist Me behind my virtual counter in my comfy clothes?? (Awesome!)

Granted, 'if you build it, they will come' doesn't apply. Because they won't, necessarily. As of right now, Etsy has a million bazillion quillion virtual stores all offering amazing products. Being noticed at all will be a dang miracle! But no one ever said this will work as well for me as it does in my imagination....

But it can't hurt to try!

Anyway, I've done boatloads of reading since I saved a spot on Etsy for myself a year ago, and I keep revisiting my 'shop space' there and sticking a tentative toe in the water. But now seems like the time to get down and dirty with it. My Eldest has put the pressure on, for one thing, by suggesting an Etsy shop in the first place and daring me to get one up and running. She offered to do all the set-up for me recently when she was home for a bit, but I disliked the idea of putting her to work on her visit.

Plus, I wanted to show her that I can DO this. (Because I CAN!)

So since her departure a week or so ago I've been knee deep in all things Etsy. Black Friday/Cyber Monday are big incentives. I've taken a crapzillion digital photos of my creations. I've written and rewritten copy until it no longer makes sense to me. I've researched shipping charges and Paypal accounts and packaging ideas, blahddy blah. It's all been a baptism by fire, but I think I'm making some teensy progress.

Or maybe I'm just facing the right direction!

But that's progress, too, right?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

X's and O's

This is for you
Guess what??

Yesterday's post generated a comment -- Woohoo!

It generated two, actually, as another friend of mine emailed me yesterday that she'd tried to introduce herself here in the comments section, as I'd requested, but was unable to do so.

I think I understand why it was difficult: These things don't necessarily make it easy for us to communicate with, do they? I can remember in the past wanting to comment on so many blogposts on so many blogsites but discovering that in order to do so I had to jump through hoops, create an account, choose an avatar, blahddy blah.... And then there's the part about one's comment having to be moderated first before the blog itself allows it to even appear. Yeah, there's that....

(Of course, there's also the possibility that I've set up this site so that commenting on it is a problem. Yeah, there's that, too....)

BUT -- Yesterday's post and the response it generated tells me that I still have readers -- HUZZAH!

a'poier,elapod; voiemrint eomvpoke,ao;!!! (That was the happy keyboard dance right there -- :D)

Knowing that I haven't lost every single one of you buoys my heart and keeps me from having to write to my own self. Although you know I would do that, don't you? And I'd comment on my own posts, too, to keep from looking completely ridiculous. Because I'm shameless that way.

So here's a great big beautiful THANK YOU.

To you. Yes, YOU.

And may this be the start of a nice communication.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's All About YOU

This is for you: Mwah!
Dear You,

I don't want the Maily to be just about me. I want you to have a voice here, too. After all, I think you're much more interesting. :)

So what I'd like you to do -- if you're still out there somewhere and haven't totally given up on me -- is introduce yourself here in the comments section. Tell me about yourself, even if you're already my friend or family member in real life. (And just so you know, I'll bug you every week on Tell-Me-Something-About-Yourself Tuesday until you succumb, so be prepared!)

And if you happen to have a biz, website, blog, Etsy shop, and/or facebook fan page, PLEASE share the link(s) with me here so I can enjoy and promote your work, 'k?

And if you do this for me I will heart you forever.

Here's to you, my friend!

x x and o,

Monday, November 14, 2011

Miss Me?

Even my coffee's happy to be back!
Wow, right?

Over a whole dang month without a post! I just hope you're still out there and haven't completely forgotten me.... 

My excuse for not posting is that things have been Yikesville here ever since Festival ended at the beginning of October, and the older I get the less I'm able to deal, apparently.

Don't worry, mostly good stuff happened: Among them a beautiful new grandson, a long visit from my Eldest from California, Halloween (my favorite holiday!), and the emotional punch that comes with having a milestone birthday, to name just a few.

(And there was some not-so-good stuff in there, too, but everything's fine now so we won't even go there.)

And, of course, in all the activity and excitement I managed to come down with The Plague -- surprise! It was just a serious cold, really, but it certainly felt like the plague, and this aggravated an existing condition that was already compromised from the stress of all that is Fest, after which I required some serious downtime. And when I'm away from blogging/writing for longer than a couple days it's really easy for me to lose the routine. Oops.

Anyway, I want to get back to it because... I MISS WRITING TO YOU! (I really do! Ask anybody!) And I'm grateful for you and oh so happy to be here again. Just wanted you to know that.

SO -- I raise my smiley-face cup of Joe to you and say, "Here we go!"

x x and o,


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fire, Fear, and the Final Weekend of Fest

The 2011 Fest season is over. The feeling is bittersweet. By the time the Final Weekend comes around every year I'm more than ready for it: My product is dusty, my feet are tired from standing all day, I want my weekends back.

This year brought an especially jarring and traumatic Final Weekend. I'd spent long hours preparing for Fest's final three days, and James and I had no sooner fallen asleep Thursday night (correction: Friday morning) than we were awakened by a neighbor bursting into the shop to warn us of a fire.

