Friday, June 30, 2017

Moving heaven, earth and house

"The key to traveling light is to not need very much."

It's beginning to look a lot like a real house. With planter boxes.
The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is a faint glimmer.

I'm nearing the end of packing up my glass and selling what I'm ready to let go of.

There are still tools to sort, clean, pack or sell, plus pixie dust, leaf and foil, some dichro, random odds and ends.

And the big items, kiln, ventilation hood, maybe torch and oxycon (but probably not).

And believe it or not, I'm still working. I'm slowly using up all the short rods on my bench, the stringer, twisties, silvered ivory and murrini.

I've had to be a bit creative there. Beads of Courage has asked for five deep-sea-themed beads that will be carried on the USS Tucson submarine. Four will be sold in fund raisers, one will become part of a permanent exhibit.

All fine, except I had no blue rods left, nor ivory rods left. I scrounged through the detritus on my table and found enough pieces of blue stringer, some sparkly blue aventurine, a partial rod of a color called Supernova that is more purple than blue but close enough. I made five fun two-tone beads with lots of raised blue dots and some blue sparkle.

I'm calling them Deep Blue Sea Urchins. That's my story.

My goal now is to run down my tank of propane. I wish I hadn't bought another backup tank, but someone will take it off my hands. I think when this tank runs out, that will be my hard stop.

I've packed a lot of my beads, but I'm going to keep a couple of trays so I can keep selling beads, maybe for another month, at least through mid-July. Sales have been tepid with the occasional good day, so it's worth keeping on for now.

We ironed out the last details on the house, initialled the last change order, and with luck we'll be able to estimate progress soon and gauge the likelihood of an August closing.

Neil has ordered a pod to be delivered in mid-July. The pod company will take it to NC and store it there until we are ready for it. We have a second pod reserved in case we need it, which I suspect we will. We still have to organize the movers for the furniture and then there is the 1,100 mile drive with the three cats to look forward to. I may die.

No, it is what it is. I will blunder through it somehow.

My daughter put her house on the market and sold it the next day. Moving is contagious. Two of our four kids are in the throes of moving houses. Three if you count Chris moving out of Laurie's house into a place to live for his last six months of school. And Chelsea mentioned wanting to move into a new place even if she and her boyfriend stay in Austin for another year.

I'm so happy about Kandace getting what she wanted for her house, full asking price, cash buyers, a 45-day leaseback option. Now she and her Chris just have to find the right house for the right price to buy. The timing may be perfect for me to be able to give her some things for her new house that I've been saving for her.

Better yet, we may all be able to get together in Austin for a mini vacation in late July, if the house things fall into place as they should. My soul needs that.

It's all still somewhat dreamlike to me. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, I still wonder if we really are doing this. That's partly because I'm not feeling all the feelings. I'm doing what needs to be done (for the most part) and waiting to see if another shoe will fall or not.

I suspect it will hit me (the feelings, not the hypothetical shoe) at some point, whether it be when we load the pod, when we sign the closing documents, when we peel out with the cats, when we finally lay down our heads in our new home, or sometime further down the line, when the new home stops feeling like a hotel or an airbnb.

I predict that if it doesn't hit me sooner, busyness will be a drug for a while as we unpack and settle in and get the stuff we need to replace the stuff we're ditching and to fill the extra square feet we're gaining.

To wit, new photos.

From the kitchen, looking through the living room with fireplace at left.
Our glorious utility room.Well, it will be a showcase when our wood cabinets, granite counter and sink are in.
Our dining room, with doors going out to our screened outdoor living area, and a view of our neighbors' pool.
According to our lender, our build is 68% complete. Almost 10 months from signing the paperwork, and two months until closing.

And just as if I'd planned it, we have reservations to be in North Carolina for the solar eclipse on August 21. That trip will nicely dovetail with our walk-through and pre-settlement orientation.

By September 1, we may actually live there.

Call the folks, leave a note, lock the doors and windows
Pack the truck, here's to luck, here's to how the wind blows
Got the cash, got the gas, now lose the map and compass
Now read the signs obey the lines, follow all your hunches
'Cause now it's just the open road
One small heart and a great big soul that's driving

Radio singing low just like a true companion
LA's lights wavy bright, they follow like a lantern
Then morning comes and desert sun rises like redemption
Another day to make your way from answer back to question
Out here on the open road
One small heart and a great big soul that's driving

No set of directions, no shortcuts
Just some empty soda cans, some cigarette butts
The key to traveling light is to not need very much

Late tonight you'll see the lights of a thousand stars above you
And at a roadside stop you'll call to talk to a voice
Back home that swears to love you
But at the sound of the tone you'll hang up the phone
And peel out of that joint
You might try again God knows when, at least they got the point
They lost you to the open road, one small heart
And a great big soul that's driving, driving
Out here on the open road
One small heart and a great big soul that's driving.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Low-biorhythmic cycling

"You do your best to keep your hand in play
And try to keep those lonesome blues at bay
You think you're winning but it's hard to say, sometimes."

In general, I am a lucky person.

I've had my struggles, sure. I've lost at love, but I've also broken hearts, not that I intended to, or that I'm proud of it.

My first marriage failed (or I failed or we failed), but I have two amazing daughters because of it.

My parents are gone, but they lived long lives, my dad's just three weeks shy of 90 year, my mom's 90 years and a few months.

I've done time on the ocean floor, thanks to a lover who left me, but I've been in a stable, happy relationship with my best friend since 2002, married to him since 2008.

So when I say that I've had some low-biorhythmic episodes lately, I assure you it's all small stuff.

I'll talk about it anyway. Because that's how I roll.

I've just about resigned myself to not selling any beads. I took 10 days off from listing after a trunk show where I had a total of five sales, after I spent $20 for a sponsored ad on Facebook. I should know better. All my sales were to regular customers, so I can safely say the ad did nothing.

Then one of the customers who won two sets asked me to etch them. I've done this before for her but I wasn't planning to do any tumbling any time soon. I said no and she backed out of the sale. So, I did it after all, because $36.

An Etsy shopper asked me for a custom set of four beads, similar to one on one of my beaded keys that she found in my sold items. I gave her a price, she said go ahead, I made the beads. Came back to a message, please cancel this request.

My original sold beaded key.

I pretended that I didn't see that note. I wrote, I made your beads this morning and they came out really nicely. I'll send you a photo. I did send a photo and set up a reserved listing and I was surprised that she bought the beads. But then of course she got them and said they looked darker in real life. She had made one up into a suncatcher and she sent a photo.
Suncatcher with new custom order bead.

She didn't match the bead well, but she specifically asked for medium transparent blue and that is what I made for her.

Again, I didn't respond to the criticism. I said, Wow! Your dragonfly looks awesome! If we weren't moving this summer, I'd want to buy one.

Then she sent me a photo of another artist's bead and asked if I could make her some like it. I should have said no on principle. But any sale is welcome at the moment and it was a dot pattern I have made before myself. So I priced it and she decided to wait. Just as well. Some customers are hinky and best avoided, sale or no sale.

I contacted Beads of Courage last week about payment for the beads I sent in April. The coordinator was apologetic and promised I was first in line for payment. Nothing yet. I will give it another day or two and then send photos of the new 100 pairs and ask again. I know I will get paid and I'm not taking money out of my mouth by sending these beads off to BOC instead of listing them. If they were selling steadily it might be different.

I'm almost though washing and bundling all my glass. Two more days and the shelves will be bare. I still have all the glass on my bench, tools murrini, dichro and assorted oddments to pack or queue up for sale.

More from the low biorhythm archives, I'd received a $25 gift card to Pei-Wei, a place I don't especially care for. Neil likes it though, so we ordered dinner online for pickup. Neil took the card to pay and the card was declined.

