January 27, 2013

squirrely sunday

EEK! The last week was so rough, I nearly didn't make it! However, here's an adorable little guy to start your week.

let me in squirrel.jpg

Posted by raven at 08:28 PM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2013

squirrely sunday

So, I think Sunday will be my squirrel day. A little something to brighten up folks' weekends or, for those who only check the 'net at work, a little Monday morning pick-me-up. I did almost all of my to-do list (ran out of time on the dye project, and got as far as I could with the two projects-have to see how one looks in the morning, and need one more thing for the other), so here's an adorable reward. I got this from my cousin, who took it in her new backyard. Love that this guy is having a wee midwinter picnic!!!
black squirrel picnicking.jpg

Posted by raven at 09:57 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2013

weekend: to do

Here I am, my two sweet days off. I tend to get overly lazy on weekends. I have a pretty exhausting job, and a lot of the things I do at work are the things I need to do at home (patch and paint, manage cords, occasional sewing, organizing, setting up zones), so when I get home, I am totally over it. Heck, I am even over doing things like folding laundry and cleaning the bathroom. Unfortunately, I married someone who doesn't much care if those things get done. So, he can blissfully ignore those things, while they drive me insane.
What a pickle.
So, I am putting the things that I must do this weekend here, in print. I figure if you can all see what I am supposed to do, and I don't want to disappoint, I will be more likely to accomplish them. I'll come by and cross things off as necessary.
finish two projects to ship
dye skirt
clean bathroom (including that one pesky cupboard I've been ignoring)
put away fabric
finish bedroom (furniture got all moved, now it needs to be tidied)

I could heap on more, but then I would just be sad when I didn't get every. single. thing. done.
Yeah, I know this is totally boring and lame. However, we will start with brunch. That's exciting, right?

Posted by raven at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2013

weighed down

I started a post a couple of days ago, and after writing on it, then writing some more, I realized what I wanted to post was really much shorter. I also have a feeling my readers (yes, I have optimistically decided I have readers) want to read something shorter. So, here we are.

This whole situation started when I got an e-mail with and offer to register for a fitness quick-start plan. I looked into it, and it seemed genuinely helpful. I signed up. To do so, you enter in all your pertinent information: user name, e-mail address, password. I entered all the requested information, and hit "next." Yikes. There it asked the hard questions: weight, height, measurements. I felt like I had weighed myself pretty recently, but with the holidays having just passed, I thought I should weigh in again just in case. I went to the bathroom and pulled out the scale. I stood on it, watching the number flash as it calculated. "My eyes must be getting really bad," I thought. The number I was seeing couldn't actually be the number. The result came up. I stepped off, tapped the reset button, and got back on. The same result came up. My eyes aren't getting worse, just my ass is getting bigger. I went back to the sofa, sighed, and entered the sad number.

I've never been "thin." I come from farm stock and hippy women (as in women with large hips, not women who attended Woodstock). I could starve myself to a skeleton, but it would be a skeleton with junk in the trunk. However, in my youth, I could eat terribly and maintain a decent figure. I was active in high school, but didn't participate in sports in college. Still, I did all right for myself. I could drink regular soda, and eat deep fried food, and use half the sugar bowl on my cereal, and maintain my weight. I knew I could do better, that if I really watched what I ate and worked out I could be "thin." But I was fine with my self.

Over the years, I started watching what I ate, reading labels and such. I still just maintained my weight, but felt better about what I ate, and it made it easier to maintain my pocketbook as well. Then, I got put on a prescription. I was told of the side effects, including weight change which could be either gain or loss. Foolish me, I thought the pills might affect my appetite and the gain or loss would just be a result of eating more or less. My appetite and eating stayed the same. I gained about 25 pounds. Later, I found out that it was because the medication affected metabolism. So, my metabolism was permanently altered, and not for the better.

