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text 2018-10-22 20:46
Halloween Bingo worked its magic

Whether I finish either of the two books already started -- A Canticle for Liebowitz and The Witch of Blackbird Pond -- is really at this point immaterial.  I only read seven books for the game, but that's almost more than I've read the rest of the year.


The past several days have been very discouraging.  I'm good at pretending that all is well, and I can even laugh and have fun when that's not really how I feel. 


A couple of weeks ago, my first art show of the season was rained out.  This is my supplemental income, so I felt the pinch pretty hard.  Then last week Moby's trip to the vet took a big bite out of my already trimmed to the bone budget.  Oh, well, it's only money, right?


But Moby's stubbornness about getting into and out of the car threw my back into a tizzy.  Not the spasms I've grown so used to that I finally got medication to deal with them.  Oh, no, this was something else.  Slowly, slowly, slowly it's been getting better, but it robbed me of valuable time to prepare for the next art show, our annual open studio tour.  I wanted to spend time on the rock saw cutting more material.  I wanted to sort out more rocks in the workshop.  None of it was possible.


Nor could I tackle the yard work needed for the studio tour.  One tree still needs trimming.  Storm debris needs to be cleaned up.  And then there's the dead water heater that BF dragged out by the gate and left there when his knee went out.  It's right in the path visitors take to get to my studio tour exhibit.


But I was raised never to make demands, because I wasn't worthy of making demands on anyone else.  It hard to shake that off under the best of circumstances; it's harder when you hit resistance.


Last night I gave up on reading.  My back was feeling a lot better and I had finally got some favorable response on what to do about the water heater . . . after my third or fourth request.  I decided maybe I would take a look at one of the two books I have over 50,000 words on but both are stalled.  I began reading in the early afternoon.  I fixed a few small details to conform with a slight alteration I wanted to make in the plot.  When I reached the end, the spot where I'd written some more by hand and then accidentally thrown the notebook pages away, I picked up the thread again.


But I was tired.  And my back was hurting again.  So I went to bed with my spiral notebook and pencil, and I scribbled out a couple of paragraphs.  I'm not sure why I picked up the Kindle Fire and posted those two paragraphs on BL, but I did.  Typing on it is a pain, and its autocorrect is the worst in the world.  But when I had finished the two paragraphs, I just kept going.  And going.  And going.  Until my eyes were falling closed even while I was writing.


Storms woke the dogs at 3:30 this morning, and then they woke me.  I knew where I wanted to pick up the writing thread, but sleep grabbed me first.  When I woke up again, it was 8:00 and there were errands to run and small but urgent chores to take care of.  Just as I was about to settle down with the laptop and maybe maybe maybe start writing again, someone showed up to help load the dead water heater in the back of my car to take to the recycler.  Half an hour later, another interruption.  And another.


It's now 12:30.  Half the day is gone.  But I've copied that late night text to the manuscript file.  I've made some editing changes.  And I've added a little bit, too.


In order to write, I need to read.  Halloween Bingo got me back to reading.  Halloween Bingo got me back to writing.






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text 2018-09-17 17:39
Daily Special - An Almost Free Giveaway!
Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special: More Than 275 Recipes for Soups, Stews, Salads and Extras - Moosewood Collective

For the price of postage only.





I'm not sure where this came from, but possibly it's one of those "I forgot to return the card that said don't send me this" book club editions.  At any rate, it's brand new even though it's been sitting on a shelf in the workshop for almost 13 years.


Neither of us is much for soups or stews, so even though there are some great recipes, they're not going to be made here.  Someone else might as well get some use out of it.


I'm determined to clear out stuff I'm not using.  If no one claims this by Thursday, it will be donated to the Apache Junction Public Library.


The little Washington State Ferry ornament was a gift from my husband's brother and his (Tasmanian) wife years ago.  Not forgotten, because I knew exactly where it was.  I just didn't remember that the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special was sitting right beside it on the shelf in the workshop.  I brought both of them in the house.  The ferry now sits beside my desk computer screen.


There's a method to my madness.

