Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I know a good place for this boot

I've been meaning to update, but I've been busy this week! I worked on Saturday, Tuesday and today - dog training. Meanwhile, Etsy sales picked up again and I'm falling behind on stamp orders. I just got home from spin class and I am TIRED! So, no big update tonight, but I wanted to check in and avoid Blog Neglect.

Oh, one thing - spin class. Okay....a room filled with 30 adults cycling madly for 45 minutes gets really hot. That's a given. There are fans in each corner of the room, and even at full blast, they barely do more than keep us from passing out. They. Are. Necessary. But there's this one guy who doesn't like the fans to blow on him. Now any normal human being would simply choose a bike that's not in the direct path of one of the fans. That's pretty easy to do, in fact, if you sit in the back row the fans don't reach you at all. But this guy likes to sit in the front row, directly in front of a fan. Since he doesn't LIKE the fan, he tilts it upward so that it faces the ceiling when he first walks in. Um......Idon'tthinkso. When you are the only one in a group of 30 people working out at full tilt who doesn't want to feel the fan, you're in the minority. So I said something. And the fan was tilted back toward the masses, as it should be. It just irks me that this guy would do this to begin with!!! WTF??? If you don't like the conditions under which the class is conducted, especially when said conditions are necessary in order for people to, like, NOT DIE, then don't take the class!!! Go get yourself a stationary bike and a space heater and enjoy killing yourself in the comfort of your own home!!!! Sheesh.
Okay, time for me to start carving some stamps!

Friday, January 23, 2009

movin' on up

I've finally managed to upgrade my workspace from the floor to an actual..well, workspace. Up until a few weeks ago, I carved stamps while sitting on my bedroom floor, where the light is best. Nothing seems to beat daylight when you're carving stamps - although I did buy an excellent full spectrum magnifying light that works pretty well at night. Until then, I couldn't carve after dark, which limited my production time. One Saturday it occured to me that I've had a drafting table for, oh...probably 20 years. I bought it when I worked at Aaron Brothers, and it's moved with me everyplace I've gone since then. In this house, however, it was never set up, and sat in the garage gathering dust. "Hey," I thought, "why not actually USE it???". I'm smart like that. So we moved things around a bit, and my art corner was born!! Here are a few shots of it. Nothing grand, but it sure beats the floor.

Above, you can see the table, complete with magnifying light and beloved new chair.

Ahh, a nice clean desktop, so inviting....

My dubious co-worker. I don't know if I've mentioned him. Shhh...I think he has an eating disorder.
And that's pretty much it. If you look, you can see the super cheap Target-bought storage drawers under the table. It doubles as art supply storage and footrest. It's also a strangely powerful dog hair magnet. Made of pressboard, cardboard and cheap laminate, it generates a forcefield of static that could power a small neighborhood. My hair always stands out a bit when I'm sitting here. There's a bit more storage in the closet - mounting blocks, mailing envelopes, the ink pads I sell - but we won't look in there today.
You can imagine how messy it is, since there's obviously not even room for the skeleton.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

leave me a loan

Ugh. Long day. This was a day filled with little frustrations scattered throughout, making it seem very long. First there was the gym. I take a spin (cycling, not turning myself in circles) class a few times a week and I love it. Today, however, notsomuch. First of whomever had the gas, maybe skip excercise class til it, um, passes? Thanks. And then my stupid bike, the one I always use, betrayed me by being all wobbly!! Someone must have moved it, or something, and one of the little feet it sits on was shorter than the rest. It was really annoying. All in all, spin class stunk today.
THEN, back at home, more frustration. Like most of the homeowners in the nation, we're trying to get a mortgage adjustment so that we don't end up homeless. We're using a company that deals specifically with this sort of thing and is negotiating with our lender...or is supposed to be. I've been trying since yesterday to get someone to call me back with an update and it's like trying to get blood from a turnip. Or something. I kept reaching voicemail after voicemail. Then I called the person who initially took my case and told her all the trouble I was having. "Oh my gosh! Let me talk to them, I'll call you right back!". An hour later I got tired of waiting for her and hopped in the shower. I finally got a call from someone an hour after that. He had very little information for me. Greeeeat.
Then I had a dog training session at 1:15pm. This was to a be a free of charge session for a vet technician at one my referring vet offices (I get most of my business by establishing relationships with veterinarians, who then refer people to me, so I offer them and their staff free training sessions). About two years ago we had a session scheduled, I showed up at her house..and no one was there. I sat in my car for a while waiting, and she finally called me. She was stuck at her daughter's softball game, she was totally appalled and embarassed about flaking on me. No problem. we are two years later and she finally decides to reschedule. I show up. No one is home. She calls me. Oh my! The meeting at the vet office ran late, she's on her way!!! Forty-five minutes later she shows up and I wind up giving her a really rushed, abbreviated version of a normal session, because I had to pick my daughter up from school. She was totally apologetic again, and I really believe it wasn't her fault, but ugh. Frustrating.
But hey, at least I made ZERO DOLLARS!!!
There's always a silver lining. Always.
On a more pleasant note, I carved a new stamp this morning, see it up there?
Yeah, right there, the tree. Like it?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