I decided to try the South Beach Diet. Which isn't a diet in the sense of eat this way for a little while and drop the weight fast, more a diet in the sense of this is how you eat correctly, lose weight, and maintain the weight. I learned a lot about what I was putting into my body, reading labels, and avoiding really bad stuff. It worked really well. When I was halfway to my goal, I got a gym membership and between the two I got really buff and hit my goal. When I would start to creep up, I would adjust and keep the weight off. Due to finances, I had to cancel my gym membership, and while I didn't go back to where I started, I crept up a little more than I liked. I also had to give up eating poultry and waterfowl because I can't digest them (I already couldn't eat red meat or pork). We found a more affordable gym. I started actually training. Then, I started running. When I turned 30, I was in the best shape of my life, and even got better from there!

Then, one morning I woke up in agony. My neck hurt so much I couldn't sit up. I rolled over onto the floor, facedown. I managed to get to all fours then stand up. I went into work, getting a chiropractor recommendation from a friend, and having her take me over as soon as they opened. I was able to get more comfortable, but the pain lingered and I developed numbness and tingling. I had to give up almost all working out. I got referred to a neurologist. I got tests and MRIs. I got different meds to try. I tried steroid injections.

I deeply regret those injections. They gave me some relief, but didn't fix the problem. They made me ravenous. All. The. Time. I would eat, and still be starving. Painfully hungry. I started gaining. I tried to pick up working out, but with all the limitations, it wasn't enjoyable anymore. I tried to keep running, but it was hard, because the movement aggravated my neck. I canceled my gym membership because I didn't think it was wise to spend money on something I couldn't use. Finally, I was referred to a physical therapist. He fixed me! However, by this point I was way out of shape, and overweight. My regular doctor told me I needed to lose weight. I needed to exercise. I wanted to, that's for sure.

Then came the exhaustion. Again I tried starting to work out, but I was so tired. As I walked, ran, ellipticalled, I could have easily dozed off. I came home from work, and often fell asleep. I went back to the doctor. So, I have had all the blood tests known to man, and am healthy there. I did a sleep study, and need to go in for a follow up.

Regardless of those results, I need to do something. I'm not at a healthy weight. My low back problems are starting up again, just like they did when I gained before. So, I started that little kick start program. I need to tighten up on my food a bit more, but I am getting there. I started taking the stairs to the apartment at least once a day. Since we live on the 13th floor, that does mean something. Yesterday, I thought I might die on those stairs. Today, less so. Regardless of sleepiness, I need to get back on track. I will not buy any fat clothes (outside of the pair of jeans I got because they frown upon it if you come to work without) and I will not spend so much time lamenting how my back aches. Also, I do not want any larger bras. (They are already beasts. If five pounds of loss is boob weight, bring it.) Which also probably has something to do with my back aching now.

So, there you have it. Yes, that was the condensed version. You're welcome.

Posted by raven at 05:30 PM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2013

starving artist

At some point in my minds creation of brilliant (to me) ideas, I thought it would be genius to start an art collection. Not just any art collection. A terrible art collection. The goal is to have a representation of all the classic categories of terrible art. A black velvet painting. A hobo clown. Animals playing cards and/or billiards. Thomas Kinkade. Wildlife on a saw. I think you get the idea.

Now, you have probably seen or heard of the Starving Artists. I don't mean the kind that were starving in their lifetime, but now hang in museums worldwide. Nor do I mean those (some of whom I am friends with) who sacrifice to make their only living through their art. I mean the sales that have ads akin to those for monster truck rallies, only classier. Or so they seem.

These ads proclaim paintings, real, original oil paintings will be for sale for insanely low prices! They show an array of large, framed paintings of landscapes, famous cities, still lifes, all of the bland, non-offensive art categories guaranteed to match your sofa. Currently they shout that sofa sized paintings start at $19! The paintings in general start at seven dollars!! No painting is over $69! It's madness! These are original oil paintings, people!

