Sunday, April 30, 2017

The light at the beginning of the tunnel

"I can't see the stars anymore living here
Let's go to the hills where the outlines are clear."

How many Scandinavian-Germans does it take to change a light bulb?

Just one. If it's Neil.

Neil may have figured out the best way to drive me out of this house, Sugar Land and Texas.

He's been replacing light bulbs throughout the house with LED bulbs.

We had a realtor over to talk about what we would need to do to get this house ready for sale. For the most part, she advised doing very little and leaving repairs as negotiating points.

She did think we needed to have the carpet stretched, repaired and cleaned, and the paint touched up. And she was very particular about the lighting, especially making sure the bulbs within a room matched.

Part of the service she would provide (if we choose her) is to make a video of the house and apparently an unmatched light bulb stands out like a glaring mistake.

She also recommended brighter lighting in some areas and Neil took it to the extreme, buying daylight white light bulbs. He went with the same wattage we had but apparently all wattage isn't the same and in fact it is lumens that matter most. In some places the light is now distractingly brilliant. Looking down the hall to the game room at midnight, you'd really think there was daylight streaming in. It's that sunlit bright.

I hate it. It makes me feel not at home in my home. Which may not be all bad. I get overly attached to comfort zones.

I did ask him to change the bathroom lights to soft white, which I concede might be an improvement over the yellowish light we had in place. Light that never had bothered me before. But I don't notice things like that. I have familiarity blindness.

LED light are pricey, and one weird thing is that the smaller ones cost more than the larger. Since we are leaving, it is tempting to get the less expensive larger ones, that are just a little bit more obnoxiously blinding. I'm not sure it will be a good selling point though.

The LED lights also put out less heat and naturally, now that we've a couple of feet out the door, we'll notice a new degree of comfort in both the temperature of the house and the electric bill.

The brighter lights and cooler temps already are making Neil like it more here, inside the house at least, just as they are making me feel less at home.

While Neil has been busy filling boxes and researching activities in our home-state-to-be, I've been splitting my time between business as usual and washing my glass, sorting it and selling some of it.

I just finished a project for Beads of Courage - 50 pairs of orange and black beads, with just a little white on some. I was 3/4 finished when I got approval to use some white, but once I found an orange that was saturated enough to pop on black I was OK with the two-color scheme. I made these in four torch sessions.


BOC also asked for more Carry-a-Bead pairs. I pulled most of these out of inventory, choosing the ones with colors I think kids would like.


I also agreed to make another Captain America shield but I had to order more star murrini. I wasn't happy with my first attempts using murrini I had on hand.

Beads have been selling, not as fast as I am still making them, but enough for me to stay out of the slough of despond. I've been playing with this new style, which so far hasn't been a hit, but I've sold more sets of pairs and some of my signature encased silver glass beads. Still, I'm having some fun with it and have some ideas to improve it.



Neil is headed out to visit family for a few days, so I will have some guilt-free torch time. Yesterday, I ran out of propane and hooked up the backup tank. I pondered whether this will be the last tank I use before I shut things down here or if I should get one more. Neil thought I should get one more. I probably will. Even if my current tank lasts through most of May, for $20 I'd rather leave a full tank behind (or give it to a friend) than to run out and have to stop sooner than I planned.

When Neil gets back, we'll be making a trip to NC, possibly the last trip before the house is finished. We'll be choosing our granite slabs, designing our master closet, making decisions about landscaping, and taking another look at dining room light fixtures. I'll be interested to see how my studio is shaping up.

Even if we follow our move plan and it all goes down without a hitch, I expect there will be at least a three-month hiatus from bead making for me. I'm going to try to look at it as an opportunity to recharge, a little creative respite for the muse. Maybe my muse will get bored with the lack of creative output and find true purpose in the new digs. Which would be, of course, dictating to me on a regular basis.

I'll be happy if she deigns to come along for the ride and show up there at least as often as she elects to come around now. As always, I stand at her mercy.


I can't see the stars anymore living here
Let's go to the hills where the outlines are clear
Bring on the wonder
Bring on the song
I pushed you down deep in my soul for too long

I fell through the cracks at the end of our street
Let's go to the beach get the sand through our feet
Bring on the wonder
Bring on the song
I pushed you down deep in my soul for too long
Bring on the wonder
We got it all wrong
We pushed you down deep in our souls for too long

I don't have the time for a drink from the cup
Let's rest for a while til our souls catch us up
Bring on the wonder
Bring on the song
I pushed you down deep in my soul for too long
Bring on the wonder
We got it all wrong
We pushed you down deep in our souls, so hang on
Bring on the wonder
Bring on the song
I pushed you down deep in my soul for too long.