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review 2018-09-14 20:18
Sea Glass Crafts . . . and other options
Sea Glass Crafts: 28 Fun Projects You Can Make at Home - C.S. Lambert

I bought this book at The Whale's Tale gift shop in Cape May, New Jersey.  Over the course of my various visits to this charming resort and its wonderful beaches, I had picked up a few bits and pieces of genuine sea glass and thought surely I can make something out of it . . . .


Most of the projects in this book are fairly simple, but some are more complex and therefore provide a worthwhile challenge for the not-so-much-a beginner. 


Author Lambert provides substantial background information as well, such as a sidebar on ceramic shards that also wash up on beaches.  I found one of those on the beach at Cape May, a small piece of what might have been a child's cup decorated with a picture of a whimsical kitten.



She also gives excellent directions for making the projects, including detailed instructions for drilling holes in sea glass using a drill press, regular drill, or Dremel tool.  Holes are essential for turning glass pieces into earrings and other jewelry or sun catchers or any of several other creations.  In fact, when I took this book off the shelf this morning that was the first thing I looked for: how to drill holes!


Of course, it's not always necessary to drill holes.  Some pieces are shaped just right that they can be made into something without drilling.  This is a pendant I made with just a piece of Cape May sea glass and sterling silver wire.  It sold right away!



I've only found a few very tiny pieces of glass at the beaches on Whidbey Island, Washington, but one thing I did find was one of my coolest discoveries ever.


During a visit in 2009, I had gone with my daughter-in-law and grandson to the beach at Langley, WA in search of rocks or shells or glass or whatever.  We found none of the first three, but I did find a whatever.  Lying on top of the seaweed-covered rocks at the tide line was a small round grey thing with blue circles on it. 



I could accurately describe it as the size of a marble because after we left the beach, we stopped at the grocery store and there was an ordinary glass marble in the parking lot.



Although I don't exactly collect marbles, I do pick them up when I find them, and have acquired maybe two dozen over the years.  So of course I picked up this yellow one and dropped it in my pocket.


After we got back to my son's house, we did some quick research and determined that the grey thing with blue circles was in fact an antique clay marble!  They're not particularly rare or valuable, but I did think it was kind of cool to find one on the beach, followed by finding a modern one!


But now it's nine years later, and I still don't believe in omens.

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text 2018-09-13 14:41
I guess I'm staying, Part 2: Long post after a short night

First of all, a huge THANK YOU to all of you for the support and just for "listening."


Second of all, I was finally able to spend about 45 minutes in the studio doing some work this morning, but only because I was over there by 6:30 a.m.  It's still getting too hot too early to stay out for any significant production.


Third of all  . . . . . . .


Yesterday's art group meeting was more disappointing than I had expected, and when I got home, BF was not in a listening mood.  He asked how things went and I told him, but he fell back on the same response -- I should start my own group.


He forgets that essentially I started this one. 


A small group of neighbors who were artists got the idea in 2007 and recruited a few other people who participated at a large local art show.  I was one of the recruits.  There were maybe eight of us at the first meeting. By the third or fourth meeting we learned that the annual studio tour was being dropped by its sponsoring organization.  (They were not an artists' group but used the event as a fund-raiser for their other activities.)  I had so very much wanted to participate in the tour that I was devastated, so I bulldozed the group that was so new it didn't even have a name yet to pick it up.  It was a huge project, ultimately run by three of us because no one else wanted to be involved.  But without that first 2007 studio tour, we wouldn't have gained any membership nor the $1000 or so seed money that funded the group's beginning.


I ran the first two studio tours.  When the person who took it over from me screwed it up royally, I took it back and built it back up.  Then it got taken away from me again, and it's struggled ever since.


At yesterday's meeting, the new "Events Chair" announced that there were 77 artists signed up for the fall tour, and they'd be displaying at 23 studios.  This is the 12th annual tour, and it hasn't grown.  I don't have the paperwork here -- it's out in the studio -- but I'm pretty sure we had 25 studios that first year! 


Why more artists than studios? Because the thing now is to have as many "guest" artists at a studio as possible.  Each one becomes a mini-show, and some of the studio hosts who have a lot of room on their properties would like to have more and more and more guests.  I've argued over the years that it should be fewer guest artists and more emphasis on the host working in their own studio environment.  (Isn't that the whole point of a "studio" tour?)  Anyone can come to an ordinary art show, where everyone has a 10 x 10 space and sets up all the shit they want to sell.  But a studio tour should be . . . . different. . . . . special.