I've been watching these ads since I was a child. At first, it seemed romantic. Hard up artists just trying to eke by, selling their beloved paintings at these sales. I was clued in early. It was just the name of the company. Much more romantic sounding than "Mass-produced in a factory" art sale. Don't get me wrong. These paintings are painted by people. They are original to someone. However, it's not a guy with a pencil mustache in a beret and a smock, his palette resting on his arm., easel in front of him, letting the muse flow through and onto the canvas. It's a random assortment of people, usually working on rolls of canvas. In some cases, everyone is assigned an element of the painting and an amount of time to paint that element. One will be in charge of the grass below the horizon. One will be in charge of clouds. One has to paint that happy little tree. So on and so on. Say in five minutes. So, the row of folks will each paint their item, and the canvas will scroll through at the appointed time and someone at the end gets to cut the finished works off and eventually they get stapled to frames and packed up to make their rounds in hotel ballrooms. In other cases, each person has a painting type and an allotted time to crank one out. They paint as many of their painting as they can. Their seascape with the lone light house. Their jazz saxophone player with the preternaturally long fingers. Their Eiffel tower. Over and over, canvas getting cut and assembled and shipped, just like the others. If they went to art school, they are surely questioning their life choices. If they didn't, well, there are worse things. I suppose. I just don't know what they are.

So, all these paintings showed up in hotel ballrooms in my area this weekend! This was my chance to officially begin my terrible art collection. Preferably with one of those seven dollar paintings. I figured it would be approximately the size of a three cent postage stamp, but surely it would be tacky. I spent the week building my excitement. Every time an ad came on, I would tell my husband we would soon be the owners of some starving art! Every time, he would take a deep breath and shake his head. I still can't understand why he wasn't excited. Maybe he didn't hear the part about them being ORIGINAL OIL PAINTINGS! Or maybe that NO PAINTING OVER $69! I mean, at least if he heard the last part, he would have at least giggled, right??

The day was Sunday. Eleven in the morning to four in the afternoon. I wanted to get there early. I didn't want the good stuff to be swiped up by a shady motel owner or subdivision builder. So, alarms were set. Breakfast plans made. This was happening. Now, there were a couple of hitches to the plan. The getting going was a little slow, and our chosen breakfast spot was more popular than we expected. Though, we were there, so of course it was happening! Visions of terrible art at rock bottom prices were dancing in my head. I could hardly eat! Okay, so I could eat, but my breakfast was so huge that it looked like I hardly ate. We were rested, we were fed, we were in an art buying mood. In fact, the hubs was sighing and shaking his head a little less, and I think his eyes stopped rolling by the time we were in the hotel parking lot. We were definitely in the right place. People were walking out of that hotel with armloads of art. There was a family of four, dad with his sofa sized painting, mom with her stack of smaller-than-sofa-sized paintings. I couldn't see the stack, but dad's painting was, um, special. We got out of the car and saw a young couple with a floral painting that was substantially hideous. "That's a good one," I said to G. He wasn't done with the sighing and shaking his head just yet.

We entered the side door where people with art were heading out. We quickly saw the 8 1/2 x 11 copies pointing to the art sale and followed them to the ballroom. Aisles had been set up, formed with tables. On and in front of the tables were chairs facing out, acting as easels. Sad, sad easels. Just stretched canvases arranged by size, stacked and propped on chairs. There were some immediately bad things that stood out, but we made our way to the far side of the room to work our way back. I didn't want to miss anything. Empty frames were arranged much like the paintings. Here's the first place they get you. Those prices in the ads? They do not include the frames shown. The frames are about the same price as the paintings. All of them are wide and gaudy. If you are looking for something tasteful, the best you can hope for is an elaborately carved frame that's been painted black. I process that to do this thing right, we'll be shelling out for a frame and a painting. Fine. I should have suspected as much. It's like the first painting sold by Dali to the folks that wound up starting the Dali Museum in Florida. The gallery sold the painting. Dali's wife, Gala, didn't think the price was high enough. So, Gala sent the couple an invoice for the price for the painting. She then added for the lovely frame the painting was shown in. I suspect the people running this ballroom art show didn't know that story, however. They were probably hip to the masses looking for art that matches their sofa, and that these people would think they were getting a steal. Clearly they were right. There were scads of sane-looking people with armfuls of art, snapping up frames like they were free. Clearly, G and I were the only ones in on the joke.