It's important to note here that the Fest grounds are drier than newsprint -- this year especially -- and many of the buildings there are old and tinderboxy. As far as I know, few people sleep on site during the show season as permission to stay overnight in the shops is given only to those booth owners who jump through hoops and reconstruct their buildings to Code (at great personal expense). I have no idea who was responsible for calling 911, but if there hadn't been someone already on site at the time, the aforementioned fire would not have been called in as quickly nor contained as rapidly as it was. Just in the first few minutes that I was aware of it, I watched in horror as it roared through a whole line of buildings....

My initial awake moments were nothing but confusion and chaos. I could hear the roar of the flames and feel the heat, even though the fire was still at some distance away. Crews had yet to arrive; I could hear their sirens. But even though I knew help was on its way, I thought for sure we'd die -- to me, the fire was just that out of control. In stunned silence I watched it rage and roar and reach for the stars. Tree branches crackled in the updraft, picnic tables bubbled from the heat. The noise was deafening.

After our initial shock, James and I took off in opposite directions, banging on shop doors and rousting our neighbors. Then I hunkered back in fascination as fire trucks sped on site and men in silhouette fought the flames. (Above is video I took after crews arrived. As awful as it looks, it doesn't begin to capture what things were really like....)

When all was contained, we shopkeepers were escorted away together in our cloaks and pajamas, and I stood at C-Gate in stunned silence, wrapped in every layer I could find yet still cold and shivering.... All around me, participants were filing up from the campgrounds. Many were in costume and being directed to the Front Gate where patrons were already waiting for the show to begin. They'd at least be entertained there while crews secured the burn area before opening the gates.

Miraculously, no one was hurt. And all had been speedily contained. WE WERE SO LUCKY and knew it; things could've been far worse, especially if fire had occurred the day before when winds were high. Or if the morning's flames had reached the giant propane tank that stands just yards from the burn site. 

James and I learned that our entire neighborhood would be roped off for the day due to the investigation. And upon learning that we wouldn't personally be opening for business, the two of us took the opportunity to actually see the Show, albeit in a zombified, sleep-deprived manner. And later that evening when we were given the OK to return to our shops, the two of us walked through the campground on our way back from the parking lot and encountered a troupe of fire dancers rehearsing their performance, and I immediately felt a rush of adrenaline as I watched them jump through the flames.... The sight, the sound, the smell, the heat, the bodies in silhouette -- it all combined to give me nightmares. And I woke the next morning convinced that it was all happening again, like some crazy version of Groundhog's Day.

The remaining two days of that final 3-day weekend went by in a blur. Folks came 'round to say their goodbyes. Talk was all about the fire. Just relaying the news made me remember it all over again, and I'm afraid I spent that Saturday acting a little shell-shocked.... I sold some stuff, I'm not sure what. I think my sales were decent (at least I hope they were), but in the grand scheme of things I really didn't care. I just wanted to get through the weekend and return to the safety of Tumbledown.

And now that I'm here, I can feel myself succumbing to the pull of the Rabbit Hole. My lungs seem compromised, my sinuses are packed with dust, my throat is sore, I'm coughing myself hoarse, and I suspect I've got a case of the Post-Fest Crud. I need liquids and a book or two. And silence.

So if you don't hear from me for a titch, that's where I am. Decompressing in Lala-land and feeling like the world's biggest baby.

P.S.: In rereading this post, I realize I've made it sound as though the fire was my own personal catastrophe. Please know that my heart goes out to those Fest folk who lost their buildings! And I offer up the biggest of thankyous to everything imaginable that was responsible that morning for saving lives. ~delayne.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Renaissancey Ramblings

Mayfaire in the rain -- :)
Only two weekends of Fest left. I can't say I'm not sorry.... It takes so much out of me to do this for the entire Fest season, and I half wonder if it'd be any easier if I did the Circuit and made every weekend a Fest weekend. The thought gives me the shivers. I'm sure I could do it, but I doubt for very long.
Autumn is my favorite season of all, and by the time Fest is over for the year I've pretty much missed its highlights. My gardens have peaked, the leaves have turned, Indian Summer has left the building -- the works. I'm still in a sort of post-Fest recovery when my birthday comes and goes and Halloween appears. But I know if I didn't have Fest to do come August every year I'd miss it in spades. It's just that now that I'm older, it's more difficult for me to Do It All.
This year, Fest has been sweet and rather uneventful. And as usual, I've learned a lot. I've learned that framed art is a luxury few can afford in a crappy economy, and that my lifetime customers will purchase from me regardless. Some have even saved money to commission something special. Others have drawn during the year and are eager to show me their work because I've specifically asked them to.... Some new customers are now my friends and have already visited me multiple times. Why someone would pay the admission price just to see me and have a Scotch Egg is unimaginable, but there you have it.... Strangers have stopped in for a smile and a hug. Little kids have stopped by to tell me what books they've read since I asked them last. And some customers have even brought me books(!) because they know how much I love them, bless their hearts.... The people I meet and take the time to get to know -- no matter how difficult that is for me -- are some of the most amazing and heartwarming folks on the planet. But it took stepping out of my cocoon to learn that.
The remaining two weekends will be easily the busiest by far unless weather interrupts attendance. Barring that, I expect to be pulled thin and feeling especially apologetic. Friends and family often wait until the last minute to attend, and by then I barely have time to wave and acknowledge them let alone enjoy a proper visit, and I feel bad when I can't give everyone my undivided attention. But it is what it is....
And -- believe it or not -- I'm already planning for and looking forward to next season. :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Something New!