she got the chair

It's a big day today! My new chair arrived!!!! And....yeah, that should give you some persepective on the degree of excitement present in my life. I seriously get way too excited about getting things in the mail. In this case, though, you can probably understand my excitement to some extent. Pictured above are my old chair (metal stool torture device) and my new chair (whose generous seat size I'm grateful for). Snappy green apple color and shiny chrome aside, the thing is just WAY more comfortable. A seat that accommodates an actual butt as opposed to one and a half cheeks! Back support! Pneumatic height adjustment!!
Ironically, I got caught up on all my carving earlier today before it arrived. Hehehehe!
The best part - it was under fifty bucks with free shipping, arrived fast and only took me five minutes to assemble! I got it from bizchair and I'm impressed. I'm not affiliated with them in any way, just thought they deserved a shout-out. Thanks, bizchair! My rear end is in your debt.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

no pests

Welp, I heard back from the pest control company. It seems the bait stations that have been placed in the wash are to control the ground squirrel population in the area. They burrow, and in the event of a flood, if the flood channel fills, the levee walls can break down due to their tunnels. The pesticide is an anticoagulant that causes them to die of internal bleeding. According to the company, it's an extremely low concentration with very little risk of secondary intoxication (the poisoning of an animal who eats an animal who eats the poison). They said each station only holds two pounds of the bait, and that a dog would have to eat five pounds of it in order to get sick. It also has little to no toxicity to birds, so wouldn't affect a bird of prey if it caught a poisoned rodent. Rabbits can't fit into the bait stations and don't tend to go after it, so it's unlikely that the bizarre bunny miscarriage had anything to do with that.
SO...I don't need to worry too much about my dogs, the local coyotes, or the hawks and falcons that hang out back there - but I feel kind of bad for the ground squirrels and rats that will die. I see the reason, in a sense, for the need to control the population. I just wish poisoning wasn't the solution.
I'm ALMOST caught up on stamp orders for now. Sales have slowed again, but I hope they'll pick right back up.
And....that's all for now.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I'm suffering from Careful What You Wish For lately! Business has picked up in the Etsy shop lately and I couldn't be happier about it. The only problem is that it takes a LONG time to carve a stamp (most of them, anyway) and I now have a LOT of stamps to carve. I find myself sitting here at the drafting pretty much all day, every day. I love carving, but I'm dying to just get caught up so I can make something new.
I find myself with nothing new to write about because I'm doing that same thing every day.
So...the only thing about today that was different is that we found three dead newborn rabbits on our front lawn. There was a mysterious blob nearby that might have been it seems it was some sort of birth-and-run. I'm kind of worried because I noticed there are poison bait traps placed at regular intervals in the wash behind our house. We have a LOT of wildlife here - birds of prey, rodents, rabbits, coyotes, and this could have an effect on everything. My dogs sometimes catch rats in our back yard. Do I have to worry about THEM being poisoned if they get a rat who's taken the bait? I called the number of the pest control company on the traps but haven't heard back from them. Hopefully once the weekend's over they'll call back. I wonder if the poison had anything to do with the weird bunny birth.
And yeah.....maybe it's better that I just write about the same thing day after day because THAT was depressing.

Monday, January 12, 2009

It IS January......right?