The worst of it was that the Event Chair actually turned down a potential host.  When he asked why he wasn't selected as a host, she said, "We already had enough."


In other words, we don't want to grow.  Hello?????


She went on to kind of explain that her philosophy is that visitors should be able to visit all the studios in the two days of the event, and if there are too many studios, visitors won't get to them all.


Yet other similar events in other locations have way more studios and sometimes run for two or three or four consecutive weekends!


We have a metropolitan area of several million people.  Population increases in the winter as people head south to escape the cold.  Our fall tour is always the first week-end in November, as the holiday season is just getting into full swing.  There are no other similar studio tours in the area.  We have spectacular scenery and some truly great artists.


Why don't they want to grow????


I asked myself that fifty times on the drive home last night, and a thousand more over the course of the evening.


Most of our members -- it's up just over 100 now -- are retired or semi-retired hobbyists.  Though some of them make pretty darn good money off their art, they don't do it for a living.  Almost all of them have comfortable other incomes.  Almost all of them also have spouses or other family members who help out, either financially or whatever.  There are only a very few who do this full-time and/or count on the income to pay the bills.  I'm one of those.


There's not, therefore, much of a sense of professional community.  Each one is on her/his own, and the group is just there to arrange shows . . . and provide some socialization.


I told BF over pizza last night that the whole concept of "professional development" is outside their vision.


Several years ago, when I chaired the studio tour and was considered an unofficial board member, the president wanted a better description for our members than "professional artists."  I suggested "working artists" to indicate that we weren't just playing around with stuff but were actually putting in time and effort and so on.  She got upset and said no, that was all wrong, because it made it sound like we weren't really creative.


She, of course, was a wealthy retiree who painted because she enjoyed it and didn't need the money.


The meeting was longer yesterday than usual, and I didn't get to make my brief presentation until fifteen minutes before the end.  Like a bunch of kindergartners, the 50+ people in the room were already antsy, couldn't stop talking, were getting up and moving about the room. 


I began by stating that one of the problems I've seen with advertising the tour is that we have no way to let prospective customers know ahead of time what kind of art each artist does.  Our map only allows for a few words to describe the artist's medium -- watercolor, ceramics, woodturning, etc. -- but not anything more.  Although in past years a few thumbnail photos have been added, it's kind of unfair that only six or eight artists get promoted out of 70 or more.  The one year we had photos from all the participating artists, there was no room to label them, so what good did it do?


The new member who is now designing the map for us -- and he seems to be doing a good job, but more on that in a minute -- has added thumbnail photos for each studio, but only for the host.  There's still no visual promo for the guest artists who are roughly 70% of the participation.


I explained that I had found the Whidbey Island Working Artists Tour program and thought it would be a great model for us to follow. Each artist would get the chance to exhibit a few photos, give a brief description of their work and inspiration, or whatever, and the whole thing would be available for free on the group website.  I had taken the laptop with me, and I had the Whidbey Island brochure downloaded.  As soon as I was done with that brief explanation, I invited anyone who was interested to come over and see what it looked like.


We had over 50 members in attendance yesterday.  A grand total of four of them came to see what I had.  Those four all agreed that the Whidbey brochure was fantastic, and that even if we couldn't do something like that ahead of the fall tour, which is only seven weeks away, we could surely have it ready for the spring tour.


Those four interested members did NOT include the president, the vice-president who does all the publicity, or the Event Chair.


Around 9:00 last night, I sent an email to the president and VP and thanked them for allowing me to present the idea, but that since only four people showed any interest in it, I'd just shelve it.


The guy doing the map -- I said I'd get back to him.  From what I could see of his proofs, the thing looks good.  The basic impression is similar to what we've had the past couple of years.  He changed the fonts, which I think makes it look less professional, but I didn't say anything.  I corrected three quick typos that were on the front page; he said he just copied from last year's, but I know those errors weren't there.  He had designed some other promotional paperwork, but I didn't get a chance to look at it.  It did look better than what we had in the past.


So there is some indication that maybe the group is willing to get more professional in its presentations. 


