Thursday, June 19, 2014

Into the middle

"People asking questions, lost in confusion, well I tell them there's no problem, only solutions."

I'm feeling a bit like the White Rabbit lately. And it's not just that I'm late for a very important date (which I probably am), not just that I always feel like I'm running behind (and running, running, running) but that there's so much to do and say that I hardly know where to begin.
The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. "Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?" he asked.

"Begin at the beginning," the King said gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop."
It seems like a simple enough formula, but unless we want to go back to "it was a dark and stormy night," or "once upon a time, long, long ago," I guess I will just jump into the middle.

My Colgate University class, The Advent of the Atomic Bomb, wound up at the end of April. The final two movies we watched were the classic Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, and War Game, a dramatized hypothetical nuclear bombing of Britain created by the BBC in 1965 but not broadcast until 1985 because at the time it was considered too horrifying. It was screened outside Britain and won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1967, once more begging the question of whether fiction can actually be documented.

I first saw Dr. Strangelove when I was a student at Colgate. I don't remember it well and found it dark and confusing, not at all the entertainment that I expected from a movie night. All these years later, it was gripping but still confusing, especially the character of Dr. S, how he fit in, and what the hell "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" means in the title of the movie.

Our final discussions revisited the question we'd wrestled with at the beginning of the semester ("Should the bombs have been used as they were in 1945?") and whether or not our opinions had changed. Although I had wavered during the semester, in the end me feelings remained the same
Bottom line, my opinion is unchanged. I don't think we should have dropped the bombs. I also don't think Japan should have bombed Pearl Harbor. I don't think human beings should resolve problems by killing each other. I don't think people should kill each other for any reason really.

But it happened. It is what it is, or it was. The only thing left to do is learn from experience and try to do better. No more atom bombs have been deployed in combat. We survived the Cold War. Those are inarguably steps in the right direction.

One thing I've been thinking about the estimates of American casualties if we'd sent troops to invade mainland Japan is that the debated statistics fail to consider the future generations that wouldn't have been born. No doubt some of us would not be here to participate in this dialog.

Of course, that begs the question, how many Japanese descendants were preemptively vaporized along with their forebears? And of course Japanese citizens are still affected by the long-term and hereditary consequences of radiation.

But the life force is strong, humankind and nature have some pretty amazing abilities to recover from damage. Not infinite abilities though. Nuclear weapons and nuclear accidents aside, there is much more we (by which I mean all the citizens of the planet) can and should be doing to protect life on earth as we know it.
And after that, all that was left to say was this.
I loved the class. I'm sad that it's over. I watched every lecture and every movie of the week (on my iPad, walking on the treadmill, mostly). Some twice. I read some of the textbook (harder to do on the treadmill) and viewed most of the supplemental materials.

I can't even imagine the workload for the students. At times it felt like drinking from a firehose, and I didn't have research papers and presentations, or midterms or finals. I did contribute to the Timeline and tried to figure out Twitter, and I read almost all of the discussion threads and contributed when it made sense.

Thank you so much for this opportunity. I learned so much.
And just now, going back to re-read my own words, I finally saw this response from Professor Harpp, posted about a month ago (and yes, it made me tear up).
Liz, thanks for all your ongoing contributions and enthusiasm in the course. Very much appreciated!
May started out for me with my first online trunk show and I was quite happy with how it worked out, although a little overwhelmed by how much work it was. I barely left my computer for two days and then I still had a boatload of beads to package and ship, but I sold a lot of beads to a lot of people. Money and validation are mother's milk to me.

Sales have continued apace on the three Facebook sites I've been selling on, and capturing a surprising amount of my discretionary time. (You may be selling too much, when you list a bead auction, someone posts BIN (buy-it-now), and your first thought is an essential groan because now you have to send an invoice, put up another listing, pack and ship the bead. What a nice first world problem to have. I'm happy to have it but it can be crazy-making when you were just about to sit down with the love of your life and watch something on the tube.

