Tuesday, September 22, 2009

trains gone by / originally posted Feb 19, 2009

I live close to the airport now...not so close that it annoys, but close enough that i can hear the roar of the jet engines preparing for take off. No matter how many times i hear it, I always feel a longing to be onboard. Destination is immaterial, I just want to be entering that 21st century magical carpet that will take you anywhere you want to go...to walk that narrow path between the seats looking for my own place by the window where i wait to be whisked above the clouds.

I have to have a window seat; only once was i in the second seat and luckily for him, the person in MY window seat was sleeping because i spent the entire trip nearly on his lap looking out the window. No matter how many times i've flown since, i still love peering out, trying to decipher the ground beneath me and identify the towns, the rivers, the mountains as I pass over them. Even at night, the sparkle of the lights as we pass over the cities is amazing.

I remember the first time I flew, only 10 years ago. We took off, heading out of the snowy Cleveland airport to the sunshine I thought could only be found in Florida but now I realize exists everywhere--above the clouds. No amusement park ride thrills me as the sensation of lift-off! We banked out over Lake Erie and then headed south...I had my nose pressed to the window watching the ground unfold before me as we gained altitude. I could see a river looping below and was excited--that must be the metro park--and then my amazement when the captain came over the loudspeaker to welcome us on board and tell us we just crossed the Ohio River! We had traveled the equivalent of 5 1/2 hours on land in just minutes!!!

The engines' roar creates in me the same longing that the railroad whistle must have done to others a hundred years ago. However, an airport just doesn't look as romanticly evocative as a set of rails do. A few months ago, a friend took me around to some places in our neighborhood I never knew existed. Who'd have thought there'd be an abandoned railroad roundhouse in the middle of an urban neighborhood? I stood on the tracks and the rails stretched as far as the eye could see...the only difference is these rails eventually led to the steelmills rather than across the midwest plains.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wait til next year.........

I thought of another name to call my artwork: Second Wind. Most of my work is done late at night when--and IF--I get my second wind, so I thought it sounded good.

I'm at that time of year when ALL of my jobs and ventures are running concurrently...my full time job doing school portraits has started up for the fall and overlaps my summer job of shooting MLB fans at the stadium, which overlaps my replacement for that job shooting for the House of Blues and then all my artwork--I delivered the 5 new Day of the Dead Skeleton pieces (see below) for a show and then my jewelry--there's a gallery artwalk coming up the first weekend of the month (just 1 1/2 weeks away!!!) that I need to gear up for PLUS getting new work up on my Etsy account (urbanartifaks.etsy.com). I've been drinking a lot of wine lately from local wineries so I can make jewelry from them in the hopes of marketing local-to-local.
Add to the mix I'm supposed to be taking care of my 90 yr old parents...

Good thing I cancelled out of the 3-day show I wanted to do. My motto has become "Wait til next year..." Must be rubbing off on me from working at the ballpark.

Piece #5--Wait Til Next Year"

I submitted photos to Skull-A-Day, a really cool project where he posted a skull a day for an entire year in 2007. then he did another year posting skulls submitted to him or found by him on the web. You can find his story here:


What a way cool project!


Saturday, September 12, 2009

New work!!

I was asked to do a show about day of the dead, one of my favorite themes.

I planned to do a couple new pieces because I only have 2 of the old ones left and I've been pulling them out any chance I got. It was time for new work.

I've had a list of ideas that I wanted to do 'someday', quirky little play-on-words or twists of old favorites like "Whistler's Great-Great-Great Grandmother" (a skeleton sitting in a chair just like the painting) and "Me and my Shadow", a remake of one I'd done as a gift--a skeleton walking a skeleton dog.

Here are my completed pieces:

1. "Don't Even Ask" for Mr. Bones restaurant in Holmes Beach, FL

2."Nude Reclining"

3. Trout Fishing

4. Demon Drop

I have one more I hope to finish....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

where to start??

What do people do all day? I remember reading that book to my kids when they were young. A fascinating book by Richard Scary about all kinds of occupations and what all they entailed. It was actually quite interesting.

When we go to school, we're taught to think in terms of a life's vocation. What do we want to be when we grow up? Why do we have to choose? And, why then?? That has to be the worst time for most of us to decide-what do we know at that time of our lives? We didn't even have the benefit of Richard Scary's book when I was growing up. All we know for sure is 1) we want to get out of our parent's homes and be on our own, and 2) we don't want to be like they are.