BUT -- as I said, membership is up over 100 now, but in order to do that, we had to reach out beyond the natural geographic area.  We are at the very east edge of the Phoenix metro area; our local population is listed as roughly 40,000, but I don't know if that includes just the actual city of Apache Junction, AZ, or the surrounding unincorporated areas as well.  I'm in the latter.  At any rate, even out of 40,000 people we couldn't get 100 members.  Now we have people from Scottsdale and Mesa joining.  The studio tour, however, is limited to a specific area of Apache Junction and neighboring unincorporated Gold Canyon.  A few studios are scattered at the northern edge of this area, but most are within two clusters; driving distance is no more than a few miles between any of them.


Whidbey Island has a population of roughly 80,000, and is part of the metro Seattle area.  Their summer studio tour had 51 studios.  The northernmost was on the southern edge of the city of Oak Harbor; the southernmost was at the far tip of the island approximately 50 driving miles away. 


For our tour, the visitor has to visit each studio to "see" what kind of art is displayed; for the Whidbey tour, the visitor can make an informed decision as to what studios to stop at.


For our tour, the artist has to trust to luck to get any individual promotion; for the Whidbey tour, every artist gets individual promotion.


Our VP in charge of publicity announced at yesterday's meeting that she sends out promo material to a variety of different publications.  Some are weekly, some are monthly, and all have different requirements and lead times.  She sends as many photos as she thinks they want, but she has no control over which, if any, photos are chosen.  We don't know if she always sends one of her own, thus improving her chances, or plays favorites with the other members.  Maybe not.  We don't know where she sends stuff.


She also said that she doesn't vary the text of her material, other than changing dates.  So no matter where she sends a Call to Artists, the narrative is the same.  No matter where she sends information about an upcoming event, the narrative is the same.  Over and over and over, year after year.


I have offered to write these and change them up a bit so they aren't the same dry nonsense over and over but no one ever takes me up on the offer.


The week before each of our events, I send out an email invitation to people who have signed up for notifications.  The email list is now about 500 names, and I have to be careful how many I send at a time or Yahoo shuts me down for spamming.  Each event gets its own invitation, punched up so it's not the same script over and over.  Maybe no one else thinks that's important, but I do.


Professionalism in promotion is one thing.  Professionalism in behavior is another.  And that came up at yesterday's meeting, too.


We do two shows a year at a local restaurant, the Olive Mill in Queen Creek.  It's a horrible place to set up, but sales are usually pretty good, so I keep going.


It's horrible to set up because the venue is a picnic area with a single-lane looping driveway.  You have to drive in at one end, get to your spot and unload everything, then park a quarter mile away and walk back.  There's very little room to pull off the driveway, so the rule is unload as fast as you can and get out of the way of the people behind you so they can get in.  At some points it's possible to pass a parked vehicle, but it's not easy.


Set-up is from 7:00 a.m., with the show officially starting at 9:00.  With a helper, it's not difficult to do.  For a person working alone, it's kinda tough but doable.  What makes it worse is people who block the driveway so you can't even get past them to your space to unload.  That is a common -- and very rude -- occurrence.


An announcement was made at the meeting yesterday that the owners of the Olive Mill were furious with our group after last spring's show there because some of our members were rude enough to show up at 6:00 a.m. and got onto the property early.  They had to open a barrier to do so, which amounted to trespassing.


We were warned not to do it again.


Hello?  These are adults and they have to be reminded to follow directions?


But this is the group I belong to and it's the only game in town.


There are other events in the area, just not other groups.


There is a big art show in January, and in fact that is the show at which I was recruited to join our group.  This show is well established and usually draws a very big crowd.  I've done it maybe half a dozen times, with varying success.  A couple of years I did very, very well.  A couple of years not so well.  And that's normal.  But the fee for the show has gone from $40 to over $100 in the past six years, with now a $25 non-refundable fee just to apply!  The set-up arrangements are even worse than at the Olive Mill, especially for someone working without a helper.  And success, from my experience, depends very much on where one's booth is placed, due to several factors.  I decided not to even apply last year, and I probably won't this year.


The local Superstition Mountain Museum and Historical Society also sponsors several events, but I've had mixed results there.  The art shows are combined with a lot of entertainment, and people tend to come for the entertainment, not to shop.  This year, they are going to a slightly different format in which a single artist will be featured and promoted.  I secured one of those spots in early February.  I just need to get some photos sent over so they can do the publicity.