Hey, everyone! Here's a little blip that features me, my new work, a bit of my shop in the background, AND my new lucky hat -- how cool is that? And if you're here in Minne-snow-tah and want something to do on what promises to be a fabulous autumn weekend, why not visit me at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival? My shop is Mayfaire (#443) and I'm by the Crown (aka Tortuga) Stage. Maybe I'll see you! :D

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

An INFP Tries to Make a Living

The MN Renaissance Festival is my big show of the year, my only show of the year, the one that pays my bills. Sort of.
My goal every spring is to be so ready for it that I can spend my summer days curled up in the hammock with a stack of comic books until the day arrives when I have to leave for First Weekend. But that's never happened. A more honest scenario goes thusly: Spring and summer both get away from me and I suddenly realize that all is now down to the wire, and 'being ready' will mean working 24/7 until the first Opening Cannon is fired.
Of course, it wouldn't be Fest season without this rush-and-panic. Sometimes I suspect it's even necessary, as the work spent getting ready keeps me from thinking too much.
When I first fantasized about becoming a full-time artist, I imagined myself cocooned in my cozy house, creating whimsical drawings, and -- I don't know what -- telepathically sharing them with people, apparently.... It never occurred to me that most of the work I'd be doing would be non-art-related. Or that a BIG part would involve interacting with people. Why I never thought of this embarrasses me now. Did I really assume those things would take care of themselves?
When it finally dawned on me that being an artist meant selling myself as well as my work, I assumed I'd eventually just get used to it. But I've been doing so now for over 25 years, and if nothing else, interacting with people has gotten more difficult. Even though I haven't a bit of 'actor' in my DNA, I keep telling myself that my game face is a role of sorts, and to wear it I have to get into character. But I have no idea what a confident and extroverted Artist looks or sounds like. However, I do know what it feels like. It feels fake.
I've been told I pull it off -- mostly from folks who only see me once a year standing behind my Festival shop's counter. None of them know me well enough to tell that I'm a quarter cup short of a panic attack.
If you shared a weekend with me at Fest, you'd wonder why I make such a big deal about what it takes to do it, as nothing much happens there than me standing on my feet all day and smiling at people until my face cramps. But I tell you what: Once I'm home again on a Sunday night I have all I can do not to go to bed for the rest of the week. I'm laid up with whole-body inflammation, I swear. Two days of people takes the stance-and-circumpoop right the heck out of me.... 
These days before each weekend now I 'armor up.' I ground and center, I dust off my attitude of gratitude, I thank the Universe for giving me the opportunity to live my life the way I do, as being personally vulnerable and exposing my work to the opinions of others is a small price to pay for this lifestyle and I know it. In comparison, the office job I once endured brought me way more money, certainly, but it also brought more health problems than I knew what to do with. I will never get rich drawing fairies, but it's still a dipped-in-gold improvement. And for that I'm eternally grateful.
I love being a part of Fest. I've always loved it! And I hate that in order to participate I have to gear up for it in spades when I know that, as always, it will prove to be all sorts of rewarding and magickal and amazing.

But for this INFP, it's one of the hardest things I've ever chosen to do.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Moments of Magic

I <3 everything by Julia Cameron!
Yesterday was so amazingly spectacular that there were times that the fullness of my heart brought tears to my eyes. Nothing extraordinary happened, not like winning the lottery or whatever. Just simple things. Like finding a ten-dollar bill in the pocket of my jeans. Stuff like that can make you believe in magic.

There was a quality of light yesterday that was September-tinged; the sun is definitely in its last-moments-of-summer quadrant and clock hands everywhere are pointing to quarter-til-school. As I walked around the neighborhood I could almost smell pencil shavings in the air and the scent of brown paper textbook covers, I swear, and my head was filled with the memories of new school shoes still in their cardboard box, and new watercolors begging for moisture.

Not half a block from home I encountered a 'free' box on the curbside. No, not kittens -- books. There I unearthed a copy of Julia Cameron's 'Walking in this World -- the Practical Art of Creativity'. (FOR FREE!) And then continuing on my way, I saw stands of pink and orange zinnias (oh the childhood memories!) and was greeted by an elderly barefoot woman out watering her lawn with a hose. In her baggy blue housedress and fly-away gray hair, she looked just like my late Auntie Helen, and in a wavery voice she called out, "What a nice day for a walk."

And it was!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's the Little Things

Morning glories make me smile -- :)
Yesterday was about releasing a dozen butterflies.

It was about smelling autumn on the breeze and catching sight of the unfurled trumpets of the morning glories I planted last spring, complete with fat bumblebees buried in them up to their bottoms.

It was about sweet and tender Grandbug hugs, and a mini meltdown when she discovered that her visit with me would be shorter than she'd hoped for. And it was about a goodbye gift of a box of raisins to keep her happy on the car ride home again....

Yesterday was about adding instant coffee to my frozen banana smoothie in an attempt to wake the heck up. It was about pain meds and muscle ointments and long hours spent at the computer in an attempt to figure out how to create a .pdf file.

