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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Here's What's New

I had announced awhile back that I would be doing a meet n' greet at my art show at The Globe in Berlin, Maryland, on Black Friday...which is a really big day in Berlin. They do their tree lighting and they shut the streets down to vehicle traffic and there's all sorts of holiday festivities happening.

Of course I woke up that day feeling very much under the weather. On a scale of 1-10 my pain level was at about 8.5 which is very bad when you have to drive 3 hours and then be talkative and sociable...neither of which are ever easy for me, even on days when I'm not in as much pain.

I knew it would be a waste of very valuable time to trek down there.  No one in that town on that day was going to be there to come and see me and/or my artwork.  They are there on that day to eat, drink and be merry.  And overall it did turn out to be a huge waste of time; except that we gave away 8 gift bags with small framed artwork to unsuspecting strangers.





a few of the gift bag giveaways
We give away artwork every year on Black Friday and it's really rewarding and fun.  This year was no exception and out of the eight people we gave artwork to there was only one guy who was kind of "thanks, whatever"; everyone else was delighted.  Especially a man named Billy who acted as though we gave him $500!  He thought it was the coolest thing and he gave me a tremendous bear hug which was pretty much the highlight of my night.  Thanks, Billy!

We did also meet a lovely woman from Berlin who came inside specifically to see my artwork.  I'm really mad that I didn't get her name because she was so nice.  She said that she was disappointed because Black Friday in Berlin used to be all about local art and artists and now that seems to no longer be the case.  We told her that even we noticed that to be true in the 4 years we've been doing my month-long show.  The first year, art & artists were one of the main features of the Black Friday shindig.  Every year since it seems to have faded off.  We agreed that it was probably because they do an art stroll every month including in December, but it's a missed opportunity to not also do it on Black Friday.  Oh well, not a lot I can do about that.  Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Saturday at our house was a non-event unless you consider blowing and raking massive amounts of leaves out to the street to be some kind of occasion worth celebrating.  We also spent the day wondering if we shouldn't have more carefully considered our decision to buy a house in an area that resembles a forest.  Shade is nice; blowing/raking leaves every spare minute of your life from September - January...not so much.

Sunday morning found me stomping around the house having a hissy fit because the leaf blowing was still not over.
The truth is that it's not going to ever be over.  We will be blowing leaves until it snows and then we'll be blowing leaves again when the snow melts and we'll probably be blowing leaves until we're in our 90s and eating cat food because that's all we can afford as a result of exorbitant electric bills caused by constantly running electric leaf blowers.  You want to know how many leaves fall on our property? This will give you an idea:  last year when we moved in and discovered that the former owners kinda didn't do anything about leaf removal in the three months of prime leaf-falling time from when we signed the purchase commitment (October) until we closed (January), we had a landscaping service come out to give us an estimate once the weather got a little nicer - I think it was March.
A $650 estimate.
And that was just for the backyard...which isn't huge because there's a big ass in-ground pool that takes up 2/3 of the yard.
Yup, $650 worth of leaf collection.
Needless to say we did it ourselves.



So let's review:  leaf "fun" starts in October and doesn't stop until it's too cold - end of December-ish. Then it begins again in March when you have to collect all the leaves the you just left laying there because it was too freakin' cold outside.  That will probably take a good coupla months until the new baby leaves start popping up on all the trees at the end of April.
My estimation is that we will spend a solid FIVE months dealing with leaves, which clearly means I don't think we'll be living in this house as long as we thought we would.

Did I mention that every day, all day, I listen to the constant drone throughout the neighborhood of leaf blowers and giant leaf vacuums that attach to lawn tractors?  Maddening.

Sunday afternoon, though, we did manage to escape the leaf-blowing drudgery for a bit.  We are lucky enough to now live in an area in which we can take quickie road trips to great places and on Sunday that place was Ocean City, NJ.



Busy boating day on the Atlantic.  I hear that stripers are running so maybe that's what they're all after?

Just 45 short little miles from our house to the ocean and that was exactly what I needed as I have been struggling for the past month because I'm a highly sensitive person who is...well, highly sensitive to the shittiness I have been on the receiving end of from people whose names I shall not mention.

We were so lucky to go to OCNJ on a balmy late November afternoon.  People were out and about, doing the boardwalk shuffle...


...including this guy who clearly decided he didn't need no stinkin' shoes - or the flip flops he was carrying in his hand - just because it was late November:



Side note:  In case you are not from NJ or have not had the great pleasure of spending time here, there is a thing here - particularly in the shore areas - in which people refuse to accept cold weather.  The uniform for these people is a hooded sweatshirt, shorts of any kind (almost always cargo for the guys), and flip flops.
Never a winter coat.
Almost always some kind of hat.