The bottom line on the various shows is that there are sufficient outlets, if one can get accepted into them.  There are other, smaller events, and a person who was really dedicated could attend those as well, again depending on acceptance.  I've been fortunate enough to get accepted into most shows I've applied to, but I've had a few rejections, too.  Nothing is guaranteed.


Nothing would be guaranteed if I moved either.


Okay, moving right along.


Fourth of all, shows alone don't give me sufficient marketing space.  Using a 10 x 10 space or tent, I can set up four tables.  My jewelry alone takes up at least three, and I can easily fill all four. That leaves little room for any of the rest of the stuff.  This is just one reason why I love the studio tours so much -- I have all the room I need, even if I don't get to promote it!


I only started playing with the wood in about 2003, when I wanted my husband to make more small items and he wanted to work on larger ones.  So he taught me how to use the lathe and I could make whatever I wanted.  Unfortunately, since his death I haven't had much time -- or space -- to do very much more of it.  As I wrote in a comment on one of my other whiny posts, it would be nice if I could cut all the rough wood on the band saw this winter and not have to transport the equipment.  The problem is that even the workshop isn't set up for it.  Could I make it work?  Yeah, with some help.


The rocks are one thing.  The wood is another.  Then there's the fabric.


When we moved here in 2006, I had three big storage tubs full of fabric.  I now have 13 big storage tubs full of fabric, and most of it has been given to me.  Best of all, most of it has been used to produce income.  Unfortunately, it's not cost effective to do any sewing in the studio in the summer.


When I went over there at 6:30 this morning, it was still over 80 degrees inside.  By the time I left at 7:20, the temperature was already 90.


I could rearrange some things in the house to make room for the sewing machine, thus enabling me to do some work without turning on the a/c in the studio.  It's a far from ideal situation, though I've done it on a temporary basis when BF has been gone for an extended time, either visiting distant family or long week-end out-of-town softball tournaments.


Normally, I use the cooler weather from October to May building up inventory and taking care of "projects" in general, as well as doing my shows.  Last year (2017-18 season) was unusual because I had so many problems with my back.  And those problems arose because the shows themselves require more physical labor than I can comfortably handle.  Even spreading out the loading of the car over several days before a show doesn't help when everything has to be unloaded, set up, torn down, and reloaded all within the space of seven or eight hours.  I'm too short, and the reaching into the vehicle is too much of a stretch.


And I have no help.  BF's umpiring is almost always on the week-ends, same as my shows.  He does help me load things up beforehand and sometimes helps unload after a show, but it's the massive amount of physical labor in that short time frame that does me in.


Ultimately, if I were to move, the least of my worries is packing the inventory.  The cost

of packing and moving is one thing, but that's more impacted by the furniture than anything.  With a few exceptions, I'm not attached to much of furniture;  it can be replaced.  I'm more concerned right now with using that inventory to generate income this season.  In turn, that's why the whole attitude of the artists' group was so discouraging to me last night.


I have the means to generate inventory; I need the means to generate sales.  Does that make sense?


Fifth of all -- moving to Whidbey Island.


There is no guarantee the inventory I produce would sell on Whidbey Island.  It's possible that none of my stuff is good enough.  Maybe people would think my handmade origami boxes are tacky and cheap, even though I think the mass-produced boxes from China are crap.  I suck when it comes to display design, and I'm always too poor to be able to buy the nifty display items.


That being said, however, if I'm going to move, it's going to be to Whidbey Island.  I have at least some familiarity with the location, for one thing; and for another, that's where my son and daughter in law and grandson live.  That might mean a little more help for setting up at shows.  Maybe.  Maybe.  No guarantee.


Whidbey is a week-end destination for Seattle-ites.


There is a thriving arts community -- as I've said before -- and there is a more of a double-season there than here.  While we have our cool-weather season October through March and into April, Whidbey has a summer season plus a holiday season for arts and crafts.


The weather is an issue, and I won't deny that.  It's not as bad as Chicago or Minnesota, but it does get cold in the winter and it rains a lot.


