My blog is not only about the arts and crafts business but about life in general. My hope is to inspire you, inform you, and make your current beverage of choice squirt out your nose. I've chosen "Dog's Head Red", a fine red table wine that's a cut above good ol' Mad Dog. A very tiny cut above. It's not quite as refined as "Drive 'er Home", my other favorite, but quite swanky, none the less. Read quickly, before it's all too blurry.
Friday, October 21, 2011
On October 17th, my son, Eamon, played his very last high school soccer game. Even though the team lost, he had one of his best games, making some jaw dropping saves. (He's a keeper. That's a goalie, for you non soccer aficionados.) I want to tell you what a great experience it was, (and it was), and how proud I am, (and I am), but mostly - I was devastated. Why was I not so devastated when my oldest daughter, Kira, played her last game? Why was I not so devastated when my other daughter, Keelan, played her last game? Why? Because he's my baby. In a few short months he'll be graduating, then going far away to college. As I watch him drive off in his very own car, I can't help but wonder - how did this happen? How can I be my mother? When did I become my mother? When did she become my grandmother? Why do I sob at the mere thought of him leaving, becoming a man? Who am I kidding - he's already a man. I never thought I would be at this place, this place where only others get to. This place where we must face our quiet houses. This place where we must find out if we have anything left in common with our spouses now that we have no one to interrupt us or demand our constant attention. This place where we must face our own mortality. Oh, my. How things change.
I found myself descending not into depression, but into "the pit", or in other words, my shop in the basement. I needed solitude. I needed to think, to feel, to find a way to cope. I sat in my usual place, looking at all the little replica animals around me, waiting to be placed into someone's special piece of art for them to enjoy forever. I sat that way for a long time - no TV, no iPod, no phone - just silence. I found pleasure once again in planning my pieces, laying them out, rearranging, deciding what goes where. I poured the resin, and spent a few hours molding, shaping and building. I finally sat back, feeling satisfied with my work, yet at the same time still feeling something was missing. My hands gravitated towards a new piece of wood, towards some little toy monkeys I'd been saving for a special lamp. I sanded the wood, sealed it, did all the things I usually do to make a lamp. But this lamp was different. This lamp was for someone I haven't met yet, but whom I love unconditionally. This lamp was for the person who will, in fact already has, unknowingly renewed me. This lamp is for Greyson, who at this moment is still unborn, his two mommies, my daughter and daughter-in-law, ready to take on the ultimate challenge and experience the ultimate joy. This is for my grandson, who has helped me to understand that each phase of life comes with it's own unique set of joys. Any day now he will make his entrance, this first grandchild of mine, and change us all profoundly. Hurry, Greyson. Gramma needs you.
Here's hoping you all find peace in your art or craft, as I have.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
My wonderful daughter was married to the very pregnant love of her life on September 24th of this year. New York State legislator's pulled their heads out of their asses long enough to do the right thing and legalize same sex marriage. I love this photo of them (my daughter on the right, my older daughter right behind her, and my new daughter-in-law on the left), because every face in that picture shows the pure, unadulterated joy we all felt that day. Homophobia, in fact, bigotry of any kind, does not exist in our house. Now, we just have to figure out how to get rid of it in the rest of the world.
For those of you who get offended at strong language, my apologies up front, but I have no intention of holding back. I encourage you to continue reading, as the subject matter is of the utmost importance.
