Thursday, December 31, 2009

end of the line for 2009


As evidenced above, I am not too old to play with dolls. This is a paper art doll I created with the hand carved paper doll template I made a few days ago. I'm having way too much fun with it!


The last morning of 2009 finds me nestled in bed, laptop on my stomach, browsing the net and listening to the morning news.
It's been a turbulent year. It started off perfectly, with me standing onstage with Toad the Wet Sprocket, popping open a bottle of champagne and wishing them all a happy new year. Definitely an excellent way to begin a year.
After that, though, things got a little more difficult. The main struggle for us has been with finances - trying to get a loan modification so we can keep our home, reeling with disappointment after the company who was supposed to help us with said modification (Green Credit Solutions, who became Guardian Credit Solution before disappearing with a LOT of our money and never getting resolution for us...google them, you'll see lots of stories about people who got burned by them) left us high and dry. Our lender is still working with us, though, and I think we'll be getting this worked out soon.

Then there's the dog training business. I've owned it for about 3 years, and each year I've made less money than the previous. I bought it just as the economy tanked and it's been a source of a lot of heartache and stress ever since. I love the job itself, but trying to run a business in a bad economy, especially when you aren't really a business/marketing type person...yeah, notsomuch. We'll see if things pick up in the new year.

The Etsy business has been good and continues to grow. This year I intend to get my resale license and add more stamping supplies to the shop to go with the stamps I sell. I'll also be adding the choice of clear polymer reproductions of my hand-carved stamp as a quicker, less expensive option for buyers. I think things will continue to go well in that area of my life, and it makes me really happy.

More recent struggles have been my SIL's suicide attempt in September and the fallout surrounding it. She's getting her life together now, and we were really grateful to have spent Christmas with her, rather than grieving her loss. An ongoing family crisis is my husband's father's battle with Alzheimer's. He continues to worsen and we'll be heading up to Northern California to visit next week. That's always stressful and saddening.
Less of a crisis, but still not real fun for me was my fractured nose courtesy of our thick-headed yellow lab, also in September, while my SIL was still in the hospital recovering. What a sight we were, her in bed with tubes sprouting from various locations, me with black eyes and a swollen, crooked nose. I still need surgery to repair it, the two closed reductions (read; breaking and resetting) didn't work. I hoping it'll get approved by our insurance company, otherwise I'm stuck this way for a while. It really bugs me and I'd like for it to be repaired.
So yeah, all in all a fairly rough year - but interspersed with a lot of happy times as well. A couple trips to Cambria, lots of rockhounding, the trip to Florida (okay..not a totally happy time, but still fun), many great moments with my daughter, husband and dogs, some great concerts (Toad,Glen,Gin Blossoms..) and plenty of things that have slipped my mind but still enriched my life. Friends, laughter, art and music.
Here's to this new year being filled with far more joy than pain, success than failure, abundance than need, laughter than tears.
Bring it on.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

and may I just mention..

Yay!! My shop was mentioned in the blog today at CraftGossip.com! Here's the link to the blog, but check out the site too, it's really cool: http://stamping.craftgossip.com/2009/12/29/shop-sugar-skulls-hand-carved-stamps/! So, that was a nice way to start the day. :)

Pictured above is a mixed-media painting I finished yesterday. I carved the stamp that created the paper doll parts, the rest is painted with acrylics and collaged with a few choice passages from some religious texts (read; propoganda) that were pressed on me by a well-meaning family member. I'm not a religious person, but I do consider myself spiritual and I have a strong set of beliefs. Since I wasn't swayed by booklets claiming to be the one true faith (don't all faiths seem to think they're the only true faith?), I decided to make good use of the paper. Recycle, reuse, reduce. And have a nice day. :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

happy anyway


(photo included for proof of happiness)
Well, it's the day before Christmas and we're broke, but hey...it'll be okay somehow. I'm grateful that we're healthy, that we're still here in our home, that I'm doing the work I love to do. Oh..and yesterday I was told by a client that I look like a teenager!  There's still a lot to be thankful for and hopefully the new year will bring an end to money worries. I don't know specifically how - whether more money will come in, or our cost of living will lessen, or both, I just want life to be free of the constant worry.
I've got a lot to do - the house needs cleaning, the laundry needs to be done, gifts, the few I could manage to get, need wrapping, but I just feel like sitting still for a while.
I'm sure the motivation will kick in soon.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December Sale - BOGO!!


Alrighty folks, it's time to drum up some business. For the month of December, I'm offering a buy one item get the second (of equal or lesser value) free! If there are stamps or other goodies in my shop that you've had your eye on, now's the time to pick them up. Mention the BOGO sale in "message to seller" when you make your purchases, and I'll refund you via Paypal.

And enough of the promotion stuff. I woke up at about 4am worrying about money..for the millionth time. Oh, if I had a dollar for every time I worried about money...I'd never have to worry about money again! Oh wait..maybe I would, because otherwise the dollars would stop coming. Right? I'm not sure. Hmmph. Well no one's offering me a dollar for my worries, so it's a moot issue.
I just sent out emails to everyone who's ever contacted me through my dog training website, letting them know about a special I'm running for the month of December. Let's see if I get any jobs out of it. In past month I've gone and visited all my vets, done a free of charge lesson for a vet tech, spoken to a group of a about 100 pool cleaners (to promote our bite prevention program, since pool guys tend to encounter problem dogs sometimes..and in the hopes of getting some referals), and done a free of charge lesson for a dog rescue employee. She has offered to let me do group puppy training classes there at the shelter...but I haven't heard from her in three days. Not sure what's going on there. I've already called her once and emailed her, I don't want to stalk her. That would have been a really good opportunity. I hope it hasn't fallen through.
Seriously..right now I owe so much money for various business expenses that I'm going to have to go bankrupt in about a month or two if I don't get some work soon. It's gonna be an interesting Christmas. So far I've bought one gift, for my daughter. I've got to get her a few more things somehow.
Come on dog owners...I know you can't all have perfectly behaved dogs.
It's gonna get better. It's gonna get better. It's GOT to get better soon...

Monday, December 7, 2009

lean winter


Well, we're into December now and still no dog training jobs. It's normal for things to be slow around the holidays...but not completely dead. My business bank account is overdrawn, there's nothing I can do about it and no relief in sight. It's crazy. I've done some free of charge work - one session for a technician in a vet office in my area, and one for an animal rescue employee. That one is promising because she wants to refer clients to me and there's a chance I might start doing group puppy training classes there at the shelter. If that works out, it'll at least be some steady work me, and a very good referal source. Still..as things stand right now, the next few paying jobs I get will only serve to help me pay various business-related bills. I'm pretty close to packing it in. If the puppy classes don't pan out, that's probably going to have to be it for the dog training business. It's a shame because it's something I really enjoy, and I'm good at it.
My Etsy shop is plugging along pretty steadily, and that makes me happy. It's still not generating enough income to depend totally on, but I hope to build it up a bit more in 2010.
Meanwhile, it's freeeeezing today! It's raining and I'm wishing for a big bathtub that I could fill with steaming, sudsy water and just soak for a while.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cyber...Tuesday?


I'm extending Cyber Monday in my shop! For today, buy any two items in my shop, get the third (of equal or lesser value) free! Refund will be given via paypal after your purchase is complete. Take a look, several new items have been added, including a few clear polymer stamps!
Meanwhile, life's been busy and still fraught with family drama. Hopefully that will start to mellow out soon.
The dog training business is still struggling to survive, but I did a free lesson for an animal rescue employee yesterday and was invited to the shelter tomorrow to do an assesment on an aggressive dog, and to meet the shelter owner. If I make a good impression, they could be a valuable source of referals for me. Keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