I love my Arizona sunshine.  I love being in the shadow of Superstition Mountain. 


I love my ironwood tree.


I love being able to drive out into the desert and collect really neat rocks and then turn them into jewelry.


Okay, let's see how that really works.


I do love the Arizona winter weather, and I love the sunshine.  But it also keeps me from being productive in the summer.  I do not go out for any extended period when it's 110 outside, and that's pretty much most of the daylight hours from mid-May to mid-September.  Right now, at 9:00 a.m., it's 90 degrees outside, with a predicted high of 103.  It's the middle of September.  The weather on Whidbey Island isn't the frozen north.  No sub-zero temperatures for weeks on end.  No great drifts of snow.


I love my mountain.  I can't replace that.  I've seen the scenery on Whidbey Island; it doesn't compare.


I love my ironwood tree.  I can't replace that, either.  Would it be possible to grow one on Whidbey Island?  I don't know.  I'm already committed to taking some cactus cuttings, so maybe some ironwood seeds, too? 


I love my rocks, and I have a lot of them already.  Truth is, I had already planned that if I did move, I would make at least one more trip out to my favorite rock hunting spot and collect as much as I can before moving.  And there are neat rocks in Washington, too.


I am more a mountain and desert person than a beach person, so the kind of murky waters of Puget Sound don't offer much compensation.  I do like trees, however, and I've noticed that when perusing real estate listings, I'm less inclined to look at properties that don't have significant trees.  Some quick research suggests the Pacific madrone may be a landscaping equivalent to my ironwood.  We'll see.


There are currently several properties listed for sale that would meet my current requirements.  Whether they are within my budget depends on how much I can get out of what I own here.


Sixth of all, selling this place will probably be the most difficult part of the whole operation.


The main house (1987 manufactured home) needs some exterior repairs due to ordinary weathering damage after 30 years in the sun and some previously untended roof issues.  I replaced the roof four or five years ago and fixed those problems, but not the other damage.  The roof repair at least halted further damage.  Interior is okay except for the carpet.  My choice would be to rip it all out and put down laminate, but that would have to be done after all the furniture -- especially all these freakin' bookcases! -- has been removed.  The rest of the interior is minor touch-up things, almost all of which were left here by the previous owner and I've just never had the motivation to finish them.


The little house/studio (1987 14 x 50 mobile home) has similar exterior issues due to weather exposure.  Roof is new last year.  I pulled out all the old carpet in 2007 and put down laminate, but the vinyl in the kitchen could use replacement.  If I were going to do it, I'd put down more laminate.  It's incredibly easy to do.  The back door shows signs of dry rot and would probably be a candidate for replacement, but that's not essential.  Some of the paneling in the living room should be replaced due to water stains from when the roof leaked.


Workshop is fine as is, except that one or maybe two of the fluorescent light fixtures might need to be replaced, or maybe just the bulbs.  Other than that, the shop is fine.


But I have no idea what the selling price would be, or how easy it would be sell, or what the advantages are between as-is or make the repairs first.


Sixth of all -- actual moving.


I own a small enclosed utility trailer, I think it's 6 x 8 or maybe a little bigger.  It's not nearly big enough.  Not even close.


If I were to be planning right now, I'd expect to need at least two of the largest U-Haul trucks, with one also towing a vehicle and the other towing the utility trailer.  I' pretty sure that would give enough space for the household goods and arts/crafts inventory and equipment. 


I could be wrong.


That would require two drivers.


Which brings up the question you've probably been asking since this whole thing began.  What role is the ol' BF playing in this?


And I have no answer.


I have said nothing at all to him about this.  Whether he has guessed anything, I have no idea.


He makes a fair amount of income from his umpiring, most of which is girls' softball.  Could he do the same thing in the Seattle area?  I don't know.  I did tell him about the horrible umpiring I saw at my grandson's baseball games.  BF could make a small fortune just training other umpires!


Whether he would want to or not is the question.


He has family and friends in the San Francisco area, and it's about 200 miles further from Seattle than it is from here.  Whether that would be a factor I don't know.


He has been complaining about the heat far more this summer than in the past, but he also complains about the cold.  (He is turning into my mother!)


He has some friends here, but not close ones like he's had in the past.  He makes new friends very easily.