My daughter works for Constellation Energy Group at Nine Mile Point in upstate New York. She is a guard at a nuclear plant. It seems that Constellation (CENG) has decided not to extend medical benefits to my daughter-in-law. Hmmm. Let's take a closer look. Obviously, my daughter and her new wife are gay. They are also pregnant. They are legally married in New York State. They are NOT domestic partners. CENG, being the total bigoted fuckwads that they are, will not allow my daughter-in-law to be covered under my daughter's medical insurance, originally citing the Union she belongs to as not recognizing the marriage. They also said they would not allow my grandson to be covered upon his birth until my daughter adopted him. Ummmmm, wrong. First of all, Nine Mile Point (NMP) is a closed shop. She can't just drop out of the Union. You're either management or Union, there's nothing else. CENG's original claim that this is the Union's fault is an out and out lie. They have since admitted that company policy does not recognize domestic partnerships. Well. How about that. Except a) they most certainly DO recognize domestic partnerships for non Union members and b) HELLO!! ANYBODY HOME??? This is not a domestic partnership - they are legally married!!! And last but not least c) according to our attorney, my daughter will be on the birth certificate when her wife gives birth to their son. No other proof of parenthood/guardianship is required. CENG has acknowledged that they fucked that up and will cover the baby upon his birth. And yet, they still refuse to allow my daughter-in-law to be added to my daughter's insurance. I commend the Union for stepping up and going full steam ahead to remedy this situation. I commend my daughter's co-workers who are completely appalled by this situation. And, if I may take a positive, hopeful note, I, in advance, commend CENG for stepping up and doing the right thing and allowing my daughter and daughter-in-law to share the same benefits as their straight counterparts, which, as I am more than sure you are aware, is their legal right as a married couple in New York State.
Now, if CENG decides to remain being twatwaffles about this, I CANNOT WAIT to launch the attorney's that have contacted us about this on them. I CANNOT WAIT to spread the word about this precedent setting case to the news media. Without making the smallest effort on my part, word is already spreading. CENG will see their name up in lights all over the country for being a homophobic, bigoted company who's main goal in life, in my opinion, is to break the Union at the expense of their employees. This is clearly discrimination. I am sure that CENG is aware that documentation is my friend. I have lots - every email that's been exchanged between my daughter and the company. CENG had no problems with adding my daughter-in-law to my daughter's insurance right up until the day came to actually add her. Then their tune suddenly changed dramatically. This is not hearsay. This is for real. This is blatant discrimination.
So as not to represent Constellation Energy Group as the only piece of shit company without knowledge of the law or a fucking conscience out there, let us give credit where credit is due to New York and Company, my daughter-in-law's former employer. She was fired when she was seven months pregnant. Why? Golly, gee, we don't know. We can't seem to get an answer. Her reviews are all outstanding. The reason they give is "policy violation". I wonder what policy? Don't know, they won't say. There were no warnings that she had violated any policy. Just "you're fired." Hmm. You know why we haven't gotten all the paperwork we requested from them, such as all her reviews, any reprimands, etc.? Because, once again, documentation is our friend, not theirs, in this case, and they know it. So, New York and Company, is there any possibility that you don't care for pregnant lesbians? Bigotry at it's worst. Your name will be right along side Constellation Energy Group's as this country's two biggest assholes. Congratulations.
And right up there with CENG and New York and Company, as much as I love my country and am a huge patriot, I must put our government. My eldest daughter is a veteran who served in Afghanistan. She's home now, complete with her honorable discharge and her mental and physical scars - but she has no health insurance. Shame on the U.S. of A. for allowing this travesty to continue to happen. Every honorably discharged U.S. veteran should have medical care for life. Period.
In closing - it's time to get our shit together, people.
One very pissed off mom
P.S For all of you expecting my usual crafting blog, or at least a blog that mentions my craft, I took some liberties today. Thanks for reading.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Every once in a while there comes along an "ah ha" moment which we never could have foreseen, which we never expected, a moment so obvious in its simplicity that it leaves us nearly breathless. A moment in time that makes negativity and the perplexities of every day life fade into the background, if only for that one moment in time. It is a moment not to be missed.