going under


Well, I planned to start posting regularly again, but that didn't work out too well. I can't even say it's because I've been busy. I have been, but not any more so than usual. I've just been really depressed. Stressed about money and my dog training business. I only had two jobs the whole month of October and nothing booked this month at all. The phone isn't ringing. I've only had two inquiries in the past 3 weeks and both are being wishy-washy, so I don't hold much hope of them booking. Yesterday Jim and I went out to visit the vets in my area. Most of them say they refer people to me all the time. I think people are so stretched for money right now that they don't even want to call for pricing. They can't afford anything, so they don't even bother asking. It's killing me. I actually want to sell the business, but the catch-22 is no one will buy a business that's not making money. And if it was making money, I probably wouldn't want to sell it. Not a good position to be in.
The Etsy shop is doing pretty well, and I've managed to finally figure out how to use my polymer stamp machine the correct way (using a negative print of whatever image I want to make a stamp of). Yeah, the mold making method didn't pan out very well. I tried different materials for making the mold but could never get it quite right. I finally started doing a lot of reading on the net and saw a few things that made me think perhaps the instructions that came with the machine are having me over-expose the polymer, thus losing all the details. So I messed around with exposure times and holy smoke, made a stamp!! So..my hope is that soon I can offer less expensive polymer stamp versions of my hand carved stamps. Hopefully they'll sell well, and I can make them quickly, and my Etsy business will grow to make up for the lost income of the dog training business.
I think the meds I've used for years (I have bipolar disorder) have finally stopped working. I've been going into major tailspins over relatively minor things for a week or two now. I'm also having trouble turning my brain off at night, and tend to lie awake for hours with thoughts racing uncontrollably, paired with really horrible images sometimes. Not fun. I might have to break down and try a new medication. I HATE doing that. Dealing with side effects, waiting to see if it's working, moving on to another one if that one doesn't work. It's a nightmare. But if this medication isn't working anymore, my life will be a nightmare anyway, so I don't have much of a choice.
So...yeah. Today I'm stressed because I have a lot of carving to catch up on, but want time to master the polymer stamp making so I can start listing those before the holidays. Guess I need to get myself caught up and then perhaps close the shop for a day or two while I get some stamps made.
Better get to work!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

If at first you don't succeed..do it a different way!


So..several months ago I purchased a stamp-making kit. It allows you to make clear acrylic stamps using photopolymer and a negative of your artwork. It sounded so simple. You just photograph the artwork, then use the computer to "flip" it to make a negative image. You then print that with a laserjet onto a transparent sheet. Then you use damming tape around the image, pour the photopolymer over it, expose it to uv light and poof! acrylic stamp.
Well...turns out it's not so simple. Is anything? First, the dark areas of your image have to be totally black or the stamp won't develop. When you print on a transparency it just doesn't come out totally black. So someone suggested making two copies and laying them over each other. I guess a lot of polymer stamp makers do that. I tried, it didn't work. After many frustrating, gooey attemps, I gave up.
So today I was looking at my long carving list and thinking once again that I really need to find a way to offer manufactured versions of my stamps. I mentioned it on Facebook and one of my friends said I should make a mold and melt down my carving material and pour it into the mold.
This got me thinking. I don't think the carving material I use will melt...but what about making a mold and using the photopolymer? So I did! I took polymer clay, pressed one of my stamps into it, baked it - mold! Then I poured the polymer into the mold and let it "bake" under the uv light. And lo and behold, a polymer stamp was born! I'll definitely have to tweak the process a bit, improve the quality of the mold. This first stamp is not perfect, but it's a polymer stamp. Above is a picture of the original stamp, the polymer clay mold, the polymer stamp (which is actually clear but is backed with a red rubber cushion and mounted on wood), and an impression made with it.
I'm not sure how practical this method is..but really, once I got the molds made, it wouldn't take long to produce the stamps. Much less time than it takes to carve them. I don't want to give up carving entirely, but it'd be nice to be able to offer a less-expensive choice in my shop, and be able to make it quickly!
That said, I still have a long carving list and spent most of my day messing with this polymer process, so I better get to work!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

RUBBER STAMP SALE!





Come visit my virtual convention booth at Rubberstampchat.net! If you link to my shop through that website, you can participate in the "buy two stamps, get the third one free" convention special. You will also be able to visit lots of other great booths, so if you're into rubber stamps, this is something you shouldn't miss!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

pin up ghoul


Well, I think I managed to look somewhat like my carving (see previous post). What do you think? Last night's party was fun, everyone was very enthusiastic and well-costumed. Jim and I got prizes for "grossest food" (we brought a jello brain), "best all around couple"..and one other one, but I can't remember what it was. Maybe best costumes? I'm not sure. The details are hazy. It was a fun party.
Got flu shots today. Just thought I'd throw that in there.
Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

All Hallows


Wow, it's been a while! Time to get back into the habit of regular blog posting. Today I'm getting ready to go to a Halloween party. I'm really into Halloween costumes and makeup, so getting ready is usually an all day affair. Not that getting into costume takes an entire day, but there are all the little details - painting nails, gathering costume pieces, doing hair, finally putting on the costume, doing the makeup, putting in contacts. It's a process. This year Jim and I are going in Dia de los Muertos costume. I plan to do my hair and makeup similar to what you see in the artwork above. That's one of my newest carvings, carved for a swap last month. We'll see how closely I can match that look!
Alrighty..time to get back to getting ready. I'll try to get back to regular posts.
Happy Halloween and Day of the Dead!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

my happy place


Got some good news yesterday regarding our home loan modification. Well, tentative good news, anyway, but I think things are finally going our way. We're eligible for a modification that'll save us a lot of money and allow us to keep our house. In two weeks we'll know if it's been approved by our lender. So any prayers, reiki, good vibes or well wishes you feel like sending our way would be deeply appreciated. Things are turning around. Finally.
I spent this morning rearranging my "office", above is a picture of it. This is the place I'm happiest these days and I'm determined to never set foot in an office that's not in my home ever again.
Alrighty, must get to work now.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

hello dolly


I've been painting a lot lately! It's a nice escape from the other things going on around me right now. Painting is soothing and fun, sort of zenlike in the way it clears my mind. I finished this painting today. I'm not sure what's up with the weird dolls. They're something I keep doodling and carving. I don't know if there's any real deep meaning behind them, they're just entertaining to look at.
Or maybe there's more to it. ;)

Monday, October 5, 2009

branching out


I just listed this painting in my shop. It's so funny, every time I paint something and put it in my shop, I have to argue with my daughter about selling it. She gets offended, as if I'm selling off a family member. At the same time, she used to constantly tell me (back in my Verizon days) that I should quit and be an artist. So now that life's twists and turns have allowed me to actually sell some of my work, I have to convince my daughter to let me!
Alrighty, time to jump in the shower. Lots to do tonight. Family stuff that might be a little difficult. We've been dealing with a lot lately - not myself or Jim or my daughter, but still, close family. Being vague - but there's been a suicide attempt, a restraining order, divorce papers, locksmiths and much angst and frustration going on in the past few weeks.
I'm really tired of drama.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

brushing up


Well, yesterday after carving a bunch of stamps I realized I was out of shipping envelopes. I have an order in for more, but they haven't arrived yet. I decided to work on a painting I'd started a few months ago and haven't had time to get back to since. It was nice to paint again. Sometimes it's good to take a break from one medium and go back to another. This one's fun - I'm obviously not shooting for realism here. It's almost finished. I'm going to paint the sides (it's on a wood panel) the same checkerboard pattern as on the owl's belly. Then I need to decide whether or not to sell it.
Tonight we're going to party/breast cancer fundraiser. Should be a good time. It's being hosted by a woman I used to work with, so I'll see a lot of my former Verizon coworkers. That's always weird because my life is so different now than it was when I still worked there. Seventeen years in various corporate cubicle drone positions...ugh. If I had to it again I think I'd implode.
I may be poor now, but I'm a lot happier.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

there goes my modeling career


Hahahah!! (I'm laughing at the title) As if!! Ugh. I'm not a particularly good-looking girl, I don't harbor any illusions about that, but I'm really not digging this whole broken nose thing. Here's how I look today. It's straighter than it was, for sure, and the bruising is clearing up...but, eh. I don't know. It still doesn't look right. I know I have to wait for the swelling to go away and for things to fully heal, but right now I'm worried that I'll always look like this and I don't like it. Even if surgery is what it will take to make it right, that can't happen for at least six months, maybe a year. The bones have to fully heal in order to be broken the "right" way and reformed. So....however this heals, I'm stuck with it for a while. No cameras, please.
OH - I do have to say, if you ever want to experience true bliss, let a doctor pack your nose, leave it that way for four days (this isn't the bliss part) during which you'll discover there are nerves inside your nose that, when pressed, make it feel as though a needle is scratching the back of your eyeball, inside your ear, and inside of some of your teeth (still not the bliss part). Then......let him remove it. Now, the removal itself is shockingly uncomfortable (the doctor actually told his nurse that if I'd been a man he'd have had me lie down first, because men tend to drop like flies during the removal of packing, ha!), the sudden absence of the pain, combined with the novelty of being able to breath through one's nose again...pure bliss. So yeah, that's one good thing, I guess.

Monday, September 28, 2009

in memory


Three years ago today our much-loved corgi, Cecil, was hit and killed by a car. I thought the grief would rip me to shreds that day and I wondered if the feeling would ever end. Turns out it never really goes away. I still think of him all the time, still miss him, still keep his collar under my pillow. Grief mellows with time, I guess. Or you grow some sort of emotional scar tissue around it so that the edges seem dulled. But it doesn't really disappear. I spent a lot of time looking at my four beautiful dogs today (yes, even the bonehead who busted my face) and reminding myself to be grateful for every minute I have with them. You just never know how long you get to have them. I hope and pray that I have many good years left with them, but I understand (and I wish I didn't) that you just never know.
I still love and miss you, Cecil. Always will.

Friday, September 25, 2009

and it's not even that time of the month


I have what looks suspiciously like a tampon shoved up my nose right now. *sigh* Last night the splint on my nose came off, the adhesive just wasn't holding. I noticed that my nose looked crooked again, so I called the doctor first thing this morning. They had me come in and yep, the bones had moved back to the broken position. Awesome. So he had to reset it again - same process as on Monday, only with an added treat today; packing!! In order to prevent the bones from shifting again, the doctor had to pack my left nostril. Packing entails shoving what appears to be a miniature (and not really THAT miniature) tampon waaaaaay up your nose. Like, further up than you thought possible. Sounds painful, huh? Well guess what? IT IS!
So now my nose looks really fat due to the packing, there are strings protruding from it (to keep the mini-tampon from slipping down the back of my throat) that are taped to my nose. Talk about adding insult to injury. I'm not fit to be seen in public. The doctor actually apologized to me, saying "This is what I was hoping I wouldn't have to do to you...". I get to endure this indignity until Tuesday morning. He warned me that I might wind up needing surgery anyway, after everything is healed. It just might not go back into place without it.
I'm so bummed out today. I'm in pain, I look disgusting - I'm supposed to be helping out in the beer booth at an Oktoberfest this Sunday, but I don't think that's going to happen. I'd frighten away the customers.
I actually made the stamps for the beer booth - the ones they'll stamp peoples' hands with when they buy their beer tickets. I was really excited about getting to see my stamps in use - they're really cool, little beer steins with the initials of the organization running the Oktoberfest. They bought six of them from me! :)
Alrighty, time to get back to wallowing in self-pity and painkillers.

Monday, September 21, 2009

in a fix


Welp, just got back from the doctor's. He was able to set my nose. It was broken in two places, so I got to enjoy the sounds of it re-breaking twice. *shudder* It's a rather brutal process. They shove cotton soaked with numbing solution waaay up your nose and leave it there a while. Then when your nose is numb, the doctor inserts a metal rod up there and just WRENCHES it with all his strength until crrrrack! it goes back into place. Then he did it again on the other side where the smaller break was. That side wasn't numb. Um...ouch. He handed me a mirror and I could see that it was straight. Then he splinted it and sent me on my merry way. Now that I look at the pic it seems crooked to me, but I think that's the swelling setting in from today's festivities. Whew. Hopefully this will be a one-time deal because it wasn't fun. Now I'm sitting around with a tissue crammed up my nose because it's bleeding. The numbing stuff is wearing off and OUCH!! Doesn't look like I'll get a lot of carving done today. I hope it heals straight!! And that's all for now.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

just around the bend


I had to go do a dog training session today with my face looking like this. I'm sure it instills a lot of confidence in an owner when a dog trainer shows up with a broken nose courtesy of her own dog! Heheh. No, it went well, actually. The day after tomorrow is my appointment to get my nose straightened. Oh please please PLEASE let it not be too swollen to work with this time!! I know I'm probably going to look even worse when the doctor gets done with me, but at least I'll know that my nose is healing straight instead of bent. Bent is not a good look for me. Neither is purple/yellow/black-eyed, but I know that'll go away on its own. The nose, though, won't go back to normal without assistance. So the sooner the better! Come on, Monday....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

to spite my face


Wow, another day, another color blossoms on my face. This is how I look today. *sigh* Look at the top of my nose and then at the bottom and you get a good sense of the curve in it. Nice, eh? And I'm sure the re-setting process is only going to add to the bruising. A case of things getting worse before they get better, I suppose.
Today's the first day I've felt well enough to sit down and carve stamps, so that's good.
Back to work..

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

get bent

Today I went to the specialist to have my nose re-set, but it's still too swollen to be manipulated. I have to go back on Monday. At least I got to meet the doctor and hear about the proceedure, so it's not as scary. Sounds like it will be gross but relatively pain-free. Meanwhile I still look like a freak (more so than usual, that is) and feel like everyone who looks at me thinks I'm a domestic violence victim. I even skipped my daughter's back-to-school night tonight because I don't want her teachers' first impression of me to be that I look like a battered woman. Mmmm...batter.
I've carved a lot of new stamps since my post about the camping trip. Here's a picture of one.
More to come.

Monday, September 14, 2009

why couldn't she just have eaten my homework??

So, my dog broke my nose. And gave me a concussion. Yup. I was getting ready to leave the house and go for a hike, bent over to pick something up off the floor, and she jumped up to get on the bed. Instead, she smashed her giant yellow lab head into my face. I blacked out for a second and hit the floor, my nose gushing blood. Jim said he actually heard it break. Niiiiiiice.
And this isn't even the worst thing that's happened within the past week. We have a very close family member in the hospital right now after attempting (and very nearly succeeding at) suicide last Wednesday. I won't go into those details here, but we've been at the hospital daily dealing with that. Tonight's trip to the hospital for ME was actually our third trip there today! At least our family and friends didn't have to come to the hospital to visit..they're already there!!!! Ahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!
It's sort of funny, really. Or maybe it's the concussion.
More as it happens...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

the number one cause of stress is reality


**Pictured above: if you find yourself using duct tape to repair the bag of Fritos exploded by the altitude of your campsite, you might be a redneck.**
I'm back after another nerve-shattering vacation. These seem to be the theme this summer. I expected Florida to be difficult, but I didn't expect the camping trip to be such a nightmare. It's usually our escape from everything, all peace and granola. NOT THIS TIME!! I'd call it a comedy of errors except none of it was funny.
Let me preface this by describing our RV. It's about a millon years old (I think it's a '76) and is pretty much a heap on wheels. We were insane to take this thing hundreds of miles away from home to a remote Sierra campground. We did manage to sucessfully take it up there two years ago (skipped it last summer due to gas prices being so high) but it leaked oil the entire way up and back. Way to pollute the environment, campers! We thought the leak was fixed, turned out it was NOT..but that was the least of the problems.
The first problem occurred before we even left the driveway. We planned to leave at 1:30am on Sunday the 19th and drive through the night/morning while it was cool. The RV has no air conditioning, of course, and doesn't do well in heat, so it was a good strategy. Except that the battery that runs everything inside (lights, water, stove, etc...) decided to stop working just as we were about to leave. Panic ensued, but luckily it turned out that it needed water and was quickly resolved. Whew.
So off we rolled at 2am and met up with our buddy Andy (who will from here on out be know as Saint Andy due to the patience he exhibited on this trip). He followed us in his truck.
Six hours into the drive, we stopped for gas in Madera, California. The AM/PM we stopped at is always our last fillup before heading up the mountain to the campground. It was about 8 in the morning and the RV had just made an ominous sound a few minutes before we stopped.
Know what? I'm boring mySELF writing this, so let's abbreviate.
1. We discovered the water pump was broken, rendering the RV undrivable.
2. The temperature was rapidly rising and we had 4 dogs in the RV.
3. We were rescued by a mechanic who lived near the AM/PM - this man allowed us to plug in the RV and use his power at his home as he fixed the water pump! We were amazed by the amount of kindness he and his family extended to us that day.
4. After the pump was fixed we had to head up the mountain in triple-digit heat. Three hours of bone-rattling uphill switchbacks were spent with me frantically holding frozen water bottles on the dogs' necks to keep them from dying of heatstroke.
5. After a normal night at the campsite, we awoke to find our youngest corgi unable to walk. She'd been fine when we'd gone to bed...but woke up broken. Saint Andy let us use his truck to drive over two hours back down the mountain to find a vet in the nearest town (Coarsegold). The vet determined that she must have injured a disc in her back because she wouldn't bear weight on her rear legs. Oddly, she displayed fairly normal reflexes in her hind legs, she just had a lot of weakness. We were given muscle relaxants and an antiinflammatory and instructed to head home if she didn't eat and drink normally by that night. Well, not only did she eat and drink normally later that day - but by that evening she was running, jumping, scaling small boulders. It's a mystery.
6. Our male corgi, who'd managed to injure his shoulder the day BEFORE this wonderful trip, re-injured it and began limping. Perhaps he was hoping for a trip to the vet. We suspect that Lucy, the one who hurt her back, bragged about being fed a few bites of my cheeseburger on the way back to the campsite out of sympathy.
7. The battery decided to stop holding a charge, causing us to have to run the generator every so often to charge it. This is a lame thing to do in a quiet forest camping area and we were embarassed.
8. Our other female corgi started limping toward the end of the trip. She's still running around on three legs.
9. On the way home (we left at 12am Saturday the 25th) we kept losing the headlights whenever we stopped for gas and restarted the RV.
We did make it home, though. And we did manage to squeeze some fun in. I did some fishing (caught five rainbow trout), we went on some nice hikes, swam in the creek, enjoyed the beautiful surroundings.
We definitely will be selling this RV and looking to buy something smaller and more reliable. I don't think we'll be bringing the dogs camping up there again. It's just too far from town. If they'd gotten into severe medical trouble, the two and a half hour trip down the mountain would have been way too long. And while they did enjoy themselves, they were also pretty stressed on the long ride there and back and seemed really thrilled to be home. It's too hard to relax when you're trying to keep track of four dogs in such a remote area.
We've been back for a while now, it's just taken me forever to finally write a blog entry. There's been so much work to catch up on, I've been going nonstop since we got back.
And now I'd better get back to it. :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