If he were to decide to come with me, he would no doubt help with the packing and so on, and probably drive one truck.  He currently has three cars of his own, so I'm not sure exactly how that would work out, but that's a relatively minor detail.  He has talked about selling one or more of them anyway.  (You don't want to know about him and his cars.)


And if he doesn't want to come, well, that's his choice.


Seventh of all --

I'm already committed to shows for this season and I'm not in any position to move now anyway, so nothing much would happen until spring.  I've already started some of the decluttering and pitching and consolidating that would be necessary if I end up moving, and I will continue to do that regardless.


The first show of the season, at the Olive Mill, is three weeks from Sunday.  Obviously I hope to sell enough to decrease inventory and increase back account, but I'm also mentally setting aside some of the (I hope!) profits to put toward decluttering and moving expenses.


Eighth of all --

It still might not happen.


I hadn't realized how much I wanted to move until it seemed like it wasn't going to happen, wasn't able to happen at all.  I'm still going to be thinking about it and having second and third and fourth thoughts, but yesterday's meeting really brought home (pun intended) how frustrated I've been with the group.


And even as I wrote that, I just got an email from the VP who does all the publicity, urging me to continue to promote the expanded brochure idea.


Personally, I think this is a great idea, I just don't have the time to devote to it.  If we could design a way to streamline the process to become manageable it would help.  Please continue to promote it & think about how the process would/could work.


Is it enough?  I don't think so.  Too little, too late.


I need to jump in the shower.  I need to order more meds for the dog.  I need to plan something for supper.  I need to do too damn many things.


Again, for those of you who have waded through all this muck with me, thank you a thousand times over. 

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text 2018-08-01 04:39
Extending my mini-vacation, and then it's over
  • The four-day week-end I spent in the Seattle area was not much of a vacation, other than being a break from cooking and washing dishes.

    I think I walked three or four miles just through the airports and had the burden of hauling a suitcase and overloaded laptop case.  Being old and out of shape doesn't help.  Even on wheels, the combination of luggage was heavy.  There was no way I could have carried it up and down stairs, so I appreciated the escalators, but in many places there were just ramps.  They're fine on the downward slant, but uphill ramps have always done a number on my ankle and calf muscles.

    During my stay, we went to baseball games three days out of the four, and invariably there was uphill and downhill walking, with the same effect on my muscles as airport ramps.  Nights were often late and most mornings were early, so I didn't get nearly as much sleep as I would have liked.  And sleep in an unfamiliar bed never provides the best rest.  Each day I fell further and further behind.

    Sunday, we went to beaches.  Several of them.  We went in search of stones and seaglass.  I found enough little stones at one beach to maybe make a small tumbler load and maybe produce some casual jewelry, but the seaglass beach was inaccessible.  That was a bit of a disappointment.

    We also went to the beaches to take pictures.  No one has any pictures of me because I'm always the one taking the photos, and I don't like any of the photos of me anyway.  But everyone wanted some family pictures, so we found a big driftwood log at one beach and some pictures were taken.  I haven't seen them yet.  I'm not sure when I will.

    I returned to Arizona Monday – the airport walks were longer and even more horrendous because I was already exhausted – and wasted no time.  Dirty laundry was the first thing unpacked, and while the washer was running I finished the unpacking.  As soon as the clothes were in the dryer, I set the timer for an hour and crawled into bed for a 60 minute nap.  There being insufficient groceries in the house to fix supper – and there being absolutely no enthusiasm on my part for cooking it anyway – we went out to eat.  I came home completely exhausted in spite of my nap, and was sound asleep shortly after 9:00.

    This morning I woke up earlier than I really wanted to and had no desire to get out of bed, so I spent about an hour just being lazy and doing some thinking.  It's not the first morning I've done that, but for a variety of reasons this morning was a bit different.

    A good portion of the past weekend was also devoted to motivational conversations, for reasons I won't go into here.  Although I was not the object of these discussions, much of what was said hit home: I've not been adequately motivated to stick to my writing and I've also been far too willing to come up with convenient excuses.  The weather is too hot or too cold, there are too many worries about finances, too many appliances have broken, blah, blah, blah, blah.  The end result is that I have two novels sitting at well more than 50,000 words each, and I have done virtually nothing on either of them for months.