It was about a late night call from my Eldest out in California, phoning just to chat. It was about soft clothes and Epsom salts, State Fair plans and printer paper, another long night of leg cramps and back spasms. And it was about fat cucumbers, hungry caterpillars, and sweet cherry tomatoes warmed by the sun.

And it was about being monumentally grateful.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fest Season is Here!

Mayfaire (Shop #443)
The Minnesota Renaissance Festival -- of which I'm proud to be a part -- began its season last weekend. This will be my 26th year there. And because I have so much to say about it but little time in which to do so (much must be done in preparation for Weekend Two!), I'll hit you with the highlights of my season thus far, 'k?

First Weekend was all SORTS of magickal. I saw familiar faces and new faces, met an honest-to-goodness Horse Whisperer(!) and a concerned father who conspired with me to make some fairy magic for his not-so-little-anymore girl. I got hugs and compliments and well-wishes. I got to dandle new babies. And I even made a sale!

There was a little rain, there was a lot of sunshine. The weather was such that I could wear my fave chemise, the handmade one I constructed from a curtain and a petticoat, the one with voluminous sleeves that tie at the elbow and catch on the pointy costume bits of friends when I hug them. And I chose the comfiest overdress -- the one that doesn't require all the flotsam that I usually buckle around my body when in costume -- and a beautiful Fest friend gifted me a straw hat that tied it all together with perfection.

Some of my favorite customers (I have awesome customers!) arrived to share pics of their grandchildren and catch me up on their lives. One brought me REAL coffee! And during a gentle rainshower my shop hosted a magickal little music jam that I felt blessed to witness. And did I mention that there was a hummingbird? And a dragonfly that circled my shop's interior, stopping briefly to check out its reflection in the art before going on its way.

All in all, a wonder-full first weekend. And very soon I'll get to do it all again. :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Fragile-ish Day....

Today's a wear-my-clothes-inside-out kind of day. And a day with Soft Foods on the menu, so all the spiny bits inside me can slumber and not have to snap and stab at stuff going down....

It's the kind of day where I hope the sun goes behind a raincloud and thunder makes me turn off the computer. And the phone doesn't ring and no one comes to the door, not even the Schwann's man. Because I won't answer it. Not even for a free trial pint of butter brickle.

It's a day for big plushy headphones large and silly looking as coffee cans. And a hairstyle with no stuff in it, just 'down' with nary a barrette or a scrunchee or a comb in sight. And soft pale colors that don't shout. And only good smells: coffee, warm cinnamon, and the scent of cool rain on cedar chips wafting into an open window.... And only clouds to sit on, so all the parts of me that feel like they're made of coat hangers held together with barbed wire can relax without biting.

I need it to be that kind of a day. But it's not. It's just a regular one, with all the neighborhood noise and clothes like sandpaper, and poky things to sit on, and slippers that pinch.

And here's me with so much to do....

Friday, August 5, 2011

The End-of-Summer Crazies

I'm so overwhelmed!! Can a season be any busier for me?

I can't begin to tell you all that's on my plate right now. The days that are all about finishing and finalizing drawings, about working out the logistics of printing and framing them, about questioning and second-guessing them as product designs (this always comes at a time when I'm over-frippin'-whelmed about my art). The hours spent feeding hungry, hungry caterpillars or releasing butterflies. The stolen moments spent babysitting the grandbug. The money worries and time constraints and sleepless nights. The lawn that needs cutting (still!), the areas of it that need mulching (again!), and the garden that's absorbing its harvest because I've yet to pick it. Chaos! Just know that I'm walking around in circles, wringing my hands.

Which just adds to all the panic, of course.

So out of desperation I've been sticking an occasional foot across my path and tripping my own self up with some small comfort rituals. Like tea with milk and sugar (not sweetener!). And stolen moments reading picture books (Mercer Mayer!). And the writing of lists.

I never realized how important lists are to me. Not for informational purposes so much as for their comfort value. I'm not organized enough to use them properly: I make them and lose them and accidentally throw them away or find them again ages later and realize then that I have no idea what they're even lists of....

And now that I'm aware of their importance, I try not to be without paper and pencil at all times, or at least have my smartphone handy so I can record stuff until I can transcribe it. Making lists clears my head. Or perhaps it just tricks me into thinking that all may be filling up with clutter and chaos around me but at least I can organize my thoughts....

Lately I've been busily making lists on everything from paper towels to kitchen counters to the backs of bills and even the back of my hand. Lists are everywhere here! On walls at eye level. On my drawing table, amidst the pencils scattered like pick-up-sticks. On art that is waiting to be scanned. There are even lists on top of lists, and lists that I've attempted to recreate because I can't find their originals. Solid proof of my frazzlement and my need to self-comfort!....

