Saturday, May 9, 2015

Vacuum abhorrence

"And when we find ourselves in the place just right, 'twill be in the valley of love and delight."

Life itself apparently abhors a vacuum.

At the end of last year, I decided to reset my priorities and by eliminating some of the many activities I'd taken on, free up some time to focus on the most important ones - and also have more time to just be.

So, after three and a half years of taking art classes at Glassell, I didn't sign up for the spring semester.

After a year of online classes at ColgateX, I didn't enroll in another class.

I'm not volunteering with Animal Services at this time. That actually came to an end last summer, when I didn't get Charlotte, but I got Biscotti. It really had more to do with the way I no longer felt welcome, after the cat bite incident.

When the new shelter is built I may give it another go. It would be a fresh start so to speak.

I also resigned my position as contributing editor for Glass Bead Evolution. No more quarterly articles hanging over me.

In the meantime, beads, Facebook, and fitness have taken over my time. All my time. I don't take time to read. I don't take time to write. I don't have a whit more time than I had when I was doing all those other things.

My day goes like this. Wake up. Have coffee. Check email and Facebook. Bump my 1 pm auctions. Wrap beads to ship.

Make beads. Edit photos. Start the next round of auctions. Bump my 5 pm auctions.

Change, snack, go to fitness center, walk on the treadmill for an hour. Right now I'm watching Season 2 of Grimm.

Go to Post Office. Come home, take bath. Start the next round of auctions. About this time Neil gets home, unless he has to go directly to softball.

Fix dinner, clean up. Neil reads to me and the cats. We are about a third of the way through the second Harry Potter book. Try to stay awake.

Watch some TV with Neil. Try to stay awake, Check auctions before bed. Update any auctions that have sold by Buy-it-Now.

Sleep. Rinse. Repeat.

I never seem to run out of ideas and inspiration for new beads. I'm doing a new series of focals with dots and feathers. As typical, I thought there'd be an embracing response and the first few I listed drew little interest and no sales. Since then, I have sold a couple and I do think they are getting better.

I promised myself that I'd make what I want to make and stop measuring my artistic worth by whether or not my work sells on Facebook.

Every time I go a day without a sale, which isn't really that often, I rush to judgment that the cash cow has died. That cow has more lives than a cat. It has an amazing will to live so far.

We got the kiln fixed. That was a fiasco. I called Paragon and explained that I needed a new insulation block for the left hand door as I faced the kiln. The insulation block had come loose and tryng to the bolts had ony chewed a big hole in the block.

I paid a ridiculous amount ($55 plus $15 shipping). A huge box came, full of shredded paper (the heaviest type of padding) and inside was ... an entire right hand kiln door.Not only was it the wrong door, but the doors on my model are welded on and not easily changed out. And of course the box came on Friday after Paragon closed for the weekend.''

On Monday I sent the above photos of my kiln and the door I'd received, and spoke to the person who'd helped me. She said she'd send me out the insulation block and a $13 refund (and to keep the right hand door). Then she sent me a note saying there would be no refund. I said, in that case, I'd like an entire left hand door, and I'd be happy to return the right hand door - on Paragon's dime, since it was their mistake.

Turns out the price I was charged was the price for the insulation alone, the door actually cost more than I'd been charged. I started to research the cost of kiln insulation, something I'd have thought would cost about $10. Then I decided it wasn't worth my time and to just chalk it up to ... not experience. Idiocy maybe.

Because don't you know, I had the brilliant idea of just removing the screwed up insulation and flipping it over. Neil did just that and it worked perfectly. He did used the bolts and nuts from the new door. So my kiln now sports new $70 nuts and bolts.

Speaking of Neil. That elephant sat in the room for a couple of days after he got home. I finally said, is there an elephant in this room that we need to talk about? So we did talk about it, and I wouldn't say I liked the way the conversation went. Neil owned no remorse for yelling and thought if anyone owed anyone an apology, it was me for asking him to do anything late at night.

Sometimes you can't win. I wanted to ask him, do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? Then I decided I'd rather be happy than right, so I let it go. Talking about it wasn't satisfying but it allowed us to move past it.

At one point he asked, what do you want from me, and I said, I want you to talk about your feelings. That cracked us both up. Laughter is very healing.

In other news, I did just sign up for a sort of mini-version of an online class. Greeks at War: Homer at Troy. "Gain a broad-based understanding of warfare in ancient Greece through Homer’s account of the Trojan War in the Iliad." That's the subtitle or description. It's just a six week course. We're not reading the entire Iliad. There are excerpts recotmmended for many of the modules, but since I read the whole thing once, I'm counting the reading as done.

The class is taught by a Colgate professor, Robert Garland, but it's a MOOC on EdX so the "students" are not necessarily connected to Colgate in any way, and at a guess most are not. With enrollment in the thousands and more than 100 countries represented, it lacks the intimacy of the classes I took before.

It is sort of interesting that this course is based on an epic poem and is about war. I was an English major. I've taken one literature course on ColgateX and one course on the advent of the atom bomb, i.e. war. This course is focused less on the literary merits of the Iliad and more on how the experience of was is both "particular and universal." Here is how Professor Garland summed up the course objectives.
This course will balance the universal with the particular. It will give a sense of what the Trojan War, as seen through the eyes of Homer, was all about, that is to say, both (a) what made it unique, and (b) what links the experience of that war to men and women serving their country today, and to men and men women caught up in the crossfire as civilians today. Among the topics that we will explore are leave­taking, b​attle fatigue, the relationship between combatants and civilians, post­traumatic stress injury, the army’s command structure, why people go to war, how soldiers view the enemy, the rewards system, insubordination, comradeship, hand­to­hand combat, time out, disposing of the dead, war guilt, and homecoming.
This is week two. I've completed the video lectures, which are interesting, and looked at the discussion boards, but haven't found anything to say yet. I did notice there is not much dialog taking place. People are posting their responses to the prompt questions or just posting their thoughts, but it's not a conversation, it's just people posting their personal takes.

I do want to try to get a little involved in the discussions. I'm going to set myself a goal of posting something this week.

I'll report back. As I'm sure you know.

My newest beads. I'm pretty pumped about them, whether or not anyone else is.

"'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight

When true simplicity is gained
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed
To turn, turn will be our delight
'Til by turning, turning we come 'round right."

(Joseph Brackett, 1848)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz