Thursday, January 31, 2019

Local Acting

Now with the wisdom of years, I try to reason things out
And the only people I fear are those who never have doubts

Time keeps flying by.

I took most of the month off from selling beads. Well, to be more accurate, Beads of Courage asked me for another 150 pairs and I actually got to sit down and make them, most of them, after pulling what I could from inventory. Then I had a couple of orders from one of my regular customers, another 80 beads.

Also, on my first day of ceramics class after the holiday break, I found out that there is a show called Home Grown for local artists. An entry could be any media, but the deadline was exactly one week away. So I spent several days stressing about whether to enter, and if I did, how to best showcase some of my beads, because one bead wouldn't be much of an entry for an art show.

I kicked it around with my ceramics teacher, who came by with her daughter to watch me make beads. Before the holidays I traded a bunch of my beads for a bunch of my teacher's ceramic work. She wanted the beads for her daughter who likes to make jewelry. Her daughter is about the same age as mine, but has some sort of developmental disability. They were both interested in seeing how I made my beads.

My teacher encouraged me to put a piece in the show. In the end I decided to make a simple necklace, with a heart focal and 40 of my little dot beads, all strung of a leather cord with ceramic disk spacers. I wanted it to be as authentic as could be, so I didn’t use Czech beads or a purchased clasp like I usually would.

Then there was the problem of presentation. I didn’t want to just hand it over. It’s too fragile for a pedestal, and I could just imagine someone knocking it over and having it come apart or having beads shatter. I did a lot of mental gyrations trying to figure out a frame to mount it on. I wound up going to Home Goods and buying a shadow box and using straight pins to affix the necklace to the backing cloth. It isn’t perfect but I got it done in time to submit it.

During the same week I was also stressing about my knitting class. I'd signed up for a mitten class using a two color fair isle style pattern at a local shop. The homework was to cast on using double-pointed needles and to knit the first nine rows. My first try was a disaster, but I managed to do it well enough on the second try to call it good enough. I was still a bit worried about the class. The prerequisite was having experience with DPNs, and as you know, I've only just relearned how to cast on. I haven't even knit a scarf yet.

I showed up early for the class. The teaching space is just a table in the shop. There were eight seats. I met the teacher and asked where she was sitting. She said she'd be walking around as it was a full class. I chose my seat. I said, I'm just learning to knit. The teacher acted shocked. She said, this isn't a beginner class. I said, I managed to do the homework. I said, I'll do my best to keep up, and if I can't, I'll just watch.

As it turned out, I didn't have much trouble at all. The class was mostly about reading the color chart and that wasn't rocket science, although repeating the 10 stitched four times seemed to boggle the mind of at least one other woman. I did have some trouble controlling my needles. One kept slipping out. The teacher suggested I try wooden needles instead of the metal ones I'd gotten from Amazon. So I paid twice as much for a set from the shop and it really did make a difference.

When I got home, I ripped out everything and started over. During the week, I finished the patterned part of the mitts. Both of them. I was kind of stuck on the next step, the thumb gusset. But that's what the second class was for, right? I've almost finished both mittens now.


So all this to say, I've been busy. Too busy to spend much time making beads and definitely too busy to sell them online. I've decided not to work it as hard as I have been for the last few years. I did list a few beads in the last week and had some bids and purchases. So I may continue to list them as time allows, but I'm not going to flog the horse very much. If they sell, great. If they don't, I'll stop listing again. I'll hope that Beads of Courage will continue to buy them, and I'll have inventory when and if.

This time of year is when I usually have my physical tuneup, so to speak. I've been to the dentist, and I'm getting a new night guard, so I'll be going back for that. I had my annual eye exam, and I'm really excited about new glasses, both for vision reasons and because I haven't liked the glasses I've worn this past year. Not only are they not especially flattering, the frames keep chipping. Neil has touched them up with a sharpie, several times. I am very much looking forward to my new ones.

I can hear my mom's voice in my mind. Vanity, thy name is woman, she'd say.

I'm well due for a hair trim and maybe some fun color. I've come to love my hair, but some shaping and new ends are in order. I don't miss the tyranny of monthly color and cuts, but twice a year or so seems reasonable. I've also gone au naturale with my nails, but suddenly I'm craving a pedicure. No point in getting a manicure as long as I'm taking ceramics. I do well to keep my hands from drying out an getting those little painful skin cracks. Plus nails get in the way when you are trying to smooth a clay seam or score and slip pieces together.

In other news, we're doing all the usual. Smoothies on Fridays. Watching a lot of PBS, rewatching the Upstairs Downstairs (the sequel). Reading The Attenbury Emeralds together, and I'm reading Pippa Passes by Rumer Godden myself. Playing trivia games with Alexa. We are killing Jeopardy.

I finished my wall hanging, which in a way was a prototype for the wall hanging I want to make for the bonus room, where we usually watch TV and I walk on the treadmill. I crocheted it to a curtain rod and Neil hung it in the bedroom.


I'm pleased with the way it turned out and looking forward to starting the next one. I've been collecting yarn specifically for that one.

I'm still buying yarn, but not as much as I was. I started another blanket while I was waiting for other yarn to come so that I could start the next scarf on my list, and now I'm caught up in the blanket. I'm using an assortment of colors from my stash and I am learning so much about different weights and fibers that way. I find it strangely hard to dip into my stash, because if I use the colors then I won't have them any more, if that makes sense. Already I've alternately regretted buying so much of certain brands and blends, and falling in love with certain others to the degree that I'm searching the internet to find more of an elusive color.