bite me

Something decided to crawl into bed with us last night and have a feast. On just ME. Jim somehow remained unscathed. I woke up at about 4 in the morning, really itchy, and found bites on my calves, belly....and inner thighs! WTF?? I actually got out a flashlight and looked under the sheets to see if there was a bug crawling around. *shudder* I never found anything, but I did remember that it's time to put the dogs' Advantix on, so I suspect it was a flea. If there's a flea around, for some reason, it'll find me. It's weird.
I had to call the police two nights ago because our next-door neighbor's dog was barking NONSTOP. This has been an ongoing problem for about a year, really. It sucks - they won't let the dog in the house, he just lives in the back yard. No one pays any attention to him and he barks day and night. And he's a large dog with a VERY large bark. It's more like a baying/howling sound and it's awful. We've gone over there probably three different times to ask them to please let him in at night, at least. I think the third visit (last winter after listening to the poor dog cry in the rain all night) resulted in them letting him in the garage at night and things were quiet for a while. I guess they got tired of that, though, and lately he's been out barking again.
We don't have air conditioning, so in the summer our windows are always open. This means that the dog basically howls into our bedroom window all night long. All kinds of awesome. Sunday night was particularly bad though. By about 2am I couldn't stand it anymore. His timing was such that whenever I started drifting off to sleep he'd let out an abrupt howl-bark, scaring the sh*t out of me. I was pissed. So I finally called the non-emergency police number and asked if they handle noise complaints. They sent a deputy out. She of course told me there's nothing she could really do as far as citing them, but she would go knock on the door and tell them they need to quiet the dog down. It's really Animal Control's jurisdiction, and I knew that, but I figured having the police wake them up (because by some miracle they are able to sleep through the racket every night) at 2am might get the point across. I guess it did because we haven't heard a peep out of him at night since then.
I don't understand why they even have the dog. No one pays any attention to him, it's like he's a lawn ornament. I feel really sorry for him and wish they'd give him to someone who wants him. He's a sweet dog, he's just lonely and miserable. Unfortunately, his misery is driving us insane and I will be calling Animal Control if the nighttime silence comes to an end.
In other events....eh, nothing else is really happening. I'm carving, carving, carving all day long. I had to put the shop on vacation mode just so that I can catch up. A good position to be in, for sure, but very exhausting.
I leave you with a picture of me and my younger sister. I'm the brunette. Hahahah.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

decompression


Made it back from Florida in one piece. As long as we're not counting my brain, that is. This is an art blog, so I'll skip the dysfunctional family rant - but eight days with my mom.....

ANYWAY, so I've hit the ground running. Got back on Saturday, had two back-to-back dog training jobs on Sunday, spent all day yesterday carving, spent today carving except for an hour to take one of the dogs to the vet* and then to PetSmart to buy new collars and tags**.

The Florida summary: My mom's new house is really beautiful. There is a screened-in patio looking out on a pond, a family of anole lizards that come in and eat gnats as they climb the screens. There's a huge softshell turtle in her pond and we got to see him come out twice. The second time we filmed him. Found some agatized coral on Honeymoon Island beach. Saw sandhill cranes and ibises. Did NOT see the alligator that lives in the neighbor's pond, which was disappointing. Met several great dogs. Saw my uncle. Made necklaces for my mom, sister, and two neices - pictured above. Experienced the craziest, loudest thunderstorm of my life - and I grew UP on the East coast!! I've never heard thunder this loud, ever!! And...yeah, that's the Reader's Digest version.

I'll post some pictures soon, right now I've got way too much carving to do and not enough time to do it. I have another dog training job tomorrow, platelet donation on Thursday and am hosting my book club meeting Thursday evening. Friday, more carving!! Auuuuggghhhh!!!!
*I forgot to mention that our oldest female corgi picked a fight with our youngest (the dog-aggressive one) the day we were leaving for Florida. She wound up with three staples in her ear. Awesome.
**Jim and I went out for dinner Sunday and arrived home to find three of our dogs in our front yard, which has been enclosed by a gated fence ever since Cecil was hit by a car. The front door was not open. I freaked out...how the h*ll did they get there, and where was Dewey??? Luckily Dewey hadn't left the house. The only thing we were able to figure out was that the gate to the back yard must have gotten left open earlier when Jim did yard work. The dogs must have wandered out of the yard while we were gone. Our neighbor said a girl found them (I'm not sure where, whether they had stayed close to the house or not..) and asked if they knew who they belonged to. He told her they were ours, and she closed them in the front yard.

I am SO grateful that none of them were hit by a car or ran away or anything. We got so lucky. We could have lost them all, and there's no way I could live through that again. I mean I know they're all going to die one day, but Cecil's death put me over the pet tragedy threshold. The worst thing is that none of the dogs wears a collar - yes, I realize how idiotic that is, especially since I train dogs. So today after Ellie's trip to the vet, we went to PetSmart and got the collars and tags.
Alrighty, over and out.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

touchdown


Well, we're back. Briefly. We'll be leaving again on Thursday for our trip to Florida to visit my mom, brother, sister and her two kids. A mini family reunion. It'll be fun, but it's hard to have just gotten back in town only to be leaving again in a few days. I've got a few dog training jobs scheduled, have many stamps to carve, have several errands to do, plus there's laundry and packing to do! I also hate that we have to leave the dogs for another long stretch.

Anyway, Cambria was wonderful. Above is a picture of just a small area of San Simeon beach to give you an idea of the vast variety of gorgeous beach rocks that line the shore. We spent several hours each day rockhounding on the beach, it was great!! On Monday morning we drove straight to Willow Creek and looked for jade. We didn't find much, but did find a lot of beautiful jasper and some nice agates. We went up to Big Sur for lunch and got a couple good pictures of a Stellar's Jay.
I always get excited when I see them because we don't have them down here. Up there, they're just pesky local jays that bother the people eating outdoors, but to me they're beautiful birds and I was happy to get a decent photo. OH - we also got a good shot of a Turkey Vulture enjoying some tasty carrion.
That was actually on Sunday afternoon at the Laetitia winery in Atascadero.
I can't remember if we hit San Simeon beach later on Monday, or if it was Tuesday morning. Either way, we hit that beach every day from Tuesday on. We found a LOT of nice rocks! Agates, moonstone agates, fancy jasper, variegated marble, jasp-agates and many other things we have yet to identify. I'll post pictures eventually - there's lots of sorting to do. My tumbler will be busy this summer and I plan to get a lapidary machine as well, to do some serious shaping and polishing. Of course none of this can begin til after the Florida trip, which is frustrating.
When we weren't hunting for rocks, we enjoyed the town of Cambria, did some wine tasting, had some great meals, checked out our favorite galleries and shops and just enjoyed the time together.
It's nice being married to my best friend.
I'll try to more about the trip before we leave for our next one, but right now there's way too much to do, as always!