On a recent visit to my daughter's in Queens, we decided to take a day trip to the Bronx Zoo. While riding the monorail after walking around in the drizzle all day, the train rounded a bend, and there he was. A solitary tiger, a specimen of beauty so complete that I was nearly moved to tears. It was not until days later that I realized I had been able to capture my moment - and his - in a photo that would allow me to ponder upon the thoughts of this magnificent animal for the rest of my days. This regal cat emanated peace, displayed contentment merely by the lazy blink of his eyes. Whether he was truly at peace at this moment or it was simply my perception of what I wanted his reality to be, I don't know. But at that moment, it didn't matter. He could have been waiting to pounce on some poor, unsuspecting prey and thinking "lunch!", but it didn't matter. His tranquility was contagious. The vibrant orange of his spectacular coat contrasted vividly with the summer green of the trees. That same vibrant orange reflected softly in the still water, a calm oasis that rippled only slightly as the cat flexed his muscles. And as my eyes took in the majesty of this creature and transmitted that unforgettable picture to my brain, the reality of aging parents, struggling businesses, children's growing pains, unpaid bills and a bed beckoning me to return to it and remain there with my head under the covers until the end of time all left me. Only for a moment, but they left me, those problems determined to sidetrack me, because I could not deny that no matter what I believe, no matter what my trials and tribulations are, no matter how challenging my life has become, life was resoundingly beautiful. This world cannot be a bad place when there exists in it the power and glory of my exquisite tiger at the Bronx Zoo.
As you all work in your studios and workshops, creating your own beauty in the world, I wish for you to have an "ah ha" moment.
Friday, April 1, 2011
This fine young man is my son. Quite the stud muffin, yes? This is the young man for whom I had to implement the "when I'm working, I'm dead" rule that I mentioned in an earlier blog. A few years ago, my son began playing a very unusual musical instrument. It's called the "butt trumpet". The "butt trumpet" is a distant relative of another invention of teenagers, both boys and girls, most commonly referred to by the young athletic types as the "snot rocket". What could this possible have to do with making lovely little lamps, you ask? Allow me to elaborate.
My shop, a.k.a "the pit", is in the basement, as is my son's bedroom. Until a few years ago, the noise coming from his room was easily identifiable. It was music, or something he considered music. Bear in mind, I work with resin. I can't have the stuff jiggling all over the place as it's trying to cure. And yet, that's exactly what happens when the boy turns on his mega big ass surround sound stereo system. My pouring table shakes from the pounding subwoofer that's vibrating right through the cement floor. And then tiny specks of dust start floating down from the ceiling. I thought this would be about as bad as it could get. I had cured him and his two older sister's of "snot rocketing" anywhere but outside. "Snot rocketing" - you know, when a soccer player or football player (choose your outdoor sport) launches a giant booger at an unsuspecting competitor. Don't deny it. All you jocks know just what I'm talking about. But, no, it got worse. Read on.
About the time my little angel hit puberty, the "butt trumpet" added a new dimension to my suffering. The first time he blessed me with his talent, he had plodded down the basement stairs in his disgustingly sweaty soccer uniform and kind of dripped into his room. Expecting the onslaught of "music", and I use that term loosely, to spew forth momentarily, I heard a diffent sound. A long, low, gurgley rumble, soft at first and then growing in intensity until I had to cover my ears, rolled boldly into the pit. Have you seen "War of the Worlds"? The remake, not the original. This was a tripod kind of sound, only wetter. It could have been much worse, my friends. The accompanying oder could have left me unconcious on the cold cement floor, but no! I work with resin. I use a respirator! Gasping for air, hands clasped to my ears, I ran for the relative safety of that mask, jammed it on my face and drew a massive breath. I was going to live! Thus, my introduction to the instument my son has become quite adept at playing - the "butt trumpet".
So what can we learn from this? We could lock our sons in their rooms with an air filter, I suppose, but I was thinking more along the line of expressing the importance of wearing the proper protective gear for the job. If you ever get a hankering (a WHAT?) for experimenting with resin, wear a respirator, not just a particle mask. And if you're a power tool junky, put on the safety glasses. I've come close to learning the hard way that skimping on the protective gear is just plain dumb.
On that note, get out your air purifier's and happy crafting!