We spotted a black and white paintings of Dolphins with some coral that looked akin to something I might see on a Dala horse. It was definitely sofa sized. What would the odds be that it was one of the "starting at $19" paintings? I looked at the back. $69. Really? Really. It was then we saw the 8 1/2 x 11 copies posted with the price list. They were a flat price by size, as are the frames. If we wanted a seven dollar painting, it would be 8x10 and on a board. Those $19 paintings? Those would be the 8 x 10s on canvas. I quickly ruled out anything larger than 8x10. It was too bad, because there was some seriously, seriously bad art up in there. The black and white Dala Dolphins were just the tip of the tacky iceberg. We maneuvered around the art lovers and their paintings to find the rock bottom priced paintings. There was a decent assortment of canvas, but for the really sweet deal, I wanted one of those board paintings. Passing by some ladies oohing and aahing over some trees with technicolor leaves, we found the board paintings. All two of them. That's right. Two. They were disappointing. A canvas it would be. This is an investment, after all. There was another dolphin painting, this time in color. A definite maybe. Some technicolor trees with texture. Perhaps. Then, we saw what I can only describe as a moonscape. As painted from the moon, in the future when it is colonized. Black and white. We debated. But, the moonscape won out. Then, we had to choose a frame. I learned that when you have a tacky painting, you can try to put the least tacky frame on it. It won't work. While the frame is tacky by any standard, it just doesn't meet the height of the painting. We had to go gilded. We took our gilded frame and moonscape (painted by Craig) to one of the tables for framing. Normally I wouldn't be the sucker buying the frame from the tacky painting sale, but let's look at the options. I could get it framed at a shop. Shyeah, right. That shit's expensive. Especially if you want something hideous. I could bide my time and check the local thrift store circuit for an ideal frame awaiting separation from it's current painting. That would be an investment of time that I just don't have. So, I was the sucker buying the frame from the tacky painting sale. We approached, and there were lines at each table. People really thinking about their art and frame choices. G and I just stared at each other, wide-eyed. These people could not be for real. No one could possibly be taking this seriously, right? I placed our painting and frame on the table, where a worker with a "Hello my name is" tag carefully clipped it into place. I thought for sure she was judging my choices. However, a quick look around assured me that our choice was the least disturbing one being made today.

We then went to the check out to wait in another line. At that point, what the hell? Sure I'll take your hanging kit for a dollar. May as well go balls out. Our painting, frame, and hanging kit (which even included the nail!) were added up. $39.62. That's right, ladies and gentlemen. We spent near $40 for a terrible painting in a crappy frame. As we were about to hit the door, a real gem jumped out at us. It was in the $69 category, and if we had the funds, we would have been required to purchase it. It was a street scene. Like a Parisian street cafe. As envisioned by a drunk with poor literacy skills. The side of one building read "BESTAU RANT." Yup. Two words. On two separate lines. Next to that was something called, "LARAPIER." Yes. All one word. We opened and closed our mouths like fish. There were no words.

Our painting is still wrapped. I want the hubs to be home with me so we can hang it together and admire our foray into the bad art world. Now that he's on board with this, I can surely start my taxidermied squirrel chess set.

starving art.jpg

Posted by raven at 10:57 PM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2013

a little bit of magick

Still trying to decide what I want my posting pattern to be. I feel like Friday should be something special. I thought about a links page, like some of my faves do, but 99% of the time I get the links from my faves, so I don't really feel like they are original things I am sharing. It could be my squirrel day in honor of Narcky. I thought I might do a squirrel every day at one point, but that's very many squirrels. Maybe a squirrel-a-Friday is doable? I need to simmer on that some more.

For now, I will just post and see where the bender takes me. Relatively recently I discovered the blog ofVeronica Varlow, Danger Dame. She immediately felt like a kindred spirit. She is living the type of life I envision for myself, and she is guiding me to add some things in my life that I know have been missing. Things that would make my grandmother proud. In fact, my grandma-ma may have had a hand in me finding these things, since my discovery of her blog coincided with her introducing what she calls "magic mondays." Ways to believe in and manifest your dreams. My grandmother was a mystical type, and I've always felt the need for that in my life. So, one of the things I am working on right now is creating my circle of seven. I think the visual of a circle of talent and love surrounding me will be immensely helpful as I work toward my desires.