So because I don't want to bore you even more with all that's going on at the moment for which I'm frantically making lists, here's a -- list! (:->) A list of ten magical things about my yesterday:
  1. A morning spent reading picture books to my grandbug.
  2. The discovery of a perfectly preserved dragonfly the size of my open palm. (It's now on the shelf over my sink....)
  3. A phone call from my dad. It's usually my mother who calls me, so hearing his voice on the phone was a pleasant surprise. (And I made him laugh. Priceless!)
  4. Reading a spectacular book -- Shirley Jackson's 'We've Always Lived In the Castle' -- all in one sitting.
  5. A lunch of stale theatre popcorn. (Love it, can't help it, don't judge.)
  6. Receiving an email from a special friend from whom I haven't heard in months.
  7. Finding a ten-dollar bill in a pocket that I'd thought was empty. 
  8. Treating James to supper with my found money, and then being given a free dessert by the restaurant manager. (Awesome!)
  9. Coming home to an episode of Project Runway queued up on the DVR.
  10. A few moments before bedtime spent working on a knitting project. There's just something so meditative about clicking needles and yarn passing through one's fingers. (It's like petting a cat.)
There.... I feel better now.... You see how much help you are to me? Stop what you're doing right now and give yourself a big hug for being such a good listener. Because sometimes I don't know what I'd do without you, my friend.

Enjoy the rest of this Friday and have a great Weekend.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Quick Update

A fraction of the mouths I've chosen to feed
I'm so behind on blogposts, I know (sorry), but I've got my reasons.

A dental procedure I had done over a week ago seriously knocked me the heck out. And in the odd moments since that I've been awake and upright I've been up to my eyeballs in antibiotics and the occasional Big Pain med.... Unfortunately, when I'm at all under the weather either physically or emotionally, social media joins housework on my list of Things That No Way In Hell Do I Want To Do....

The thing I like about sleep is that my creative mind keeps working. And the only thing I like about the process of recovering from something like the aforementioned procedure is that my dreams are even more spectacular than usual. In one I had early Tuesday morning I got a Big Idea. I began working on it in earnest that afternoon, realized yesterday the errors I hadn't anticipated (I hate when that happens....), began all over again, and stayed up all night last night creating. 

Because the studio is set up to do something other than drawing at the moment (it frustrates me sometimes that I can't seem to just stick to one medium), I sat at the dining room table listening to "The Talisman" (King/Straub) on audio CD and working by lamplight in order to allow Miss Lily ample time to sleep. (If I don't do this she gets all wonky and vocal, and then within days she'll be minding her own business on her lofty perch and an egg will fall right out of her butt. And I swear she looks down at it in alarm with a thought balloon over her head that says (in all caps, too): "WHAT THE FLIPPIN' HECK!?")

Getting up from the table in order to put myself to bed at dawn was a joke. My back instantly seized, and I had to change my plans to allow for a boiling hot bath and a generous application of ActivON (big thankyous, oh inventor of ActivON). And this morning things felt relatively normal again....

The thing about Big Ideas is that you just want to work on them no matter what else needs doing. It was all I could do not to leap from my bed this morning (a minor exaggeration: I no longer leap, not first thing in the morning, not even if Matthew Macfadyen himself was standing right there with a gallon of espresso and a smile) and sit down to my work in my jammies and get back to it. I didn't even bother with coffee, I was that eager to get the fun underway!

However, caterpillars needed feeding (see photo: there's close to 40 now all munching away in their plastic cups on my kitchen counter), there were butterflies to release, the dewpoint outside felt pleasantly un-rainforest-y last time I checked so yardwork could (in theory) take place, there were gardens to water, and bedding to wash and hang on the line. And, of course, there was Dear You to write to -- something I actually enjoy doing and would suspend my play for.

And originally I'd thought today was Friday, James's half-day, and Fridays usually mean a movie in the afternoon, which would seriously put a crimp in the tail of my Big Idea work schedule. However, my tired self has since realized that it's only Thursday and I've got a whole 'nuther day in which to work -- yay! -- and since most of the things on my To Do list have been To Done, I'm now going to ignore the remainder and get back to work. (Apologies to my neighbors, but my Jurassic Park lawn is just going to have to be all wild and prehistoric for another evening. There's playing to be done!)

So enjoy your day, my friend! I'll share with you my Big Idea soon, k? And you'll be the first to know what I think of "The Talisman." :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Week Well Spent

The World's Cutest Toes
Last week was easily the busiest of weeks. The Grandbug's daycare closed after the Fourth of July holiday for a week-long summer vacation, and when asked, I eagerly agreed to step into the roll of babysitter once again. I used to provide Granny Daycare back in the day when the Bug was a baby, and I admit I went through some sad withdrawal symptoms when her parents decided to enroll her in a program with kids her own age. So opening the doors to Granny Daycare once more was amazingly rewarding. And thoroughly exhausting. But in a good way.
Together, Miss Bug and I painted our toenails red and our fingernails silver. We picked sweet, fat peas and ate them raw, straight from the garden. We released a newly hatched Monarch butterfly into the summery afternoon and rediscovered the magic handknit slippers, the ones that take us on spectacular indoor adventures. With a length of dental floss I repaired the sockmonkey's blown seam and she sealed the healing process completely with a sloppy kiss. We talked about dreams, we discussed the potty, we read books about big sisters and new babies. We poured imaginary tea into imaginary teacups, dispensed fairy-sized gingersnaps, and gave out dozens of hugs. And we rocked in the darkness of the nursery with our arms around each other....
Yes, I napped the evenings away afterwards, but with a smile on my face. My time was VERY well spent.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wonder-Full Wednesday

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

     ~George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer's Here!

First Fruits of the Season
The peas are fattening, the mulberries are ripening -- it's the second week of summer and already I feel as though it's nearly over!