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
What is not to love about this lovely piece of work? I ask you, how can this kind of genius be rejected? Because one person's genius is, well, not another person's genius. Yes, not being accepted to a show definitely falls into the sucks category. I've had rejections to three major shows already this year, which will result in an estimated loss of income of $6000.00 or more. That REALLY goes in the "sucks" category! Now, I could sit around and feel sorry for myself. Let's face it. That's exactly what I've been doing. Or, I could examine the reasons for not being accepted to these shows and learn from them, in theory anyway. Unless I'm too butt hurt to open my eyes and look at it without the "who can resist me" attitude. So let's have at it.
Show rejection #1 - I have applied to this show for years. It has a very complex application process and it's very hard to get accepted for the first time. I got farther this year than ever before in this process. I made it through the first jury round. My understanding is that there are two rounds. So, I'm getting closer. At this point, I think the only thing I can do differently is to apply earlier. It shouldn't make any difference when I apply as long as it's by the deadline, but sometimes it just does.
Show rejection #2 - Quite frankly, this one pissed me off. The jury consists of retailers, not crafters. The jury form stated my craft was not hand made. Which leads me to believe that although I was told submitting my website URL was sufficient and would be referred to for the artistic process and additional photos, that this did not happen. Even though as the result of continuing research I have never found a big box store, import store, or another crafter with the same product, or even close, for that matter, I received only 7 of 15 points for creativity. Really? They decided I was simply embellishing the resin. OMG. Honestly, I'm not even going to address that because it's so ridiculous. The first, and only thing I could think of that turned them off is that I use manufactured resin and porcelain animals instead of making the animals myself of polymer clay as I have in the past. The problem with making my own animals is that a) I suck at it, and b) it is simply not cost effective or time efficient. I would have to raise my prices by at least $15.00 per piece and then I would not sell even one of them. So, from a business stand point, I can't justify hand crafting my little animals.
Show rejection #3 - This show is, again, very difficult to get into. There's a huge amount of entries for a relatively small amount of accepted artist's/crafter's. I think a sign of the times is that more and more artisan's are applying to only the larger, more "sure thing", very established, long standing shows. We can't afford to have shows where our profits are tiny, or worse yet, we wind up in the hole. I have found that the smaller shows are searching for crafter's while the larger shows are turning many quality crafter's away because so many apply. I also think this will level off as the economy improves. That may take another 150 years, but I'll try to remain optimistic.
That sums up my words of wisdom. My apologies for another thing that sucks, which is my grammar. I'm having a humongous brain fart and just throwing ,'s and 's all over the place because I can't remember the basic rules of the English language. Sniffin' too much resin, I'm sure.
Friday, February 18, 2011
This is my house. This is my house in winter. This is my house in the snow in winter. This is my house in which I live. This is my house in which I live and in which I am wondering what could be so bad about global warming if I didn't have to deal with this frigid white crap anymore?
What do I usually do when the snow piles up and the icicles are hanging from the roof like giant daggers just waiting to fall and impale some unsuspecting visitor? I descend into the pit and work. I embed tiny creatures in gooey resin and stick a bunch of even tinier animal buddies in the goo around them so they won't be lonely. And I begin to relax and refocus. But not this winter. Not this long, cruel winter of unending white stuff falling from the sky. No, this winter I chop endless fat pieces of wood into endless skinny pieces of wood so we can be warm and cozy without owing the propane company our first born. I balance precariously on my roof, shoveling huge amounts of the dreaded white stuff off so the white stuff stays out of our bedroom. I spend hours viciously hacking away at the obnoxiously large blocks of ice that have frozen at the edge of that same roof. Then I find that some of those spiky ice daggers have melted and found a way to squeeze their liquid selves into the wires connecting the fire place blower to it's switch, rendering it - and my primary heat source - useless.
My husband and I will be retiring in just a couple of years. I used to be a great believer in "home is where the heart is". I have become a greater believer in "home is where the snow - ain't."
Here's wishing you all a blissfully short winter.