Friday, June 5, 2009

vacation anticipation


We're leaving on Sunday!!! Actually, we won't reach our destination, Cambria, til Monday morning. We're going to spend Sunday night in Atascadero, which is fairly close to Cambria, so that we can drive to Willow Creek Monday morning without being all tired from the drive. We did it this way last year and it worked out well. In the meantime, I've had an extremely busy week trying to finish up all the orders still left from May. I've been putting in really long days of carving and it's catching up to me. My wrists are really fatigued today. I got a bit of a "break" this morning because today was a platelet donation day, so there was no carving most of today. Still, there was the long drive to UCLA in the rain (the minute water hits the road in California, everyone turns into a horrible driver and most drives take twice as long as usual), the donation and the long drive back. I just woke up from a long nap and now it's time to carve again.
Tomorrow morning and Sunday morning I have dog training jobs (yay!), and there's still packing to do, but in just a couple days the only things on my schedule will be rock hunting, wine tasting, looking at art and enjoying my husband. The 9th marks our nine year wedding anniversary. :)
Right now it's time to groggily return to the regularly scheduled program of carving like mad.

Friday, May 29, 2009

wired


I've spent most of today working on a birthday gift for a friend. We're going out to dinner tonight and I wanted her gift ready by then. One problem is that I've been so busy carving lately, I haven't had time to do anything else. The other problem is that I don't really know HOW to make what I wanted to make. I've mentioned my rock collecting addiction more than once here, so it stands to reason that my friends are forced to admire the fruits of my tumbler whenever they're at my house. Last summer this friend chose one particular rock from a recently tumbled batch, and I told her I'd make her a necklace sometime.
SO...a couple weeks ago after we got back from the gem and mineral show, she remembered the rock! Since her birthday was coming up, I decided it was time to finally make the necklace. The plan was to make a simple wire-wrap cage for it. The problem is that I don't really know how to do that. I did it once - I made a necklace for my daughter and I just sort of winged it. It came out nice but it took a LONG time. I tried to wing it again today but it just wasn't happening. I finally broke down and went to the local bead store to get a book and some better supplies. So, above is the result of my first book-taught wire-wrap. Not the greatest piece of jewelry ever created, but it was fun and I think she'll like it. It's a nice way to display a pretty stone.
PS: I have no idea what type of stone it is, probably jasper. It's from Moonstone Beach in Cambria. Any rockhounds out there who can shed some light on it?
Okay, back to carving. My fingers hurt.

Monday, May 18, 2009

rock on


Yesterday was a lot of fun. We walked over to the local community center to see the gem & mineral show. I've been a little bit of a rock hound all of my life. That's not to say I'm any good at it, I just really love stones and minerals. Whenver I'm doing something outdoorsy, you'll see me looking at the ground a lot. I touched on this a little bit when I wrote about our little side trip to Cambria a couple weeks ago, but didn't go into detail. I have a rock tumbler and one of my favorite things to do is gather stones and tumble them. I've got a knack for finding moonstones, which is why I enjoy Cambria's Moonstone Beach so much. I don't know why, but I have an eye for them. I was also like that with four-leaf clovers as a kid - I could just spot them as I was walking by. Once I even spotted one while I was riding my bike, and I skidded to a halt and picked it. It freaked my friends out! Hehehe. That was when I lived in Virginia. I don't seem to find them out here in California.

Anyway, so the gem and mineral show is put together by the Conejo gem and mineral club, which I didn't even realize existed. I met some of the members and got membership information. Turns out members can use their lapidary and polishing equipment, learn to cut cabachons, and go on all sorts of rock hounding field trips!!! I had a moonstone in my pocket, and one of the members actually ground and polished it for me on their machine, it was so cool! Is it becoming clear how much of a nerd I am yet?

There were also some odd coincidences yesterday. One was that we met a Corgi (and her owners, of course) who came from the same breeder that two (actually three, but one is no longer alive) of our Corgis came from. That may not sound weird but this breeder is really far away from here in Riverside - like a two hour drive. We talked to her owners for a bit and figured out their dog is most likely related to the two we got from that breeder. Weird. (I know, this is all really riveting blog material, isn't it??)

Another chance meeting was with a woman who owns a shop in Ventura that teaches classes in PMC (precious metal clay) jewelry making. What was weird was that one of my dog training clients kept making me promise her that I go into this shop and meet this woman, because she thinks I'd be very good at PMC crafting. And lo and behold, there she was at the show. I got some information on classes, I think it's something I really need to check out. I've had several artists order my stamps specifically for their PMC jewelry creations, and I've always been interested in trying it myself.

The rest of the day was spent tipping back margaritas with one of our good friends, and eventually playing trivial pursuit (second nerd alert).
Etsy business is really good right now. Almost too good because I have no idea how I'm going to keep up with all the orders. Again..NOT complaining, but I hate when I have to keep people waiting longer than a few days, and my turnaround time gets slower as the orders pile up. It's so funny, because once I've got a certain number of stamps to carve, each time another orders pops in, I panic a little. It's like "Oh no, another sale!". And then I smack myself for thinking that at all, because I'm SO freaking grateful and lucky to be making money doing what I love.
So, so lucky.

Friday, May 15, 2009

avalanche


Auugghh! I'm buried in work! That's a very good thing, but as usual it all poured in at once and suddenly I have way too much to do. I've been terrible about blogging, but it's mainly due to the aformentioned workload.

Today I drove all the way to UCLA for platelet donation, only to be turned away because my freaking iron count is down again. CRAP!! Why??? I'm careful to keep my diet iron-rich and it's been two weeks since my last donation. I don't know why this keeps happening and it's frustrating.

Yesterday my dog Lucy ate an entire book of postage stamps. Today she ate the head and tail of a lizard and left the rest of him on my bedroom floor. Tell me again why I have dogs??
I've posted a lot of new stamps in the shop lately. The image above is one of my favorites.
Oh - I forgot to mention that on the drive home from Cambria last week, I was running my fingers through my hair and found a big fat tick just about to chomp into my scalp. Niiiiiiiice. *shudder*
Okay, must go back to work.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

moonstone madness

I'm back. We had to go out of town somewhat unexpectedly last week. My husband's dad has alzheimers and isn't doing well, and his mom asked us to come see him. They live in Coarsegold, which is about 4 hours north of us in the Sierra foothills. They're about 30 minutes from Yosemite. Anyway, Jim hasn't seen his dad in a long time (long story there) and to see him now with his memory failing was really hard. He kept confusing Jim with other family members, couldn't quite remember that he's his son. It was painful.
There were aspects of the visit that were really enjoyable, though. It's beautiful where they live, lots of amazing scenery. I got to know his mom better and that was really nice.
We were there for four days, we left on Monday. We decided to go to Cambria on the way home and spend Monday night there - sort of a mental health break. Jim needed a little time to compose himself before going back to work. We needed to be someplace that makes us happy, and Cambria is one of our favorite places to be. We spent most of our time on Moonstone beach looking for moonstones and agate for our rock tumbler. I'm a little bit of a rock hound and I get really obsessed when I'm there - I have a good eye for moonstones and tend to find a lot of them, it's so much fun. So we did that, and had a nice dinner and just sort of pulled ourselves together. This is going to be a really difficult thing for Jim to adjust to, and there will probably be more visits in the future, so we'll see how that goes.
Alzheimers is a terrible illness. It robs the victim of their memory and eventually their ability to function at all - and family members are left caring for someone they love who know longer knows them. It's like having someone you love die, yet a shell of them remains, requiring all your care and attention with very little reward for the caregiver. His mom is losing her husband more each day. He's losing his dad - yet they can't mourn and move on because he's still here, needing help.
Anyway..we're home now and I'm trying to catch up on work I've fallen behind on. I feel out of sorts, worried about Jim, stressed because I've been gone and now have lots to catch up on.
Guess I'd better start catching up now.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