I've yet to set up the hammock in a shady spot and haul out a comic book or two for some summer vacation reading. I still have to tie the cushions on the patio chairs, and throw the faded cloth over the bistro table. I must set the jar of sun tea out to strengthen in the heat of the front step. I need to bring down the iced tea glasses -- the ones with the ripe-cherries-and-checkerboard pattern -- from their top shelf. I must remember to clip a daylily and stick it in the Coke-bottle vase for the center of the table.... And for heaven's sake! What am I saving all those brand-new bottles of Bubble Stuff for?? I must get the Grandbug over here so the two of us can spill it all over ourselves in our attempts to create the world's biggest backyard bubble, one that will bring Glinda the Good Witch here to Tumbledown!

Holy cow, I'm a little behind on all the play....

So here's this week's mantra, everyone: Summer doesn't wait, but housework does. Let's leave it and enjoy the sun!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Weekend Eve Musings

A fat-'n-happy monarch caterpillar
Magic lives here at Tumbledown 24/7, and it greets me every morning, as if it's danced the night away impatiently waiting for me to wake.

Yesterday morning when I threw the upstairs window open to the cool moist air and pressed my face to the screen to breathe in the scent of rain, I was greeted by a red-headed woodpecker family squabbling noisily over the suet feeder and the sight of a succulent fairy ring circling a rather proud (and slightly obscene!) stinkhorn mushroom. The ring had sprung up overnight and seemed very Solstice/Midsommer appropriate, and I could only imagine what the fairies got up to while I slept....

As I enjoyed my morning coffee, I did some online research -- how to raise Monarch caterpillars in the classroom, how to control earwig infestations and eradicate weevils on stands of milkweed, how to use an organic pesticide called Safer's Endall -- all interesting stuff that threatened to suck my time away, but then the doorbell rang to startle me out of my reverie: just the mailman with a brown paper package for James (what could it be??, fan mail from some flounder?, oh the suspense!). I signed for it, then practiced playing 'Molly Hare' on the banjo a bit before finally getting my act completely together. (About my progress: I still totally suck, even after months of trying to get that dang frailing right, but I'm liking the activity nonetheless. It's just so... frog-voiced and countrified, if that makes sense.)

I filled my day with magickal little things and spent the minutes puttering happily. I fed the caterpillars I'd collected, found two more in the front gardens, and noticed that four had gone into their pre-chrysalis "J" formations sometime in the night. I kept a wary eye on Miss Lily, who'd found a dark perch and was hunkered on it oddly, feathers all a-fluff (I needn't have worried; today she greeted me with an egg the size of a nickle). And in the midst of it all I got a big idea, tore the studio apart looking for the ingredients, curled wire and beat it flat, arranged star-shaped glitter bits with stamp tongs, and hammered words on metal fragments with teeny tiny letterstamps so oily and fragrant they gave me visions of shadowy machine sheds filled with tools and sleeping motors.... And halfway through my creation I got so... what?... excited by it?... intimidated by it??... that I had to step away for a bit and read a book just to create some distance, it was that unnerving.

In any event, it was an amazing day. And now I'm ready to pick up again where I left off, so here I go. But before I do, I want to wish you a happy Weekend Eve, my friend. May your day be filled with magic, too! And may you take the time to share it with me here. 


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Message from the Rainforest

My world is in shades of green...
I spent yesterday playing with copper wire and bottlecaps, sequins and tissue paper, dog tags and millefiori. And in between bouts of happy creativity I fed caterpillars, finished a book, drew faces, wrote a blog entry, stirred up some mac 'n cheese, phoned my mom, and paid attention.

It was another day of rain, fortunately. With all this precipitation my gardens have become prehistoric tangles of wilderness -- the hostas look like palm trees. I know if I hazard to look under a frond or two, I'll be greeted by slugs the size of dragons....

Because of the rainfall I've been indoors, unable to deal with the work that's piling up outside for me as a result of it: all the weeding and mowing and thinning and whatevering. And because it knows I'm helpless, the ground ivy and woodbine are growing like jungle vines; I can almost see them twining and curling like the animated weeds in a Roundup commercial.

Oh well. Let it rain! It can do so forever and Tumbledown can be overtaken by looming ferns and choking creepers and I'll be happyhappyhappy!, trapped inside with my books and my imagination.

Life is dang good here today. :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Most Magical Day

Overhearing the mutter and murmur of wren nestlings as I pass the backyard birdhouse that my dad made for me.

Discovering the first fairyberries of the season (and on the Summer Solstice, too!).

Walking up and down the aisles of a local hardware store while outside a thunderstorm rages....

Admiring galvanized wingnuts, copper washers, and lengths of ball chain and imagining how they could all go together to make a dang fun necklace.

Enjoying a phone call from the Grandbug telling me how she'd 'dog paddow'd' at her first-ever 'thwimming lethen.'

Leaning down to pick lettuce leaves from the garden at dusk and spying a most exquisite dragonfly resting there....

Grabbing just any old book from the shelf before making a lap for the cat, and then discovering that it could only have been hand-picked for me by the Universe Itself.*

Sleep full of dreams, dreams that I can still recall and am comforted by.

*The Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg. Read it. Read it, read it, read it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Trying to Get Back on Track....