Would you like to see your circle of seven? Veronica does a great outline here. Go on and get inspired in 2013!

Posted by raven at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2013

creaks and cobwebs

...hello? ...Hello? ...Anyone there?

*crickets*

Huh. It turns out you abandon a place and it goes to hell in a handbasket! This place is full of dust, cobwebs, creepy crawlies, that kid that was in Jerry Maguire. Somebody oughtta update this thing!

I've been realizing my priorities have run all amok. It wasn't helped by injury and whatever sleep malady has overcome me, but I am to blame, as well. I realized it as the previous year came to a close, so in the spirit of fresh starts and a year ending in my lucky number I figured I better get my butt in gear, as the kids say, and get going on that. I could call them resolutions, and I guess they are, but I feel like these are just some steps I'm gonna take to get myself back on track. Focusing on one month at a time for now, but keeping some of the bigger picture stuff in my head for the other months. One of those bigger picture things is giving this little blog and its mama site some love. I'd like to give the blog it's own home. It's growing up, and needs it's own space. I think that's part of why it's been like an angsty teen here. I know, and the blog knows, it needs to be it's own thing in order for it to really grow up and be what I want it to be. Keep your peepers here to see what happens as it moves into a new place and gets settled!

Some smaller picture things are focusing on me more. A little each day. I realized I have been throwing all of myself into work. That's good for my employer, but less good for me. My health has suffered, my home has suffered, my art has suffered (and by art, I just mean all the creative things I enjoy--sewing, painting, papering, designing, acting, etcetra-ing). I could be all crazy and say I'm going to run away and be an artist and live out of my car, but that's too much. Plus, I like things like running water and health insurance, and I think two adults, two cats, a hamster, and my wardrobe could not live together in our car, no matter how lovely of a car it may be. Besides, my job isn't terrible or anything, it's just that it's not all of me. It's a part. It's a part where I get to design things, inspire some people to make their living space all it can be, and work with some cool people. However, I don't get paid the big bucks. (Do the kids still say that? I'm so out of touch.) Meaning, that I'm not one of the bosses. There is certainly potential for that someday, but not right now. Even if I were one of the bosses, I should not be thinking about work in my free time, nor should I be losing sleep over it.

So, I'm gonna focus a little time each day on the areas of my life that need some love. Some healthy time (exercising--which I so want to spell exorcising & doing those boring things like drinking water and eating vegetables), creating (I have very many beads, fabrics, trims, papers, and more taking up very much space), making our amazing apartment amazing (the bones are there, we just need to trim the fat...so much fat), and getting our personal/social lives back on track. (I hear there are these things called clubs, where there is music and dancing. Mind. Blown.) I figure the latter will happen as the others fall into place. I figure if I start with at least ten minutes in each area every day, that's not so much that I will wind up flailing about on the floor, crying for another martini, but enough that I an make a dent in things. I can add time, and eventually things will be back in the black! I am also spending ten minutes a day writing. Something. Maybe in my journal, maybe on this blog. But something. I thought I could write a novel (not a good one, mind you, but one) and gave that a shot. After the third try at NaNoWriMo, I realized that a novel is not my thing. Anecdotes, essays, poems, those are my things. I figure maybe that promise I made to a professor roughly an eon ago should come true some day. (I'm not gonna tell you what it is until it does come true, so that's where you can pester me to tell you what it is, and I will in turn get it closer so that one day when you ask, I will tell you because it's a thing! And you can say you read this blog when it was a baby blog and stuck with it through those rough adolescent years until it developed into a beautiful swan. Not a butterfly, because those terrify me.)

So, I promise I will see you soon. In the meantime, feel free to make yourself comfortable. Brush off a chair, ignore the cobwebs, and find out what that kid from Jerry Maguire has been up to.

Posted by raven at 07:38 PM | Comments (0)