It's not until we get knocked around a bit that we finally figure out what is really important-if even then. Some people never figure it out. (I have heard some actually have it figured out right away but I haven't met many.) Luckily, by the time we have it down, we are at that time in our life when opportunities open up...the place I mentioned before, that "second half". Today's Over-40's are living longer, healthier, more active, and wealthier lives than ever before. They: * Own more homes than any other demographic age group* Purchase 41% of all new cars* Spend 74% more on a typical vacation than younger age groups* Enjoy more than $900 billion in income* Exercise at least three times per week (taken from "Secrets of Successfully Advertising to Seniors")

This is an exciting time of life if we just realize the potential and grasp it with both hands and DON'T LET IT SLIP AWAY, ONE BORING MINUTE AT A TIME. One of the reasons I stopped watching TV was because my entire evening was eaten in 30 minute increments, and I was left with nothing to show for it. There is So Much To Do, to Try, to Experience! (My kids learned early to never complain to me they were bored!)

By this point in your life, you know what kind of person you are--do you like being around people all day or do you prefer to be in your own world? Are you service-oriented, meaning, do you like helping others? Do you like working with THINGS as opposed to IDEAS? If you do something, what part of the process do you like the best-the planning, the execution, the marketing? For instance, I absolutely love planning new things. I have spent days coming up with brief, "wouldn't it be neat if--" ideas and talking about them to my friends, even going as far as drawing up business plans, just to put them away. People may think I'm a quitter, that I don't follow through, but in reality, I love the planning, not the execution. Let someone else DO the thing, I just like working out the kinks and knowing it would work. But...how do you find out what your passion is?

beginnings / Monday, April 2, 2007

One year, three months and nineteen days ago, my world as I knew it came to a screeching halt. My husband of nearly fourteen years, out of the blue said he wanted a divorce. He had many reasons, yet no reason. This man--this man that I had devoted my life to--decided my all wasn't good enough and our marriage not worthy of the effort to work on it. I just didn't make him happy. So. Here I am, one year, three months and nineteen days later, bruised, battered, alone (but still married!) and STILL STANDING.....I have reached that mystical 'SECOND HALF' of my life. We all get here, sooner or later; some alone, some not. I just never thought it would come this way.Valentine's day, i took the plunge and quit my job. What had I to lose? My children are all grown and doing very well. My husband is on his own journey. Its just me. Should I keep at a job that was steady and secure, but draining me emotionally, just to pay the bills? A life that was more a life sentence, and that kept me wondering, is this all there is? But, I'm not ready to give up! I haven't even started!!!
This is where I stand now. I'm no longer just someone's mother, or someone's wife. Who, or what, am I??? What were all those dreams I left along the way, like so much debris? This is my journey, my search for balance and reality; my search for my Life. I have no time for husband bashing or a lot of introspection; this is to be a positive time of learning, trying new things, and DOING.

Someday....Sunday, September 14, 2008

Reclaiming is such a better word than recycling...it implies rescuing, saving. Giving it a new purpose maybe. It may not be very American of me in our consumer-based society, but I believe in self sufficiency, Mother Earth do-it-yourself entrepreneural style living. There is something so satisfying about the natural cycle of things: ground is fed with compost to produce vitamin rich food, which feeds our body, and the refuse goes back into the compost pile to feed the next crop. Renewable, sustainable living.

I no longer struggle to live that dream of '5 acres and independence', but my urban lifestyle can accommodate other facets of reclaiming. When I moved into this house, I brought only my bed and mattress, my refridgerator, my wonderful under-the-cabinet microwave [bought on sale for when i would have a cabinet to put it under...in the meantime it was stolen], and my quilting/art supplies. The rest was provided from people's cast-offs found while cruising the streets on garbage day and from making what i need from materials on hand.

I find it so creative and infinitely more satisfying than hitting the local Target or Walmart store. Even the colors I choose to paint my home are from the "oops" shelf of the local Home Depot...I buy whatever they have that hits me knowing I'll use it 'someday'.
here is a picture of my living room: the mirror, picture, cabinets, wire candlestand, rug, all the decorative objects on the shelf and floor, even the rug itself as well as the paint all came from the treelawns of Cleveland...the only things i bought new were the lamp and the Italian wicker chair. Even the panes of glass leaning against the wall are cast-offs waiting to be turned into water fountains...