Neil continues to be a news junkie and suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome. He obsesses about candidates for the 2020 presidential election until I say that my brain will explode if we talk about it any more. I have a cynical attitude because if Trump won once when it seemed so impossible, he could win again easily. But mostly it's way to soon for me to spin my wheels worrying about it. I tell Neil he needs to get a job to take his mind off things. I tell him he is good at cursing the darkness. I tell him to get involved in local politics.

Act locally. That's my new motto. Accept the things you cannot change. It's all small stuff. Don't pet the sweaty things. Above all, bloom where you are planted.

So that's the scoop


Some things were perfectly clear, seen with the vision of youth
No doubts and nothing to fear, I claimed the corner on truth
These days it's harder to say, I know what I'm fighting for
My faith is falling away, I'm not that sure anymore

Shades of grey wherever I go
The more I find out the less that I know
Black and white is how it should be
But shades of grey are the colors I see

Once there were trenches and walls, and one point of every view
Fight 'til the other man falls, kill him before he kills you
These days the edges are blurred, I'm old and tired of war
I hear the other man's words, I'm not that sure anymore

Shades of grey are all that I find
When I look to the enemy line
Black and white was so easy for me
But shades of grey are the colors I see

Now with the wisdom of years, I try to reason things out
And the only people I fear are those who never have doubts
Save us all from arrogant men, and all the causes they're for
I won't be righteous again, I'm not that sure anymore

Shades of grey are all that I find
When I look to the enemy line
There ain't no rainbows shining on me
Shades of grey are the colors I see

Shades of grey wherever I go
The more I find out the less that I know
There ain't no rainbows shining on me
Shades of grey are the colors I see


(Billy Joel © Universal Music Publishing Group)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Golden age

Hey farmer, farmer, put away that DDT now
Give me spots on my apples, but leave me the birds and the bees
Please.

The clusterfluke that is our government du jour aside, I believe we are living in a golden bubble.

By which I mean to say that I am. I am living in a golden bubble. I can speak only for myself.

And by golden bubble I mean that I have everything I need at this ten seconds of the universe's unfolding.

Moreover, I am living my life as I choose. I don't have to work for my living. I only have to live.

And I don't foresee this changing. Whatever time I have left on this planet, which I estimate to be another 20 to 30 years if all goes well, all I have to do is to keep living.

Keep getting up in the morning, filling my days with the things I love, going to bed at night, and doing it all again the next day. One day at a time.

For me, right this minute, that means I am typing this in my sunny bedroom office. I just finished making a round of beads. In a little while I will make another cup of coffee and crochet a few rows on my current work in progress. I will walk on the treadmill for 50 minutes and finish the Netflix series I am watching. Later Neil will read to me, we'll fix dinner, we'll watch another show or two, I'll crochet a bit more, then take a bath and read until it's time to go to sleep.

There's a bigger picture though.I really believe we are living in a golden age, and at the same time I believe we are killing our planet. The oceans are continuing to warm. Species are going extinct. Men continue to go to war with each other. People continue to procreate.

When I was born, the world's population was 2,724,302,468, give or take. Today it is 7,714,576,923 or thereabouts. You can do the math.

We're ravishing our resources. We're exhausting fossil fuels, while spending more money on space exploration than on alternative energy.

And don't tell me we will be building a colony in space. We can't even figure out how to live on our planet long-term, we don't deserve to screw up another world.

And look, if we don't engineer our own demise, geological history tells us that something eventually will. If it isn't a nuclear weapon, it might be an asteroid hitting earth, or the Yellowstone caldera erupting. There have been ice ages before, mass eradication of life such as it was, and I'd not take it for granted that there won't be another. Others.

I think how far we have come. Simple comforts such as indoor plumbing and lighting are mere zygotes in geologic time. We have antibiotics, miracle drugs to combat our ills, but we are spending little on research for alternatives while earthly bacteria grows more resistant. Why? Because the money isn't there. We're encouraged to minimize use of antibiotics, so the research money goes to long-term maintenance drugs, because that is where the profits lie.

Yet we are so lucky. We can get into our cars and drive where we choose. But cars have only been rolling off the lines for a century or so. Commercial air travel was a glint in someone's eye a century ago, yet now we can jet all over the globe. We can live where we choose and simply fly across the country to visit our families.

We carry computers in the form of smart phones wherever we go, we talk and text wirelessly over the miles, we are always in touch at the touch of a touchscreen.

Think about this in terms of the geologic clock analogy. The earth formed some 4.6 billion years ago and primitive life dates back about 3.9 billion years. Think about the age of the Earth as a clock, with formation at 12 am and today at midnight. Dinosaurs were around for about one hour - until just 20 minutes ago. Human-like beings date back only to the last two minutes, modern humans arrived in the last few seconds.

Think how long it took us homo sapiens to come as far as we've come. Think about how much of our progress has taken place in the past 100 years.

I personally don't think we'll be here to see much of the next geologic day. Enjoy it while you can, do what you can to act locally, but don't assume your great-grandkids will have the same privilege. They might, they might not.

If I was young today, I don't think I'd want to have children. Well, I would, in a selfish sense, because cute babies, but I don't like the direction the world is headed in.

And that has nothing or little to do with politics and politicians.

Anyway, I'll continue to be good for goodness' sake. I'll recycle plastics and try to minimize my carbon footprint. I'll love my children and grandchildren and hope for the best and try not to dwell on the worst. I'll live in the present and enjoy the hell out of every golden moment.

And I'll keep making art for art's sake and for the sake of anyone who has the chance to appreciate it. Just because life is transient doesn't mean it shouldn't be beautiful while it lasts.


They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
And they charged all the people
A dollar and a half to see 'em
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Hey farmer farmer
Put away that DDT now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees
Please
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Late last night
I heard the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi
Took away my old man
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They paved paradise
Put up a parking lot.


(Joni Mitchell © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Crazy Crow Music / Siquomb Music Publishing)