Neil and I debated what to do. Neil wanted to let the giver know. I suspected the card was a regift and that for $25 it wasn't worth making the giver feel badly and worse, obligated to give another gift. I wanted to let it go. I finally said, ask Laurie what she would do. Laurie felt the same way I did, so we let it go.

At least the sushi rolls were delicious.

In other news, we had a nice visit with Kandace, Ry and Chris this weekend. My boy is 5 years old. We had some nice dinners, a fun visit to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. And of course, birthday cake.

Lucky at love, well maybe so
There's still a lot of things you'll never know
Like why each time the sky begins to snow, you cry

You're faithful to her in your careless way
And so you miss her when she's far away
But every time you think you've got it straight, you fall

You face the future with a weary past
Those dreams you banked upon are fading fast
You know you love her, but it may not last, you fear

It's never easy and it's never clear
Who's to navigate and who's to steer
And so you flounder, drifting ever near the rocks

It's hard to say where love went wrong
It's hard to say just when (it's so hard to say)
It's hard to walk away from love
It may never come again

You do your best to keep your hand in play
And try to keep those lonesome blues at bay
You think you're winning but it's hard to say, sometimes

It's hard to say where love went wrong
It's hard to say just when (it's so hard to say)
It's hard to walk away from love
It may never come again

Lucky at love, well maybe so
There's still a lot of things you'll never know
Like why each time the sky begins to snow, you cry
Well, you cry
Oh, you still have to cry.

Dan Fogelberg

Monday, June 5, 2017

Packed not packed

"I am memory and stillness, I am lonely in old age
I am not your destination, I am clinging to my ways
I am a town."

As conflicted as I am about moving, packing has become an addiction.

Getting started has always been the hardest part for me.

My bead collection is packed, every bead tissue wrapped and tucked into plastic shoebox sized containers which were then placed in sturdy file boxes and stabilized with filler items.

It's a lot like doing a puzzle, finding things the right size and shape to fit in the boxes and provide insulation.

A lot of my glass is packed that way too, bubble wrapped, in stacking trays that just fit into the file boxes with room on the side for miscellaneous lightweight buffer items.

I'll be packing a lot of sweaters, pillows, towels and other soft stuff to keep my glass safe and whole.

I've worked through at least 75 percent of my glass stash to the extent that it's washed and bundled but not yet all boxed. Some is queued up to be sold.

I've already sold dozens of pounds of glass. I've gone through at least 20 cubic feet of packing peanuts and scores of boxes, rolls and rolls of bubble wrap and shrink wrap.

Beads sales have been slow but steady sales of glass have compensated in terms of cash flow and constant trips to the post office.

For the most part I'm not losing any money on the glass. I price it at a price that if it sells it sells and if not I get to keep it so I really don't care. Mostly it sells.

I'm probably not making much of a profit, when you take into account PayPal fees and all the costs of shipping, but I don't need all the glass I have, the cost is sunk, and I know I got some pretty good deals on some of it, so even selling production colors for the going rate is probably not a loss for me.

I need to push through the last 25 percent of my glass, but I've turned my attention to my frit stash for the time being. So far I'm just selling frit I've accumulated from vendors over the years.

I'm not yet sure what I'm doing with my frit business, especially the raw materials for my own blends. Part of me is tempted to shut down the frit business and sell off the colors I use to mix my blends. I've toyed with trying to sell the recipes or the business itself, but it's called Elizabeth Beads Frit and I wouldn't want anyone doing a rubbish job of keeping it keeping on.

The alternative is to put some time and attention into it. I need to make new sample beads and take better photos for all 24 blends. I need to reorder single colors for the blend I am out of stock on. I need to create a Facebook group to promote and sell my blends.

At the beginning I had so much enthusiasm for the business, experimenting and coming up with new blends, but somehow I lost my mojo for frit. I don't love making frit beads the way I love making dot beads, for instance. This summer, especially once I have to shut down the torch, would be a good time to put a little effort into marketing my brand. If I set myself the task of at least making test beads for the blends before I close down the hot shop, I can work on the rest, at least until I have to pack my camera and computer.