a murder-free week

Welp, since the bunny incident, we've had no additional killings. We've also had far fewer bunnies in the yard, word must have gotten out.
Last week I was able to donate platelets - I was deferred for low iron again the week before. Now my friend and I are alternating weeks instead of going together weekly, so that we don't keep having issues with low iron. SO..last week was the first time I've driven myself to UCLA. I probably haven't mentioned this, but I hate driving in unfamiliar places, so I was all proud of myself. Go me!
Not much else to report. Much of last week and this one was spent catching up on stamp orders. I'd somehow gotten pretty far behind. Carving is a lot less fun when I HAVE to do it for hours on end. I'm NOT complaining, though, because if I have a lot of carving to do it means I've had a lot of sales. Sales are good. I just hate it when I get behind. I had good reasons - my neck being all jacked up, a whole day lost to platelet donation, most of another day lost taking my daughter to be fitted for a new brace (she's got scoliosis), dog training obligations...but having good reasons doesn't make customers any happier about having to wait too long.
I'm relatively caught up now - just have some custom orders to do. What's weird is that the shop itself has been dead all week. Hardly any new sales, after things being fairly steady the past few months. Not sure what happened but I hope it's only a brief drought.
OH - just as my neck was starting to get better, I messed it up again. Well, it wasn't ME who messed it up exactly. The dogs (Dewey and Lucy, not all of them, thank goodness) got into a fight for the first time in a long time Monday morning. Pulling them apart was a nightmare, and earned me a nice puncture wound on my left wrist. Later in the day I realized I'd pulled a lot of weird muscles in various places during the struggle. The worst, of course, was my neck because it was already tender from the last time it went out. It doesn't take much. Since then, each day it's felt worse. I think I pinched a nerve. Or one of the herniated discs that wasn't repaired in the surgery I had a few years ago is getting worse. I really hope it's not that.
Okay, enough rambling. I need to get back into the habit of writing about artwork and creative endeavors. Now that I'm nearly caught up on work, perhaps I can create something new!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

there goes Peter Cottontail...

Welp, Sunday started off sort of badly. We don't really celebrate Easter (not really into organized religion), and apparently our dogs don't either. They started the day by catching one of the little bunnies in our yard. I walked out of the bedroom and found my husband in the garage holding a partially-skinned bunny wrapped in a towel. The bunny was still alive but obviously severely injured and he didn't know what to do. We brought him inside, cleaned his wounds and wrapped him in a clean t-shirt. Then we placed him in a shoe box and put him next to the space heater in the bedroom. Luckily, I found a nearby wildlife rehab volunteer online and within a few minutes we were headed to her house. We left there feeling a little better knowing that if nothing else, he'd die more comfortable than he would have if the dogs had finished the job.
Yesterday I found out that he actually survived long enough to be taken to surgery. The vet attempted to suture his skin back on, but too much of it was missing to completely close him, and he was euthanized. That made me sad. I would have loved it if he'd survived. I feel really guilty that my own dogs caused his demise.
Other than that, it's been fairly uneventful here. My neck is still a little messed up and it's making it hard to carve at my usually pace. That means my work is getting backed up and I've got a LOT of carving to do today!!!
Time for breakfast and then I need to get to work!!
~Kim

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

congratulations I'm sorry


So - the good stuff of late; 1.) I was NOT rejected by UCLA last Friday, and so was able to donate platelets. 2.) We saw the Gin Blossoms last Saturday night! What a great show. I've loved them for sooo long (they were in constant rotation in my car when I was pregnant with my now-14-year-old daughter) but haven't ever seen them live. I was NOT disappointed! I now officially have a crush on Robin Wilson. 3.) The Etsy shop's been pretty busy.

And..the not-so-good stuff; 1.) Still in massive debt, trying to get a loan modification in order to keep the house. The process is dragging on and on and on. 2.) I managed to hurt my neck (not hard to do, I have a titanium plate in there fusing two vertebrae together, so it's touchy) while doing some cleaning on Saturday. It's really hard to turn my head and it hurts all the time, so I can't go to spin class. It's hard to do anything, even carve stamps.

I've been having bouts of middle of the night insomnia all week and it sucks. I wake up at around 1am and my brain starts spinning out as I watch the hours go by. Here's a little exerpt from my in-head dialogue last night.
"Okay...go back to sleep. Crap, did I call that client? I'll text myself so that I'll remember to check tomorrow, where's my phone? Crap, it's charging. Dammit. If I go get it, he'll (husband) wake up. Ugh...(thoughts directed at husband)..STOP snoring!! *At this time husband actually does briefly stop snoring, during which time I realize I can hear our renter snoring in his room. Awesome.* *Renter stops, husband resumes.* *A mockingbird starts to sing* Oh, good, nothing's more soothing than a bird who mimics from car alarms and cell phone ring tones. Why can't I think of the lyrics to Train Wreck (Glen Phillips song)? I know I know them. 'She looked just like a train wreck that could've been avoided, in a third world country by a long stretch of farmland where the....' Crap! What comes next? Why am I trying to think of this??? *I'm aware that it's stupid to lie in bed fuming over forgotten lyrics but I'm powerless to stop myself.* 'By a long stretch of farmland where the....??..run the topsoil down the river so that.....' CRAP!! UGH! Stop snoring!!!! *insert multiple financial worries here*".
Yeah...that's pretty much a constant loop repeating for hours.

This morning I was happy because I found all my Gin Blossoms cds, so naturally my car decided to hold my favorite one hostage. It does this thing now and then where it won't eject the cd, but won't play it either. It simply holds it hostage for a few days, always during a time when you most want the cd, inciting much (and always futile) pounding of the dashboard with fists. *sigh*
I'd better get back to work.

Monday, March 30, 2009

reconnecting


There's nothing like spending some time outdoors to put my head back together. It's been stressful around here lately - trying to get our home loan modified, trying to get out of debt. My husband and I are both feeling the strain and we both show it in different ways. Yesterday we decided we needed to take a nice, long hike together. We woke up early, fed the dogs, then headed out to a local waterfall. Spring was evident all around us - poppies carpeting the hills, wild flowers lining the trail, trees dripping with birds. It was a really beautiful day. We packed a bottle of wine and some trail mix, hiked to the top of the waterfall and settled in next to a quiet little pool. We don't usually (read; never have before) bring wine on our hikes, but we were going for a sort of romantic mini-getaway theme. Hehehe. Of course the minute we opened the bottle, three girls came hiking up the trail, emerging right where we'd settled in. *sigh* More people began arriving soon after. We realized the peaceful morning we were hoping for wasn't going to happen, and headed back down the trail. On the way back we kept passing Chinese people! Dozens of Chinese people!! Coming up the trail like ants!! What the? I heard one of them explaining to some hikers that they were part of the Conejo Chinese Cultural Association on an outing.
So..it wasn't the peaceful retreat we'd originally intended it to be, but just being out in nature, soaking up the sunshine did a lot for my well-being. When we got home I carved a new stamp set, as you can see above. True, cherry blossoms aren't part of our local flora, but they're such a good representation of Spring!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

reject


If this week had a theme it would be "wasted time". And that would make sense in more than one way, but mostly in the got-nothing-productive-done way.
Today was supposed to be a platelet donation day, but I wasn't able to donate. I only found this out after making the hour-long trip to UCLA and having two of my fingers pricked to reveal a low iron count. CRAP!!! This wasn't an issue the last 3 times, but I guess the process of donating can sometimes have that effect. If I'd known I was getting low, I'd have started taking iron supplements. The friend that I always donate with was still able to, which meant I had to sit around for a couple hours waiting for her and feeling useless. It was really disappointing. I'm going to try again next week, and in the meantime will be taking vitamins and eating a diet rich in iron.
That was pretty much four hours of my day that I could have spent carving. I'm behind on custom orders and it's driving me crazy. Tomorrow morning I have a dog training revisit, so that's another couple hours gone. Once I get home, I'll have a little time to carve, then I have to attend my daughter's school play. Not that my daughter is IN it, but her best friend is, and we can't miss that. I want to see her, of course, she's like family to us...but things just keep preventing me from working. It's weird. It's just the way the week is going. I have a dog training session on Saturday, so even that day isn't entirely free. Sunday and Monday will have to be reserved for carving.
I did finish one custom order today, pictured above. This was a fun project - a bit different, a traditional Korean Dojang (name) stamp. So...one stamp down.
Many many more to go...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

hooray for Hollywood


I got nothing done yesterday, I'm so frustrated. A couple of my husband's co-workers from Missouri (his department interacts with theirs via instant message all the time) were out here on vacation. We planned to meet them in Hollywood for lunch but it turned into an all-day thing. They wound up having to change hotels, which took all day, and they didn't meet us until the evening. That meant we had to hang out in Hollywood for hours..which of course resulted in stopping for drinks at a bar or two. Or three. Long story short - the drinks caught up with me and I got nothing done most of today as well. *sigh* I'm so annoyed with myself.
Tomorrow is a platelet donation day, which is a good thing, but it's also another day in which I won't get much work done. I've got several orders I need to catch up on, auuuggghhh!!
I did managed to get one stamp of a 3-stamp custom order carved today, as you can see above!
I need a few extra days to be tacked onto this week.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday, inky Sunday