Marketing / Sunday, August 24, 2008

I did a festival yesterday. I belong to a group called "Broadway Public Art" (a collective of people that make things...anything. OK, there's just 5 of us so far, but it's in its infancy and is part of the efforts to renew our neighborhood) and we had a couple booths at the neighborhood festival (thanks to Charles Gliha for organizing, who does the most fabulous woodworking and restoration work, BTW).

This festival, the 37th annual Slavic Village Festival, has shrunk from a 2-day, many blocks long street fair with 2 stages of continuous music and tons of vendors and food that attracted huge crowds to a one day, one stage, maybe a dozen vendors (both food and non-food) with hardly any people-and not the 75,000 they advertise as being there.

Frankly, it was sad, but not without potential. I know the demographics are changing, but that shouldn't affect the attendance as people will come from all over if they have a reason to come. I think the problem is that the festival planners are reacting to the changes rather than being proactive trying to accomodate it and grow. Right now the festival, which has always promoted Slavic heritage, has no face, no focus, no theme, no continuity, no real reason for exisiting.
It all comes down to basic business practises. What is your brand/identity? Who is your market? Does everything you do enhance or detract from that effort? In this arena, only the strong survive.

I really think business and marketing courses should be mandatory. Everything comes down to marketing whether it is getting a job (selling ourselves to a prospective employer) to getting your toddler to eat his peas.

Location, location, location... / Monday, July 28, 2008

I did my green duty for today...cut my grass with an old push mower. Nice and quiet, no gas fumes and it qualifies as exercise, too...very satisfying. It helps that my yard is a small city lot.

So, here's another of my passions-urban renewal. I am thoroughly committed to revitalizing this old neighborhood. It may be worn and shabby right now-not to mention crime-ridden, but the architecture, the front porches, the rich dirt, (the cheap housing), the close proximity to downtown all make it a desirable location and isn't that one of the 3 top selling features of a home-location-right after location and location? And, did i mention cheap housing?

The prices are enticing if you want to invest...homes that were $80,000+ value 10 years ago can't be given away today. Some are asking only $5000-7500, and the corner house has a sign out front stating $500 down, $300 per month!!!

We even led the nation in foreclosures for a few months...fortunately for us (not for them) someone else has since taken that honor. Had i the money to invest, i'd like to get an entire block of houses and renovate them, then resell or rent them out for artists.

Artists............I truly believe that artists are the answer...I mean the old style starving type artists, not the fine art or married-to-a-spousal-income type artist (no offense, but do count your blessings!). We are like bridges between the worlds of poverty and affluence. Not afraid to live among the lower elements of society, we focus inward, creating and hopefully selling our art to the upper stratas. Not because we are any different inside, or any more creative than others, it's just because we put our art before other concerns...and our lifestyle is the price we pay for our indulgence.

Artists need cheap rent and generally don't have cars or belongings worth stealing, although, as i found out, anything is at risk in this neighborhood. Yet still, we tend to create our own environment; our yards are often an oasis of flowers, sculptures, of color.

We would never be accepted in a gated community where you have to paint your house certain colors, never hang your clothes out to dry, and heaven forbid fix your car in the driveway!

My house is going to be painted creamy butter yellow with Marigold trim and with purple doors and porch rails! Once i fix my garage roof, i am covering the side of the cement block with broken tile and bottle mosaic designs...i have an old fake brass headboard that i will freshen up with paint and sink into the ground to use as a flowerbed border...i've been saving round metal patio tables of various sizes to repaint and mosaic the tops...and just recently I saw brightly painted wooden chairs hung outside on the walls of a funky restaurant to hold flowers-so colorful!

Then I want to create a patio by my mosaic wall for a place to sit around my firepit, and i'm designing water fountains to create the sound of falling water for a peaceful effect. It'll be so much more lush than if i were still living in the suburbs.

I do love the look of some of these planned communities; they show a style of living that seems so relaxed and pleasant...sometimes i think i would love to live there, but in reality, i think i'm better where i am.

Jack of all trades / Thursday, July 24, 2008

I wanted to call this blog, 'Jack of all Trades' but it was taken. I had thought, well, my name is Jack[ie] so it was fitting, and i consider myself a classic, jack of all trades and master of none...meaning, i know how to do a lot of things pretty good, but specialize in none of them.

Even though I'm personally happy being this way, i still thought of it as a defect. We're told everyone is an expert at something, and all we have to do is figure out what our talent or niche is and we will be successful. Well, I just can't figure out what my specialty is. I'm still trying to figure out what i want to be when i grow up, and ya know, i'm facing retirement in the next decade! I hate the idea of doing the same thing, day in and day out. How can anyone bear doing the same things for the rest of their life??? How can i pick just one thing from the zillions that are so fascinating? How can i know what i will still be interested in years down the road because, when i lose interest in something, there ain't NO WAY i can force myself to keep doing it.