It's a good plan and I'm mulling it over.

Beads of Courage ordered another hundred pairs of beads from me and I've already got most of them done or pulled from inventory. I'm just waiting a bit longer to send them as I haven't yet been paid for the 130 bead pairs I mailed on April 28. BOC is always slow to pay and often I have to remind them. April 9 will be six weeks, I'll plan to ask then.

In the meantime, we're living in boxland here. Neil has been packing just about everything that isn't nailed down or clearly mine. If it's mine he asks first. Usually. I'm clinging to keeping a few things in place so it still feels like home or something like home.

We got some new photos of the house from the lender and not much has happened since we were there except that more bricks have been applied. Damn, I really do love the brick color.

It makes me happy that it looks less like the house will be done early and more like our mid-August closing date might slip.

I know at some point it's probably better to get the move behind us and put an end to the anxiety and trepidation. As I said, I'm torn. I love it here but I've committed to go, so I might as well make the best of it.

One thing that gives me pause is when Neil complains about some aspect of the new house. We are losing some things. We won't have out lovely built-ins, but we can buy furniture and shelving to fill the gap. We are losing closet space, including separate master bedroom closets, but we've customized a compromise with lots of shelving and a divider island. We'll have a nice dining area, but not both a breakfast room and dining room. And every time Neil grumbles about one of these things or another, I tell him that I need him to stay 100 percent positive to keep me buoyed up.

Really, I'm not feeling too disquieted. I'm not feeling, period. I'm going with the flow, letting it happen. Accentuating the positive even. Planning furniture placement, picking out lighting, changing my mind, picking out lighting again. Eating, sleeping, walking on the treadmill, binge watching crime drama. The usual.

I finished rewatching Lost. I enjoyed it, maybe even more this time. I'd forgotten enough to keep it interesting. I was still shocked when Michael shot Ana Lucia and Libby. I picked up nuances that escaped me the first time. I appreciated how the producers circled back to things in earlier episodes, and I wondered how far out they'd storyboarded the plot and how much was inspired back-planning.

I loved many of the same scenes I loved the first time, Bernard and Rose retired and living on the beach, Jin meeting Rousseau as a girl, Juliet drinking on the shore after the tanker blew up, Sawyer convincing her to give him two weeks to change her mind about staying, Hurley using the VW Van to take out the bad guys, Desmond, well just about everything about Desmond. I loved how when Juliet made the hydrogen bomb explode, the letters Lost came up in black on white, rather than the characteristic white on black.

The ending was still the ending, but at least this time I knew it was coming and I didn't get into a blue funk for days, like I did the first time. I did have a little bit of withdrawal, since I'd been watching two or three episodes most days for the last month or two. But I move on. Onto the most recent episodes of Jack Taylor at the moment.

Oh, I'm taking a little break from selling beads on Facebook. Today was the first day and it felt good. Hypothetically this will free up some of my time.

So you'll be hearing from me more. At least that's the plan.

I'm a town in Carolina, I'm a detour on a ride
For a phone call and a soda, I'm a blur from the driver's side
I'm the last gas for an hour if you're going 25
I am Texaco and tobacco, I am dust you leave behind

I am peaches in September, and corn from a roadside stall
I'm the language of the natives, I'm a cadence and a drawl
I'm the pines behind the graveyard, and the cool beneath their shade
Where the boys have left their beer cans, I am weeds between the graves

My porches sag and lean with old black men and children
My sleep is filled with dreams, I never can fulfill them
I am a town.

I'm a church beside the highway, where the ditches never drain
I'm a Baptist like my daddy, and Jesus knows my name
I am memory and stillness, I am lonely in old age
I am not your destination, I am clinging to my ways
I am a town

I'm a town in Carolina, I am billboards in the fields
I'm an old truck up on cinder blocks, missing all my wheels
I am Pabst Blue Ribbon, American, and Southern Serves the South
I am tucked behind the Jaycees' sign, on the rural route
I am a town
I am a town
I am a town

(Mary Chapin Carpenter)