Dearest You,

A blogpost from me is looooong overdue, I know.... And I especially need to follow up on my last topic, the one about women, their work, and how it's never done (at least in my humble opinion), and one is in the works, I promise.

I was hoping to start a dialogue here about it that would attract more comments from other artists. And when that didn't pan out like I'd hoped, I shared a link to the post with my facebook friends in an attempt to drum up some more activity. It worked.

Doing so did generate some attention and interesting POVs, but I was in the process of embarking on an Adventure at the time and couldn't feed/mediate/juggle the comments like I should have and the conversation derailed before it got back on track. And then it waned. And for that I apologize.

For everyone's benefit, I promise to distill that discussion at some point and share it here, 'k? And in the meantime I'll try to post A Little Something more often than I have been.

Caio for now.

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Big Adventure

Me, happily watching the world go by...
I've been away for a bit, off on an Adventure that began last Thursday when I accompanied James to Milwaukee for the annual Bead and Button show. James used to sell his glasswork as one of the vendors there but has recently taken a much-needed break from it, and friend and fellow glassworker Julie Nordine has since conveniently stepped into his space. It's a different experience for us now as attendees. The city is ours for the taking.

This year instead of driving like fiends the two of us took the Amtrak 'Empire Builder' train to our destination. I'd brought books, sketchpads, and a pillow for napping, and I could have left them all at home as there was just that much to see.

The 6-hour ride rocked by in a blur of gentle rhythms and views that one can only catch from a passenger car. I saw the picket-fenced backyards of the Midwest with their just-begun vegetable gardens, bonfire circles, and private Edens where a lawnchair or two could be tucked into leafy clots of creeper vines or under shady grape arbors (and sometimes were).... I saw a pair of Sandhill Cranes dancing in an open field with their fledglings. I saw lawnmower-created crop circles that may or may not have been intentional. I saw miles of telephone poles with insulators the color of Ball jars, and at least three broomsticks standing on end along the woodsy bank (a railroad thing, perhaps?). Golden deer paused at attention in the trees and watched us pass. And in teeny tiny towns with red brick train stations, children stopped on their bikes and waved....

No sooner had we arrived at our hotel than I came down with a monumental sinus infection that absolutely kicked my ass. But I was on an Adventure! And my rules state that Adventures are so important that sometimes you just gotta work through the pain. Our Milwaukee trip happens once a year and I didn't want to miss a thing. So in addition to attending the Bead and Button show, taking some classes, and reconnecting with great glass artists, great friends, and great customers who have become great friends, James and I took every opportunity to see the city.

We visited the Safe House (an annual must-see), and saw the Science Museum. We walked along the edge of beautiful Lake Michigan (that IS the body of water that Milwaukee is on, isn't it?, I'm totally stupid when it comes to geography....). We watched as a bridal party was photographed on the deck of the schooner Denis Sullivan, admired a church so fancy it could be the Yank version of Hogwarts, took pics of a kite in flight that was shaped like a huge rainbow-colored devil ray, bought a book full of the photos of fish skeletons, took video of a pub on wheels (that must be seen to be believed), shared pints of Guinness with a friend at nearby Mo's, encountered magic everywhere (a finger-sized cypress tree growing up through a crack in the sidewalk, a Dumpster with the graffiti'd message "You Are Beautiful", a city bus going to someplace called Mayfair), and had an all-around memorable time. James is seriously the best traveling companion ever, especially for someone like me who needs a 'handler.'

My sore throat and fever caused me to be rather 'out of it' for much of the sight-seeing, unfortunately. And I did miss dinner with friends. But there's also something to be said for hunkering down in a cave-like hotel room with a Do Not Disturb sign on the door and nothing to distract you from your recovery save for the occasional footsteps in the hallway or firetruck siren far below on the city street. And for long hours of much-needed rest, I did not forget that my housework and lawncare worries were miles away back in Minnesota, too far for me to care about. It was a nice feeling....

By Sunday afternoon I was more than happy to curl up in a window seat once more and let Amtrak do the driving. And this time I not only saw a breathtaking sunset but I caught sight of a stitched-together patchwork of a houseboat afloat on a lake, a white-painted cabin that had once been an old railroad car, a privacy fence made up of dozens of fancy wooden doors secured side-by-side, what I can only assume was an ADA-compliant deer stand, a silo no taller than a garage door (it had a window and a chimney, too; just the cutest thing), and a tiny cemetery in a clearing in the forest where the few bleached-white gravestones circled a little garden of yellow flowers. I felt privileged to witness them all and sorry for the passengers napping or glued to their laptops watching movies. How could they not be aware that magic was happening right outside their windows??

And now it's business as usual again. The garden peas grew in my absence, and so did all the weeds. My suitcase still needs unpacking and mail needs to be dealt with. An art commission came while I was gone. Boo is happy for the lap I've made. And some chicken soup and ginger tea are calling to me.