I was at the library the other day, and on a whim, scanned the self-help section. There on the shelf was a book that asked, "don't know what to do with your life? Are you drawn to so many things you can't choose one? Do you ache to find the right direction so you can settle down and just do it?" The book is called, "REFUSE TO CHOOSE...a revolutionary program for doing everything you love" by
Barbara Sher.

I started reading it the other night, and what a revelation! Did you know, there are millions of people out there right now, just like me...and history is full of them as well? People like da Vinci, Aristotle, Ben Franklin, Geothe--no one thinks they were indulgent, lazy, or unfocused. And, it wasn't until the 1950's when suddenly we all had to be specialists in our chosen fields and everyone, right down to the garbage collector (oops, waste manager) needed a special title to validate themselves but before that, people were encouraged to have a well-rounded education?

She refers to people like this as Scanners--people who seem to skim life, learning various fields of interest rather than digging deep into one area.

"Scanners love to read and write, to fix and invent things, to design projects and businesses, to cook and sing, and to create the perfect dinner party. " Then they move on. Its not an either/or thing with them, but All of the Above.

WOW! Its such a relief to know that i am OK and don't have to fit that other mold. Maybe i don't have to 'grow up' after all??

I've actually come to the conclusion that i'll never have a true traditional type career. I do know what i love to do the most but i don't have the education or credentials to do this type of work. I don't even know if or how it is done or what this position would be called...i guess it would be a type of business advisor. But--whenever i hear someone talking about their goals and dreams, i can actually feel my heart beat faster and my whole body become alert and alive! I immediately start asking questions and try to come up with suggestions on the spot of ways they can accomplish their dreams, start their own business or whatever it is they want...it always amazes me how i can generate a business plan--complete with marketing strategy--within minutes and if you give me a bit of time i will have the entire process mapped out. I get such such a thrill from the planning, the strategy, the troubleshooting...to do that for a living would be wonderfully exciting! Every day would be different, and to know you were able to help someone on their journey would be so fulfilling.

But, in the meantime, I do everything else.

In Hot Water / Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Today I need to spend time making jewelry. I've a show coming up next month and i really want a good inventory, which is down now since i just sold 7 pieces. The show is urban, so i think a lot of funky stuff is in order. Talk about transferable skills...When my copper plumbing was stolen in January '06, i ended up doing much of the work to replace it myself. My husband got the cold water running but couldn't come back to finish for a week which was OK for him, but I was the one doing without hot water. I did get the hang of showering and washing my hair in the tub standing over the soup pot, but its not really something i wanted to keep doing any longer than necessary.

Watching what he was doing and asking a lot of questions, i managed to get the concept. It took a while, and a lot of oops's and trial and error, but i did manage to have hot running water that night. The pipes may not be straight as an arrow but water still flows through them. I also accidently connected the hot water pipe to the cold water for the washing machine, but that was easily fixed. (all pipes hanging from the ceiling kinda look alike, ya know?)The biggest pain is not knowing until its all done whether it still leaks. Once you turn the water back on and it leaks, you have to drain all the water out again before you can take the pipes apart because the water acts as a coolant and won't let the solder become hot enough to melt.
Water tends to flow downhill, so if you can open a faucet in the basement somewhere and let the water drain out-after turning off the main valve, of course--it makes it easier.

The two main things i learned are 1) flux every bit of where the copper pipes meet--the flux is what cleans the copper to receive the solder and the solder is what actually seals it...and 2) heat the part of the copper pipe with the torch where you want the solder to run to...for instance, when putting a pipe into an elbow, flux both pieces thoroughly-inside the elbow and outside the pipe, insert the pipe, and heat the elbow with the torch while applying the solder to the edge of the elbow where it overlaps the pipe. As it heats, the solder will be sucked into the elbow joint, thus creating a good seal with no leaks. When finished, quickly heat and then brush the melted solder with steel wool to make a nice, neat join.And that's how you do plumbing.

So, what's that have to do with jewelry???

Once you have the concept of soldering down, then soldered jewelry loses its mystery.