(Sarah McLachlan)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Letting go and rolling with it

"I've walked upon the moors on many misguided tours
Where Emily, Anne and Charlotte poured their hearts out
And what did they know, what could they know about love?"

It's not without mixed feelings that I have started work on dismantling my glass studio.

I hope to be able to make beads through the month of May, but I'm starting to slowly sort through my glass, wash it, wash some of the bins, and sort out what to keep and what to sell.

So far I'm scratching the surface but getting started may have been the hardest part and I've done that.

For starters, I washed more than 17 lbs. of Bullseye glass rods. Neil took notes as I weighed it and noted the number of rods of each color.

That's about 1/3 of my stash of Bullseye. It didn't take as long as I would have predicted and better yet, it made me feel motivated to keep going.

House painters are working on the exterior paint so I can't make beads for a couple of days. I'm hoping to finish cleaning and inventorying the Bullseye and start putting most of it up for sale.

Right now I am selling some of my Lauscha. I plan to keep most of it, but the more I sell the more I feel like I can let go. It's a slow process. I have 12 lots listed and I can't overwhelm myself by listing more than that at once.

Luckily so far, most buyers have bought multiple lots so I haven't had to ship too many separate boxes. I did order more free boxes from the USPS. They'll come in the mail - haha.

It's funny, as I start letting go of things, it gets easier to let go of more things. Maybe it's the feeling of relief as I make the decision and my load gets a fragment lighter.

There is still an impressive way to go, but knowing I can give things up and the world keeps turning makes me optimistic that it all will eventually get done. Of course it will.

That doesn't mean I don't cry myself to sleep some nights. That doesn't mean I don't keep rebuffing Neil's offers to pack up my books or  collectibles with a "not yet."

We did make a timeline and some decisions about the hows. We think this is how it might work. All this assumes a mid-August closing.

In early August. pack a pod with boxes and small furniture items. I think my glass will travel this way. Have it picked up and stored.

A few days before closing, have the movers come for the furniture. Leave the furniture we aren't taking including a bed, sofa beds, some cookware, etc.

Fly to NC for the closing. Arrange for pod and furniture to arrive. Unload.

Fly home, load up my SUV with sundries and drive the cats to NC. Settle in.

Have some work completed on the house here. Put it on the market.

When the house sells, fly back for closing and to donate or dispose of any items still in the house.

Fly back to NC. Neil may drive his car back. Or he may give it to Chris and fly back.

I may not even need to be part of the last trip, but depending on timing - i.e, how long it takes for our house to sell - it might be a good time to visit our kids.

And since I started this post we've washed and inventoried more of the Bullseye. Maybe 3/4 of it.

It's a lot. And selling it will be a bugger bear. The way to get the most for it is to auction it in small lots of colors, a mix of the great and the good - because it's at least all good. If I price it and offer the inventory, I risk people cherry-picking the best colors and being stuck with the rest.

In my dreams, I'd love to sell it as one lot and have someone pick it up. Someone who has about $2,000 to spend. And it would be a bargain at that price.

It might be worth a try before I break it all up.

I've been really worried about packing the glass I'm keeping, but Neil put it into perspective. I could probably replace all of it for what it would cost if we paid a mover to pack it and move it. So except for the out-of-production colors, I'm just going to do a reasonable packing job and pod it and take my chances.

I'll take more care with the special colors that can't easily be replaced.

Then there is my collection of other artists' beads. It's more precious to me than the glass but easier to pack safely. They may go in the car with us.

As for my own beads, I will pack and pod them and plan to donate many of them in 2018. They won't be too hard to pack, just time consuming. Still I'll have all of June and July to do it, especially since I am on a roll with the glass and my goal is to finish washing it and sorting it by the end of May.

All right, a goal is just a goal. It's flexible.

But somehow it's taken me so long to finish this post that we finished the Bullseye gig. 53 lbs. 900 rods.

First down and ten. Rinse and repeat.


I could say, I could say
Say it again Kate
Love, love, love

I could say love over and over and over
I could say baby baby baby
Til my tongue spirals out of my head
When there's no one looking over my shoulder
I like to write rock and roll
But it doesn't always hang together
So what do I know
Or anyone know about love

You ask me how I feel
I said my heart was like a wheel
Why don't you listen to it sometime
I've walked upon the moors
On many misguided tours
Where Emily, Anne and Charlotte
Poured their hearts out
And what did they know
What could they know about love
And what did they know
Or anyone know about love

I could say love over and over and over
I could say baby baby baby
And make you think I mean it maybe
I'm going up a hill rolling a boulder
Trying to write rock and roll
But it doesn't keep body and soul together
So what do I know
Or anyone know about love

You ask me how I feel
I said my heart was like a wheel
Why don't you listen to it sometime
I've walked upon the moors
On many misguided tours
Where Emily, Anne and Charlotte
Poured their hearts out
And what did they know
What could they know about love
And what did they know
Or anyone know about love.