Lots of ink was flung in our house today. I spent the day carving stamps as usual, which of course involves ink. Today was different, though, because for once I wasn't the only one with inky fingers at the end of the day. While I sat and carved, my husband tattooed himself. He's been learning to tattoo for a while now, and practices on himself sometimes.
The weather is weird today! This morning was cold and rainy, now it's clear but really windy. Not very Spring-like, at least for SoCal.
Unsurprisingly, I haven't heard back from the woman who called the other day trying to sneak an extra dog onto her contract. I hope I don't. I don't even want to do a paid lesson for someone so willing to rip me off.
I added another new stamp to the shop, as you can see above. This one stemmed from a joke we have about our dog Dewey. My daughter, despite being 14 now, still wants me to read to her at bedtime every night. The dogs seem to enjoy it too, and they all pile into her bedroom when we read. Dewey, our male Corgi, usually listens from over by the bedroom door, but for some reason he's REALLY into our current book. It's about a mermaid, and whenever I start reading it, he gets into the bed, wedging himself between my daughter and me, nose touching the book. We've decided that, being a Corgi with no tail and stubby legs, he loves the idea of being able to grow a tail and swim gracefully in the ocean.
This stamp represents Dewey's wish - to be a fish!
Happy Sunday.

Friday, March 20, 2009

om...I hate people sometimes...om...


So yesterday I got a phone call from a woman needing help with her dog. Yay! I thought, a job! Unfortunately, she was already a client of the company. Let me backtrack - I own a dog training franchise, so it's a large company and each trainer owns their own franchise territory. We offer a lifetime guarantee, which means a client pays a flat one-time fee and is guaranteed as many follow-up visits as they need for the rest of the dog's life (with some exceptions, but I'll keep this short). That's all well and good - the training techniques are effective and most people don't overly take advantage of the guarantee. If they're doing what I've taught them and truly need my help, I'm happy to go back from time to time and help. One big drawback of this guarantee (for the trainer, that is) is that sometimes a client will move to your territory from someplace else. You, the *insert corporation name here* trainer are now obligated to follow up with them despite the fact that you will not make a cent for your time. It's a bummer but it doesn't happen often. On the rare occasion it has, I haven't minded much. I'm happy to help out and they usually don't try to take advantage. This time, however, was different.

This woman called me yesterday saying she'd moved here from out of state and had been trained by another *insert company name again here* trainer, and needed my help. One of her dogs was having trouble adjusting to the move and was showing aggression toward other dogs in the household. At first she just wanted phone advice and I was glad, because she's in the farthest area of my territory and it's a long drive. I listened to the issues and gave her some good advice, told her to call if she needed further assistance. She called again later, problems had escalated, she decided I did need to come out. So I asked who her former trainer had been so that I could contact them and get some insight, see what issues had been addressed, etc. She was rather vague, couldn't remember, didn't have her paperwork, it was still packed, blah blah. But she of course made sure to schedule a time for me to drive out and help her. Oh, and she also decided I need to sort of "train" the people she's moved in with so they can understand the methods as well.

Today I tracked down her previous trainer, only to find out that the dog she's describing isn't even one of the dogs she had our company train! She didn't even HAVE this dog yet. I also found out she's moved twice since her initial training and made sure to contact trainers in those states and use their services. I talked to one of them and she knew for a fact that the breed of dog she is asking me to come train was not one of the dogs she paid to have trained. She had just gotten it as a puppy a few years AFTER her initial training. So this woman was going to knowingly make me drive to her house, almost an hour away, knowing I wasn't going to be paid and that I'd lose money in gas, and basically steal my services by making me train a different dog. Um.....Idontthinkso. I left her a polite voicemail saying that I'd spoken with two of the trainers she worked with previously and that there seemed to be a discrepency in the information she'd given me. I said I'd be happy to train the dog she is currently having problems with, but would have to charge my training fee, as this dog was not included in her initial training contract with us.

You know....I'll be 39 years old this year, I'm not new...but I'm still always blown away when people do things like this. And man, was she playing to my sympathies...telling me how desperate she is, how upsetting it's been to have her dogs fighting all the sudden after this big move from out of state, and I was all set to run to her rescue. In this freaking economy when small business owners are struggling for every penny they make, she was going to knowingly rip me off. And from what I hear from the previous trainers, she's not shy about asking for follow-up visits, so she would have had me driving out there several times, I'm sure.

Okay..must settle down. I added a new stamp to my shop today - the photo says it all. Om......let it go...om...karma will kick her butt...om....why do people suck sometimes?.....om......

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

bunny harbinger


Judging by the sudden boom in bunny population in my back yard, I'd say Spring has arrived. There is the tinniest bunny outside my bedroom door right now, he's sooooo cute! Yes, I realize that by nature of being a bunny, he's supposed to be tiny. This bunny, though, is tiny EVEN FOR A BUNNY! As a point of reference, despite it being someone gross, note that he's sitting by some average-sized dog poop. **Note to bunny-sorry, my daughter obviously didn't do her chores.** Due to his small stature, I've named him Tinybunny. I'm really good at coming up with creative names.

A couple days ago we were also visited by a gorgeous merlin falcon. In the first shot, notice the dove that was caught in action about to land on the power line near him.
In the second shot, I caught him just as he took off.
I wish the picture hadn't blurred the way it did, but it's still a pretty cool action shot.
The presence of the falcon doesn't bode well for Tinybunny, but that's just the way nature works.
Again, sorry Tinybunny.
I posted a brand new stamp in my shop today, by the way.


I originally carved it for an eraser carving swap I'm participating in. Now that the swap is complete I decided to offer it in my shop.


And there ya have it. Happy St. Patty's Day!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Lucky 13


Happy Friday the Thirteenth! For some reason that's always been a lucky day for me. While I can't say anything particularly lucky happened to me today (oh wait, I did get a discount on dog food at my local pet store because I'm a trainer), nothing UNlucky happened. Plus I had a dog training job today and still had time to fill stamp orders when I got home. Yeah, finances are still pretty bad - but my two jobs are carving stamps and training dogs, and I love my little family. All in all I have to say I'm lucky.
Oh - another dog training perk for which I'll always be grateful is that sometimes vet technicians are willing to do me very kind favors. A HUGE favor was done for me by one of my favorite vet techs a couple days ago. He cleaned my two olders dogs' teeth at a very deep discount, saving me hundreds of dollars. I can't convey how much it meant to me, they needed it SO badly and I'd been putting it off and stressing over it for months because of the cost. So now they've got nice clean teeth and no longer have horrible breath, and I didn't have to go deeper into credit card debt to make it happen.
Yup, I'm feeling lucky right now.
Good night!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Happiest Place