    A few weeks ago, I figured out why one of the books was stalled.  The problems were fixable, with some work, and the fix would make the story much stronger.  And even at 50,000 words, the book was going to require a whole lot more writing anyway.  The words don't write themselves; I'd have to stop making excuses and get to work.

    The other book presents a much more complicated problem.  I began writing it without a clear idea where it was going.  The plot was vague and strongly character-driven, so I had the character arc well formed, but not much else.  The more I worked on it, the more the writing veered to the character part of the plot and away from the story, because the story wasn't strong enough to pull it back.

    The story also had a huge hole.  No, that's not quite right.  The story as I had written it up to those 50,000 words had an obvious weakness.  At least it was obvious to me.

    As I read other books and saw similar or even worse weaknesses, I wondered if readers noticed, and if they noticed, did they care.  These flimsy plots and characters who acted without proper motivation or consistency bothered me.  Did they bother other readers?  Whether or not they did, I knew I was having more and more problems with this book because it bothered me.  I had put my character, the one who was driving the whole book, into a situation I couldn't imagine her actually getting herself into.  It made no sense to me the author; how could I even begin to make it make sense to a reader?

    Over the weekend I found an answer, or at least a possible answer.  As with the other stalled novel, this one would require more work.  I'm not sure how much work, or where the changes will need to be made.  Will I have to go back into those existing 50,000 words and make major modifications?  It's been months since I've read it all the way through and I know there are details I've forgotten.  Will they fit in this new "fix" I've sort of come up with?

    The truth is, I've allowed myself to be distracted far too much.  I've forgotten how difficult writing is.  I wanted it to be easy.

    In fact, writing has always been easy for me.  That's not to say the easy writing is always good writing, but I've always been able to do it.  

    What's hard is turning off the distractions.  What's hard is sitting down and facing the next blank line, the next sentence, the next paragraph, without worrying whether some reader is going to like it or not.  What's hard is turning of my internal editor who has the rejection slip already in her hand and just needs my own SASE to send it back to me.

    Today is Tuesday.  I'm catching up on some other work while I mentally play with these two plot improvement projects.  Tomorrow I have another grocery shopping expedition on the schedule, with the follow-up of putting the groceries away.  Overall, it will take up my entire morning.  Another list of chores faces me related to the upcoming art show season.  My first scheduled show is less than ten weeks away.

    The arts and crafts stuff is part of this.  It's a distraction in and of itself, but it's also a source of income, which I need.  There's a necessary balance to be achieved, and frankly, I haven't found it yet.  That's another task for the next couple of days as I think this all through.

    I've been in this position before.  There's always a desire to write, and plenty of workable ideas to which to apply that desire, but the distractions and emotional obstacles stand in the way.  Self doubt is a big one, and maybe having these two plots worked out – at least for now – will help erase some of that doubt.  I've never had an abundance of self-confidence, and it gets pummeled pretty regularly.  Even a light-hearted Twitter query about "Did you ever have someone who had more confidence in yourself than you did, and how did it affect you?" can feel like a dagger to the heart.  No, I never had anyone who had more confidence in me than I did.  Never.  And I never really had much confidence in myself to begin with.

    It's hard to push past that, and yet I've done it in the past.  I know it can be done.  I know I can do it.  I just have to do it.            

    Therefore, I've given myself the rest of this week to put all these other issues in order and out of the way.  There will still be work to be done for the art shows, but that's an ongoing effort.  The other stuff needs to be set aside, so I can focus on the writing.

    There were elements of my four-day weekend that were enough of a vacation to give me the opportunity to think out the problems of these two books and clarify potential fixes.  As I continue to think these through, my job is also to make -- make, not find -- the time to do the writing.  That means to stop making excuses, stop finding excuses.
    I think we get a warm feeling inside at the thought of everyone having a mentor, a supporter, someone who makes each of us somehow rise above whatever is holding us back so we can achieve our dreams.  The sad truth is that most of us don't have that someone.  Most of us don't achieve our dreams.  Many of us don't achieve those dreams because we're waiting for that bit of support or encouragement.  But I wonder just how many successes out there are attributable to raw, ugly, solo determination.  I'm taking that for my model.

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