Just as in plumbing, the first thing is to create a clean surface to be soldered; in this case, I'm using glass so i clean the glass with alcohol. Solder won't stick to glass, so i wrap the edge evenly with a thin copper tape that goes all around the edges of the glass, just like for stained glass. Rub down firmly with an orange stick or other burnisher. This is where the flux comes in again, but brush it on sparingly. I don't use a torch for the jewelry, but instead a soldering iron. Coat the copper foil with a thin layer of solder. Flux again, and add a heavier layer of solder. Keep doing this until it has the look you want. I like a nice rounded edge but you may not. Solder a jump ring to the top and there you have your first pendant!

There is a lot more to it once you gain the skills, such as using a 1/8" tip on your iron, using a regulator to keep the iron temperature steady, adding charms and other findings, and then the soldering itself--to make really nice soldered edges takes a lot of practice. There are also decorative soldered edges that can be done to look beaded, lacy, or funky. Once you try jewelry, you can turn your talents to suncatchers, glass boxes, kaleidoscopes, and even stained glass windows. But i caution you, unless you live alone, be sure you have a separate working area for cutting glass...and, always wear shoes.

To see more of my jewelry and other art, visit my Etsy shop at

Time to Think / Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ideally, we want all our time to be productive. We seem to need to keep busy. Too many ____, too little time...you fill in the blank. Why do we push ourselves so much? Why do we become slaves to our to-do list?

I've been reading the book by Dan Miller, “
48 Days to the Work You Love”. The book is sprinkled with quotes and thoughts. Such as, Doug King: “Learn to pause or nothing worthwhile will catch up to you.”
He also relates how Henry Ford didnt want executives to always be busy at their desk. He wanted them to take time to prop their feet up and dream fresh dreams. Andrew Carnegie went into an empty room for hours at a time to “sit for ideas”. Thoreau wandered through Walden Pond.
How many of us have discovered going for long walks when we have a lot on our minds? And, why do you think your best ideas come when driving or in the shower? Sadly, those are the only quiet times many of us have anymore.

Speaking of which, I am going to take a walk.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Today is the day/combining my different blogs into 1

Friday, July 18, 2008

So I want to start a blog about something I know and I can't think of anything I know enough about to write expertly on. Then I realize, that's not really true. I may not know tons about any one subject (other than fabric, sewing, and quilting), but I do know a lot about lots of things. That should count for something, for in reality, how many things do we need to be expert about? I had a chemistry teacher who didn't believe in memorizing the elements chart because he said, its always hanging on the wall where you need it so why waste the brain space? The key is knowing where to go for the answers.

I'm married, 16 years now. Most of that time, nothing got done in our home. My husband was a very capable, but extremely busy man and hey, it was his job to do the stuff around the house, not mine!

Well, that ended. We're separated 2 1/2 years now...not divorced, for I was hoping it would blow over and we'd work things out, but I've since come to appreciate my independence. No one but myself to worry about when i paint my living room, and if i dont like it, i repaint it (3 times in 2 years). No one to complain when I turn my entire downstairs into an art studio, prefering to use my kitchen to cut glass rather than vegetables. No one to be annoyed when I drape my laundered undies all over the house because i blew up the dryer and can't afford a replacement yet.
So what is this blog about? Its to celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit, the pioneering know-how, the make do and never say die attitude of women today. We can do so much more than we ever dreamed of! I am NOT a feminist by any means, nor a man-hater. (I believe in the "men, can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em! attitude.)

I hope to get a lot of feedback, shared info, and stories of how y'all have coped with your situations. This includes home repair, jobs and income, art, decorating, yard stuff, automobile maintenance (one area I have NOT gone into yet, although I did change a windshield wiper once), and anything else you can think of. I'd like to see help and support, questions and answers, tips and ideas. Stories of how we get along and not just survive, but thrive!

Friday, September 4, 2009

a new blog!

OK, i'm starting new with the fall year...after all, its back to school and all that--although i'm a long way from being in school. yet somehow the feeling has never left me. its just such an intense time of year. the weather is crisp--hot and dry during the day yet cooling down at night and even the sunlight is more intense.

its a good time to start new things.

i'm starting many things...back to work with the school photography (my main job); i just got back from seven springs ski resort and may be doing some photography work there, and i'm shooting at the house of blues to fill in as the indians baseball season starts to wind down.
i also need to get some artwork done ASAP--there're shows to do and inventory to build up and new venues to seek out.

this blog will kinda be about my work, kinda be about how i find the work--how i will finally quit my 8-5 daytime job to follow my dream of doing many things and to share how they all seem to work out. its kinda about my new adventures in living.

but for now, its off to bed.