(Kate McGarrigle, Anna McGarrigle)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

From sticks and bones, a house begins to emerge

"Tell me how does your light shine
In the halls of Shambala."

Our house in North Carolina was 24 percent complete as of March 31, according to an inspection report provided by our lender.



This is a view from the back of the house of the basement and beginning of the first floor. My studio is to the left. There will be sliding glass doors in the opening. To the right, the room with 8 window openings is the basement great room. There will be a similar living room above, and the dining room will be above the studio.


This is shot from the front toward the left side of the house. You can see two of the master bedroom windows and the master bathroom window. The open area in the foreground on the right is the beginning of our garage.

And a few more random photos. You guess is almost as good as mine.



It is getting really real.

I've been continuing to deal with it mostly by playing ostrich, but that time is coming to an end. Neil and I have gone through about 90 percent of the kitchen cabinets and culled a boatload of stuff to haul to goodwill, including at least 30 coffee mugs. We've also tackled the linen closet upstairs and gotten it down to a sensible number of sheets and towels.

I've gone as far as mentally assessing how much glass and beads I have and possible ways to safely pack them.

On a recent walk, these words came out of Neil's mouth. I think I'll stop playing softball when the next league ends in June until after we move. I said, who are you and what did you do with my husband?

After some reflection though, these words came out of my mouth. I have a trunk show the first weekend in June and after that I think I'll stop making beads until after we move.

My plan is to dismantle my studio and sell off some of the larger pieces of equipment, definitely the ventilation hood, maybe the kiln and oxygen concentrator and torch. Most of my equipment is almost 9 years old. It makes more sense to buy new equipment than to pay to move the old. Writing off the cost of new equipment in 2017 makes sense, since it is likely to be our highest tax year ever.

I love my torch but I don't use it to its full capacity. I rarely run the outer ring and the inner ring is a Cricket, which is the new torch I'd buy. I might as well sell off my boro. I always think I may want to play with it again but on any given day I never really feel like doing it. Boro is great for sculptural work, less so for beads, and beads are where my passion lies. People do make beads with boro but a different style which is more about heat chemistry and less about design. The colors can be magical but I love the versatility of soft glass.

I really don't need the heat of the four-stud Scorpion for the kind of lampwork I do.

I've been selling off some of my glass, although I have so much I'm barely making a dent, especially since at the same time I am still buying a little glass. New colors tempt me, as well as reasonable prices on older stock of some colors that are nicer than the current stock. It's just such a headache to ship glass. Beads are so easy to ship by comparison.

All of which begs the question of whether, if I made beads nonstop for the next ten years, I could turn the glass I currently own into beads.

I like having it though. I like knowing it is there. I like looking at it. I like pulling a rod of a go-to premium color such as opal yellow and knowing that I won't run out. I like owning a stash of colors that you can't buy today except at high prices on the secondary market if you happen to come across someone selling some.

Yeah, I know, my kids one day will donate it to a glass school or charity or give it away. But I can't worry about everything and I'm not dead yet.

And this just in - more house photos. Progress is running rampant now.


This is the front view, taken from the little park across the street, early in the morning. I love having morning light at the back of the house where the master bedroom, living areas and my studio will be.


This is taken from the front, to the left facing the house and our three car garage, with our master bathroom and bedroom windows toward the back.


View facting the house from the front and to the right.. The two windows on the right are the study, the windows above are a guest bedroom and the bonus room, where I will have my treadmill and a TV of my own.


And the back of the house again, with outdoor living (screened-in porch), living room and master box bay window on the main floor, more guest bedooms upstairs. I might make the back bedroom a sitting room, with a sleep sofa for guests. It's too nice a space to languish largely unused. The basement living room windows and box bay windows are not visible yet - but soon will be.

And with that, I'll leave you to contemplate (or not) my future digs and whether (or not) a house makes a home.


Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain
With the rain in Shambala
Wash away my sorrow, wash away my shame
With the rain in Shambala

Ah, ooh, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Ah, ooh, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Everyone is helpful, everyone is kind
On the road to Shambala
Everyone is lucky, everyone is so kind
On the road to Shambala

How does your light shine
In the halls of Shambala
How does your light shine
In the halls of Shambala

I can tell my sister by the flowers in her eyes
On the road to Shambala
I can tell my brother by the flowers in his eyes
On the road to Shambala

How does your light shine
In the halls of Shambala
Tell me how does your light shine
In the halls of Shambala

Ah, ooh, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Ah, ooh, yeah
On the road to Shambala.

(Daniel Moore. Covered by Three Dog Night.)