It's been a busy week! Had a dog training session on Tuesday, went to Disneyland with my husband for his birthday Wednesday, we spent the night there and went to California Adventure the next morning, came home that afternoon and yesterday was another platelet donation day. I'm tired! This morning we had a training re-visit and this evening we're going to a friend's house for a little birthday gathering for my husband.
Disneyland was awesome because it was a cold, rainy day. That might not make sense at first but when you factor in how many people that deters and do the math regarding the crowds, it does. If you're prepared to suck it up and carry an umbrella, a rainy day is the best day to go. We walked onto every single ride we wanted to with barely a wait. Because we had a hotel room, we were even able to go back to the room for a short nap and then hit the park again. This is the first time in a long time that we've stayed til it closed. Usually we're so daunted by the prospect of the drive home, as well as dealing with the cattle drive to the parking lot upon closing, that we leave early. This time we got there when it opened, rode several rides, went to House of Blues in Downtown Disney for a cocktail or two, went back to the room, then back to the park til closing. It was awesome! And right now they're offering "two-fer" tickets - which means on a different day (within 30 days of the day you visit the first park) you can visit whichever park you didn't visit, free! Since we knew we'd never have the time or inclination to go back to Anaheim within the next month we decided to briefly check out California Adventure the next morning.
What we did, basically, was walk in, go straight to the Tower of Terror (which we've never ridden and I've been dying to check out), rode it, LOVED it, turned around and got right back on it, then left. It was perfect. And Tower of Terror is my new favorite ride. I LOVE freefall rides!!!
Yesterday's platelet donation was my least favorite experience of the three I've had so far. The person who inserted my needle didn't place it well and had to keep coming back and f*cking around with it because it was hurting me. With platelet donation, they actually separate your platelets from your blood, then return the blood to you. The machine draws blood from you, separates the components, then returns blood back to you in cycles. So each time I was on a "return" cycle, I could feel the fluid blowing against the wall of my vein. It was quite unpleasant, and no one seemed able to fix it, and then the fixing itself hurt and I made them stop. I just dealt with it for the hour and a half. Bleh. Maybe next time I'll try my other arm, I've used the same one the past 3 times.
AND...so hopefully I'll be back to my normal schedule this upcoming week. I've got a LOT of carving to catch up on, I got behind this past week with everything going on. And...okay, that's all for now. I should be working!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

stamp in the box


So no comments on the alcoholic-or-not post? Either no one cares, no one thinks I am, or everyone prudently decided not to anger the wino by offering an opinion. Just kidding - I know no one really reads this! ;)

So today I experimented with a new stamp presentation - the matchbox stamp! I posted the one above in my Etsy shop to see how it does. It'd make a cool gift for stamp lovers. I'd love to hear your opinions about whether or not it's something a potential buyer might want. Of course time will tell, too.
Happy weekend.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

pick your poison


I love wine. Just had to get that out there. I'm also a big fan of the cocktail - love a dirty martini or SoCo manhattan, but wine is a necessity. It goes on the grocery list; bread, milk, cereal, wine..
Does that make me an alcoholic? I don't tend to drink a lot of anything in one sitting these days. I was a binge drinker for a while in high school, but that's a whole different Oprah, and not something that's followed me into adulthood. Funny how that works - leave the dysfunctional, F-ed up family home and like magic, heavy drinking loses much of its appeal. Still, I'd be sad if my doctor told me to kick the evening glass of wine habit.
So what do you think consitutes an alcohol problem? Liking it? Incorporating it, albeit in small increments, into one's daily lifestyle? Or does there need to be some level of negative consequence/dysfunction in order for it to be a problem?
I'll let you all mull it over while I pour myself a glass.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bloodletting


Today was my second platelet donation. I feel better than I did the last time, so maybe my body's adjusting to it. Or maybe I knew what to expect this time..or maybe a bit of both. I think I'll be doing it regularly, even when my friend's daughter stops needing the transfusions. It's such an easy way to help other people. I'm lucky to be so healthy, I've got a high platelet count, so why not? Or maybe I'm just in it for the cookies and juice. Not really. Those are nice, though. :)
Naturally, I didn't get much work done today. Just getting to UCLA, then the procedure itself, then getting back takes a few hours. And although I'm not as wiped out as I was the first time, I'm still tired.
Think I'm going to try to carve something now, though.
Oh, I was featured in Knitberry's blog today! She did a really nice job on it, check it out if you like. Definitely check out her Etsy shop, her work is beautiful!
Okay, better try to get a little work done before the sun goes down.

Monday, February 16, 2009

dragging


Ugh. I'm soooo tired lately. It's the rain. And the stress over money. And the occasional forgoing of meds, on purpose or not. And family stuff. My husband's dad had a stroke over the weekend. He's okay in that it doesn't seem to have had lasting effects, but still...having a stroke isn't an indication of good health. It's scary. Watching my husband agonize over it is scary. Worrying about the day I hope never comes, where it's my husband, not his dad, having the *insert health crisis here* is scary. I don't like being a grownup.

But...on the hopeful front; the Etsy shop's still humming steadily along, our loan modification is in negotiation now (as opposed to the three previous months in which it sat in limbo), I'm donating platelets again on Friday (mental, if not physical feel-good activity) and...well, that's all for now. Oh, we got our heater fixed!! Soon I hope the stuff on the "hopefull" plate outweighs the stuff on the "oh shite" plate.
Meanwhile, here's a set of stamps I carved yesterday. :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

neglect


Ugh. I'm guilty. Blog neglect. I'm in another blah/antisocial/depressed/overwhelmed phase that doesn't warrant a blog entry. Too much of the same whining I always do, so I'll spare the general public the repetition.
I carved a really cool new stamp that I'm excited to show off - but it'll have to wait until the swap that I carved it for has been published to all its members. Seriously, though, I think it's one of my cooler designs. Do any of the artsy types that read this ever participate in swaps, or it that solely a stamp carver thing? Swaps couldn't possibly be exclusive to just stamp carvers, there's no way. Tell me about other swaps that are out there, I'd love to hear.

Are you reading this and mumbling "I have no freaking idea what she's babbling about.."? Oh wait....do you always mumble that when reading my blog? In this case, though, what I mean by a swap is this; a group of artists sign up and mail in (to the person running the swap) a number of pages (usually limited to around 21 or so) of artwork. For the swaps I participate in, the pages must contain at least one hand-carved image. The person running the swap then takes one page from each artist and binds them, creating a little booklet of artwork that is then sent back to each participant. You wind up with a bound booklet containing a bunch of really cool original artwork (or in the case of the "Swapzine" I particpate in, printed copies of the artwork). It's fun and inspiring, plus you get the satisfaction of feeling published, albeit to a very small public.

Anyway..yeah, so when that swap is distributed, I'll post a picture of that stamp. Meanwhile..the Etsy shop's keeping me fairly busy. The dog training biz is sucking, as usual. We're waiting for the outcome of our loan modification attempt. That means we're waiting to see if we get to keep our house or if our entire wold is going to fall apart. Wheeeeee! And I'm boarding two dogs, which means we have six dogs running around right now. Wheeeeeee!!! And I'm so broke I have to decide which bills are imminent and which ones can wait awhile before various privileges/utilities are taken away. Wheeeeeeeeee!!!!
And that is why I'm not writing much lately. But here's a fun, cute picture of one of my dogs.
You're welcome.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

blood sisters

I spent most of today donating blood platelets at UCLA and now I'm very tired. It was an interesting experience. My first time. I've donated blood once, but it was for my own surgery (I had surgery on my spine a few years ago - we'll save that story for another entry) but I haven't given platelets before.
I belong to a book club that consists of 7 really cool women, most of them from the gym I belong to. One member's daughter is really sick right now and needs platelets, and Diane (my friend, spin teacher and fellow book club member) and I had the right blood type and wanted to donate. So yeah, it's quite a process. Donating whole blood only takes about 30 minutes, but platelets takes a good two hours or more. They remove your blood and run it through a machine that spins and separates the platelets, then they infuse the rest of your blood components back into your body. They also give you fluids and an anticoagulant - and this comes into play shortly. It was an unexpectedly fun experience, the staff were all amazing and the atmosphere in the donation room was cozy and jovial. I guess because everyone donating is healthy and doing something that's helping someone else, there's a very different feel than the typical hospital experience. I'm really glad I did it.
When it was over I felt drained and woozy, but still, it was a great experience. Once we were both finished we got cookies and juice, then headed home. Back at home I decided to lie down for a bit because I still felt groggy and a little weird. Just as I was drifting off to sleep I got a call from Diane, who was laughing hysterically. After she dropped me off, she'd gone to the grocery store. Before going in, she decided to take off the goofy bandage (in her case purple with a bright green heart) off. She walked into the store and then noticed she was bleeding. Steadily. And it wouldn't stop. They'd told us to leave the bandages on for a few hours because of the anticoagulant..and I guess they weren't kidding! So there she is bleeding all over the grocery store. She had to go to the first aid section and open a box of cotton balls and gauze and wrap her arm up right there in the aisle!! The cashier was a little puzzled when she checked out and told her "I had to open this, so I'm paying for it." while sporting a freshly bandaged arm. Awesome.
So I'll be keeping my bandage on for a while longer.
And...yes, a totally non art-related post. I did not accomplish anything artistic today because the donation process took such a long time and now it's time for dinner.
That's it for today - look into platelet donation, it's a good thing. But follow the aftercare instructions to avoid embarassing public bleeding.

About Me

Hippieville, CA, United States
This is the story of life after losing the "real" job and the house, trying to find the middle ground between making a living and actually living.