So I spent part of today at the end of Stearn's Wharf in Santa Barbara, peering at harbor seals through my spotting scope. It was seventy-five degrees, sunny, and so clear you could see all the way to the islands. It's WINTER!!! What the??? Now it's almost 8pm and my bedroom window is still open, the ceiling fan is on and it's hot in here! Crazy. I love Southern California.
I spent yesterday carving while my husband and a couple of friends watched football. The image today is of a custom stamp I did for someone's anniversary. I really like how this one came out. I always feel honored when I get a request like that - to do a stamp for a wedding invitation, or anniversary or some other significant event. It's cool to be able to make something that has special meaning for someone. I really love doing this, making stamps, building a business, meeting all kinds of cool people along the way.
It's a daily struggle trying to make this all work - the dog training business, the stamp business, the family, but I'm lucky. OH, and there was the Toad show last Friday night! Again, lucky.
I won't bore you with the details, but the past few years, from 2006 until only recently, have been rough ones. The horrible loss of one of our dogs (Cecil, hit by a car on 09/28/06), dealing with my daughter's bout with HSP (Henoch Schoenlin Purpura - google it, it's weird..)(she's ok now), the loss of my job after 17 years with Verizon thanks to massive layoffs, and financial struggles ever since. That's the reader's digest version. And those are only the key notes, there was more. But right now things are good again. I think we'll make it financially, somehow. I'm thrilled with the small success I've had so far with Etsy and I hope that ball continues to roll. I think dog training will pick up too, now that the holidays are over.
So..yeah, right now I spend a lot of my time here at home with my dogs and family, drawing, carving, doing what I love. I wouldn't have forseen this even a year ago.
Life is always surprising.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Come and Get It!!

One World Organic Clothing is having a blog giveaway featuring a stamp (your choice up to $18.00, which covers almost all of them) from my shop! click here to check it out!
Ah, so, let's see. It's Tuesday, I'm working at a Toad show for charity on Friday, I've got stamps to carve, there are corgis romping on the floor all around me (one of them managed to poop on the hallway wall earlier, negating the laws of gravity, but we'll ignore that for now..), I've already gotten one sale today - life is good. This year is going to be good.
Oh, and I carved a new stamp yesterday, as you can see above.
Have a lovely day!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Shop of the Week

I woke up to a message on Etsy from SWStitchery that my shop is featured on the Etsy Dark Side MySpace page! Come have a look right here. Also, check out SWStitchery's shop, her art dolls are great!!
Anyway, what a nice way to wake up. Above is a new stamp I carved yesterday. I can't seem to stop carving lately. Not complaining, mind you, just sayin'.
Have a great day!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

First Post of 2009

Happy New Year! It feels like it's going to be a good one. New Year's Eve was amazing - I think it goes down as one of the best nights of my life. I've mentioned them here and there, but I don't think I've ever just stated the obvious: Toad the Wet Sprocket is my favorite band. Without getting all creepy-fanatic, their music grabbed me the first time I heard it, and has never let me go. I've been a fan for years. And without going into the long story, I'll just say I've been lucky enough to become a friend of theirs over the years. They are all absolutely lovely people and it's a great privilege to know them. So, New Year's Eve found me onstage with them at midnight, popping champagne and filling their glasses. My husband and some of my best friends were there too, and I can't think of a better way to have started the year. The only thing that would have made it cooler is if my daughter had been there too, but she wasn't up for a loud show and chose to stay home with her dad (we're divorced) and stepsisters. All in all, a perfect night and a harbinger, I think, of the good year to come.

Is it just me, or does everyone get as excited as I do when they get a package in the mail? I had trades going with two really cool Etsy artists, GothBarbie and LeMalDesigns and they both arrived yesterday!

From GothBarbie, I got this gorgeous scarf:

From LeMal, I got three really cool bottlecap pendants, my favorite of which is this octopus pendant:

When I showed my husband the octopus pendant, he said it reminded him of one of my drawings and that it would make a cool stamp. So I perused my sketchbook, found it, and turned it into one!

So, thanks for the inspiration, LeMalDesigns, as well as the awesome trade! And GothBarbie, the scarf is perfect and is going out with me to a trendy LA bar next weekend!
Check out their shops, they've both got excellent stuff!!! Here's to a happy, healthy, successful new year for all of us.

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.