Adventures are fabulous, certainly. But it's also good to be home again. :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Woman's Work is Never Done

What IS it about this topic??
I'm taking a friend's advice again this week and once more treating my studio like the job it's meant to be. I say 'once more' because I used to do this, a few years ago when I decided to become a full-time artist.
At first, spending days on end in the studio was a breeze. I'd left my job (for health reasons) after a July holiday, and being at home then after years of crazy overtime was like being let out of school for summer vacation. Euphoria! My days were spent playing.
But it wasn't long before I settled into a routine. Stuff piled up around the house. Because James was employed part-time and away from Tumbledown for most of the week, I began to imagine that what he was doing was more 'real' and important than what I was doing, and I felt guilty. To justify my time at home (not to mention the fact that any money I was bringing in was sporadic at best), I tried to pick up the slack and pinch pennies. I did the house- and yardwork as best I could. I planned and planted a vegetable garden. I dried clothes on the line. I cooked from scratch. And soon all those tasks became my priority. (Not to mention being frugal is hard work!) And then my grandbug was born and art went way, way down to the bottom of the list....
Part of my problem is that I'm a woman, and women just naturally think they have to Do It All. And part of my problem is how I was raised. My mom won't remember this, but years ago when I began a new job I made the mistake of saying in front of her how happy I'd be to begin sharing the housework and childcare with my spouse, now that I would be working as many hours a week as he was. And in true June Cleaver fashion, she corrected me. There'd be no sharing. I was expected to Do It All.
And men -- up to and including those of my generation -- still live by different standards, even if they think they don't. If you compared my artist partner to me you'd see it at once. James nurtures his creativity first and foremost. He has no problem getting out of bed in the morning and going straight to his workspace without feeling the need to mow a lawn or wash a dish. Because in his mind, both he and his creativity are just that important. And an unmown lawn or unwashed dish doesn't faze him. Not like it does me. To me, that dish is proof that my nest is a mess. And that means there's something wrong with me.
To his credit, James is more than willing to share the work around here, but keep in mind that he's also a lifelong bachelor. And no offense, bachelors, but y'all gotta admit that your idea of 'good enough' isn't quite up to female standards. (To a woman, there's nothing comfortable about living in an Animal House....) And making him share the work seems hardly fair to me, seeing as how he has a job outside the home (these are my rules; they don't have to make sense).
Anyway, all this is making me think about those artists who've inspired me over the years who are men. Men who were left alone to happily draw and dream their days away because there was a woman in the background somewhere taking care of things. While those guys were busy creating, beds were being made, children were being nurtured, meals were being put together, a home was being kept. But did the creative women have someone doing that for them? How many times have I heard of women getting up at 4 A.M. to write at the kitchen table before sending their kids to school? Or drawing at night when they slept? (Even I've done that....)
When a new artist friend of mine recently blogged about what she called her poor time management skills, her words agitated me. I'm sure her time management skills are exemplary. I'm sure she's a skilled multi-tasker! It's just that, being a woman, she's probably already got more than enough on her plate.
Believe it or not, I've tried writing about this topic at least a dozen times and nothing I say about it seems to make sense, at least to me. Bottom line: Women shouldn't have to carve hours out of their sleeptime in order to make art! But aside from discovering a househusband somewhere, or hiring a staff, I'm not really sure what to do about it.
Any suggestions?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Back Once More...

Lilacs and blank pages:
two of my favorite things!
The long Memorial Day weekend was full of busy and went by in a blur.

My dandelions grew to leggy and monstrous proportions and went to seed as a group. The rhubarb fanned out like a bouquet of elephant ears. The little finch babies fledged when I was too busy to pay attention, and now the bedroom window is amazingly quiet. (Although in the pre-dawn minutes I've heard wings going in and out of the old homestead -- nostalgic visitings, perhaps? Or do finches have more than one brood per season?) Clouds came and went on the wind and mornings were heralded by claps of thunder and the drumming of rain on the roof. James was home for four whole days and life couldn't have been better.

But now it's back to work for us both! Once again with the Morning Pages and the daily 3-mile walk and the keeping of some regular studio hours.

And I promise to post when I can. :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Question I Might Not Like The Answer To

Does she know something I don't know?
Last Saturday was cold and wet: just right for a studio day. I managed to get the old television above my drawing table working and I listened to PBS for the afternoon while I sketched on watercolor paper. I want to say that it was a pleasant way to spend my time but I'm not entirely convinced. As it was, I took every opportunity to get up and walk away from the drawing table. And when Boo leapt into my lap at one point and pushed me away from my work, I was more than happy to take a break....
The neighborhood was up bright and early the next morning, taking advantage of the sunshine. I woke to the drone of chainsaws and woodchippers as someone somewhere eradicated the shade on their property.... I put morning glories in the ground and added manure to the vegetable patch. James cut conduit pipe and built a trellis for the peas, and I threaded it with jute. I sowed chard and spinach and mesclun, cukes and lima beans. Then together we surrounded the bed with chicken wire to keep out Bad Bunny, last year's little garden bandit that nibbled every pea-ling off at its knees.... By the end of the day I was beat. The knees of my jeans were caked with mud, there was dirt under my already too short fingernails. I felt sore and wonderful and eager to get back out there again....
And now as I look at those two paragraphs, I've begun to wonder: Obviously I'm avoiding my art. Is it just the advent of warm weather after a long Minnesota winter that has me way more interested in peas and dirty fingernails than in pencils and watercolor paper? Or does the idea of drawing seem like work to me, and frolicking in the humus and dandelions seems more like play?
Or is it something more?