Sets have been my best sellers and I cleaned out my bead show trays, restringing most of the beads into smaller sets, splitting some into two sets and filling them out with new accent beads. Inspiration, creativity and motivation found me at the torch almost every day.

By the time my real-life bead show rolled around in June, I had to scavenge my Etsy shop for sets, a first for me. I've always kept separate inventories because my bead making has always comfortably exceeded my bead sales. Facebook business even drove new customers to my Etsy shop, but sales are steadier on Facebook and the only fees are for Paypal.

In case you are interested, the Facebook sites where I sell are these. (you have to join, but if you send a request you will be approved in literally no time flat because any member can approve you and someone always is minding the store.)

Lampwork Beads for Sale
Lampwork Bead Market
Artisan Lampwork Beads for Sale

There's a new page too, Lampwork Bead Auctions. I just joined today myself and haven't listed anything yet. I'm not sure I want to monitor an additional site, but I'm thinking about it.

I may have mentioned that I was one of ten artists chosen to participate in the second series of the Beads of Courage Bead Design Challenge.

The bead I was asked to reproduce was designed by Beads of Courage Member Gilina Voon from Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. Here is a photo of the design and one of the 25 beads I created.

This was much harder than I thought it would be and I even offered to drop out after several prototypes weren't up to my own exacting standards. But the BOC director thought my beads were fine for the program. They did improve with practice but I have to say, when I finished number 25, I had no desire to go back and redo any earlier efforts. I packed them up and shipped them out and I'm sorry I didn't take a group photo, because as a group they were really cute. One on one I liked them a bit less.

I didn't know until the web page was published that my bead design prompt was "If Life were a Bead." I was asked to write "Hope" (in glass) on the back of my beads and I did. I have it in writing. I'm sorry someone got it wrong, and not just because it was a mistake. "Life" would have been a lot easier to write in glass than "Hope."

You can see all ten beads - and buy one if you wish, while quantities last. The beads are pricey (about triple my per-bead "honorarium") but its for a very good cause, supporting kids who are battling cancer. The challenge was sponsored by Jewelry Television and the Soft Flex Company.

The month of May went out like a mountain lion with a trip to Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I'm editing those pictures for you now. And June kicked off with Ryland's second birthday party weekend. More photos to edit and show.

But before I sign off for now, I want to show you the long-promised "Piggy Back Ride" pig beads made by Gelly Davis, who makes pigs of all kinds with clever names like Honey Glazed Ham and Biker Hog. There is Pot Bellied Pig and Stoned Pig.

I've (cough) temporarily misplaced the comments I saved from the Facebook posting about the piggies below. But the photo is worth at least a dozen four-letter words.

Although Gelly insisted they weren't "making bacon" all I could say was "um" and "their expressions!"

"People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I'm OK well they look at me kind of strange
Surely your not happy now you no longer play the game

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell that I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball

People asking questions lost in confusion,
Well I tell them there's no problem only solutions
Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I've lost my mind
I tell them there's no hurry I'm just sitting here doing time

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go
I just had to let it go
I just had to let it go."

(The very late, very great John Lennon)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

This Boy

"Oh, and this boy would be happy, just to love you."

He kills me.

I can't believe he's mine. Ours.

He radiates light. He is gentle and unafraid. He is loved, and he knows that. It shows.

He's a little boy now. When, how did that happen?

His mama is mine too. I am lucky. We are lucky.

Two years old today. Wow.

That is all.

And I'll be back with my normally programmed musings. Soon.

"That boy took my love away
Though he'll regret it someday
But this boy wants you back again

That boy isn't good for you
Though he may want you too
This boy wants you back again

Oh, and this boy would be happy
Just to love you, but oh my
That boy won't be happy
Til he's seen you cry

This boy wouldn't mind the pain
Would always feel the same
If this boy gets you back again

This boy
This boy
This boy."