I have also seen people doing this in other areas outside of NJ but almost always in coastal areas.  I do think it started here, though.  We New Jerseyans are always on the cutting edge of things, afterall.

It's a beach thing...you wouldn't understand.


Anyway, I think you should seriously consider taking a trip to Ocean City, NJ, because it is quite quietly fantastic there.  It's dry, though, so don't plan on going there to tie one on.  I am not a teetotaler at all (just ask all the bottles of red wine in my liquor cabinet) but it somehow makes me really happy that this town is alcohol-free.  If you live/rent there, you can bring it in but you can't buy it there or take it with you to a restaurant.  OCNJ was founded by Methodist ministers back in the day who wanted it to be a wholesome place.  For years and years I lived in a NJ shore town that has the complete opposite point of view - debauchery for all! - so it's kind of refreshing to go someplace where obnoxiousness is illegal.  You can read more about it here.

I'll be taking a bit of a breather this week while I try to regroup after a month of chaos...which means laying in bed a lot and probably not bothering to wear pants a lot.

Bliss.

   photo Sharon sig with heart dragonfly butterfly waltz font1_zpsgxy5knqy.png

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

If I Were Rich...

...I would pay someone a lot of money to drive me around at night.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Black Friday & Holiday Madness

Black Friday and the real start of holiday shopping is just a few days away.

So starts my annual Mass Unsubscribe as my normally quiet-ish email inbox suddenly springs to life with endless and continuous messages to BUY! BUY! BUY!

I don't care if I am normally in love with whatever it is you're hawking, send me one too many emails suggesting I purchase this, that, or the other thing and it's over between us.

Still, as an artist who sells things, this time of year always brings on this weird, pervasive feeling of guilt along with this realllllly annoying little voice in my head that says "You know, you probably should be pushing your stuff a little more.  Artwork is such a great gift - people need to be reminded of that.  Not to mention the gift certificates you offer as a way to purchase your artwork."

Yet I remain frozen; unable to bring myself to add to the deluge of consumeristic insanity happening now during the holidays.

But I would like to sell some stuff...which every year leaves me stuck in this conundrum.

And then I will eventually just shrug my shoulders, maybe send out one newsletter, and get on with counting the days until the holidays are over.

Yes, that's right, I am not a holiday lover.  I start to feel true Christmas spirit and begin to love Christmas at about 5pm on Christmas Day and that feeling continues into the next day, December 26th, which is when I personally feel the joy everyone's been talking about for months leading up to the big day.  I adore December 26th.

-Sharon

Monday, November 21, 2016

Big Monday Relief

We installed my new art show/sale yesterday.

I have no idea how many pieces went up because I am so burned out on my own artwork right now that I can't even look at the inventory sheet right now to count.  40?  50?

The install took way longer than it should have.  Usually our installs go smooth like butter since JP and I have done so many together it's like a science to us now.
Yesterday, not so much.

Something just was...off.



It started when one of the framed pieces fell off the wall, crashed to the ground, and broke the not cheap frame it was in.




Then we couldn't get any nails or screws to go into the main wall of the gallery which is brick. They just wouldn't go in.  Hammer, drill, screwdriver...nothing.  That was very weird because we've hung this exact show for the past three years using the exact same supplies on that same brick wall with no issues whatsoever.

I was a lot little unnerved by all some of what happened...especially since stuff like that feeds right into my anxiety personality.  Did I mention that I drank two Tanqueray & Tonics while setting everything up?  Thank God the place has a bar.

But as usual my darling husband was there by my side reassuring me and calming me down and thanks in large part to him, today I'm all like "Oh well, not much I can do about any of it".

After I freak out I almost always come around to a que sera sera attitude anyway: whatever will be will be.
If all of the artwork winds up falling off the walls and crashing to the ground, I'll just drive down there to pick up the mess and move on to the next thing, whatever it might wind up being.

And it's Monday morning and I am hugely relieved that the install is finally over and I can get back to my real life of stress-less creativity.

After I clean the house and do the Thanksgiving grocery shopping.

The fun never ends, does it?  😕

 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Stop Jamming Your Politics Down My Throat

Thankfully, the whole election thing is almost over which means that it's a little late for me to be writing this but I am compelled to anyway because I don't think it's going to stop after tomorrow's election:

PLEASE KEEP YOUR POLITICS TO YOURSELF!

This is particularly true if you are a business or have some kind of public persona.  I keep seeing this over and over again...people who post as their business mocking one of the candidates which has no chance in hell of swaying someone to vote the way you want them to and only serves to cause DIVISIVENESS.


Divisiveness!
Like there's not enough of that in this country already!


It's everywhere.  I'll be happily reading a recipe on a food website and just after the part where I  read that I should bake it for 30 minutes, the next sentence is something like

HILLARY FOR PRISON!
or
TRUMP IS A NARCISSISTIC MEGALOMANIAC!

It serves no purpose to insert your political views into your baking or crocheting or photography or travel or DIY or infinitely-anything-else-that-is-not-directly-related-to-politics website or social media page(s)...EXCEPT to alienate the portion of those who follow you who oppose your opinion! Why would you do that?!  In the past few months I can't tell you how many people/sites I have unfollowed because of this.  The reason is because I want to like the people/businesses that I follow.
Jam your beliefs down my throat - be they political/religious/social/sexual/etc - and we can't be friends anymore.  And that's sad. Because I like the stuff you write about/sell/video and I don't really want our relationship to end but, on principle, it has to because you can't keep your opinion about what I should be doing to yourself.




I am not so presumptuous as to TELL you who you SHOULD be voting for.
I'm not even going to hint at it.  I might suggest that you should vote...but that's all you're getting from me and probably not even that much because:

For one, because it's none of my business who you want to vote for or not vote for or if you even want to vote at all.
For two, because I love having the right and privilege to make up my own mind and therefore I respect your right to the same things.
For three, you are not coming to my sites and pages for political information.  Duh.

Further reading:
4 Financial Reasons To Keep Your Political Views Private





A New Film Charts the Decline of American Barns

A New Film Charts the Decline of American Barns (<--click to link)
In 1935, 6.8 million farms operated across the United States, most with at least one barn. Now, just around 650,000 barns remain standing.
If that statistic is correct...well, that just makes me feel kind of sick.

Much of my artwork features barns.  I love them.



Other people love them. And after reading the article that I linked above I am more committed than ever to get out there, hitting the road, photographing as many of them as I can...before they aren't there any more.

I can't even wrap myself around that.  Can you?

It's not helping that everyone has to have barn wood for every freakin' project they take on now.

Case in point: that horrible television show where some company goes out and rapes old barns of their wood (sorry, they "deconstruct" them) for huge profit (sorry, for "preservation purposes").

I'm so passionate about this it makes me almost cry.  It's not quite the same as how I feel about animal poachers but you know what?  It does feel a little bit similar.

I cannot imagine taking long drives in the countryside and not seeing any barns.
I hope you can't either.

Maybe if everyone stops buying barn wood and buying into the whole barn wood = trendy it will help save the barns.

Here are a few resources for how to not use real barn wood:

HOW TO MAKE NEW WOOD LOOK LIKE OLD DISTRESSED BARN BOARDS

HEWN LIVING FINISH BARNWOOD

MONTANA GHOST WOOD: "Our mission is to provide an alternative reclaimed wood product to the growing demand for reclaimed wood and barn wood while preserving our historic monuments."



 photo Sharon sig with heart dragonfly butterfly waltz font1_zpsgxy5knqy.png


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

It's Okay To Feel Stuff

This is what being alive’s all about, all those f**ked up feelings. 
You’ve got to have them; when you stop, watch out. 
-Irvine Welsh

Please read that quote a few times.  Let it sink in.

Then step away from all those gazillions of pretty sunset pictures with the trite platitudes that tell you to be happy all the time; that you must always press the magical happy or forgiveness or whatever button, etc. and if you don't then you are doing life wrong.

What a bunch of baloney it all is.

Don't feel guilty because you're mad or sad or angry or depressed or frustrated or overwhelmed or anxious, etc.
It's okay to not make lemonade out of lemons; in fact, it's more than okay.

Ha ha, I really don't but this was really funny.  Want one?  Get it here.



I don't know where this constant happiness came from or how it started but I suspect it has something to do with computers enabling anyone to slap some text on a pretty picture.  Whatever the case, I implore you to ignore it.  I implore you to get real.  I implore you to be authentic.  Not doing so buries all of the things you're feeling and I promise they are going to come out one day, one way or another, and it won't be pretty.

You were given emotions for a reason and I don't think it was to pretend you don't have them.
Have them, recognize them, then move on from them to the best of your ability*.  Sometimes you need to have a bad day.  I have chronic pain + anosmia + migraines + other stuff so I have a lot of bad days.  Most of the time I don't let it get to me and I've learned that when it's really bad I need to amp up the good stuff to the best of my ability: anything that makes me laugh or gives me material to make other people laugh, creating art or something else.

Sometimes, though, I just need to lay in bed or cry or vent it out to my long-suffering husband and daughter.  They let me be real and I do the same for them.

-Sharon
 

*If you seem to be stuck and can't move on to feeling better, help yourself by seeking help.
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