Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Castles in the Air

Not a lot to say right now -- finishing up a large custom bear order and just received materials for the next one -- but Mario and I were out the other evening and I saw this and wanted to share it.

It's the window of a vacant store, and I spent a good few minutes looking in at it.  The whole thing is made from recycled cardboard - looking closely, you can see cereal boxes, Quaker Oats boxes, a whole litany of cut-up logos.

I think it's wonderful.

I did stuff like that (but not like that) when I was a kid, and it really made me want to come home and find the scissors and the glue.

It's a good day, when you randomly walk into something that makes you want to come home and make things.

Okay, that's it.

Back to making other things.  No castles, not just yet.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Meeting my mother

Mom, 1950 - over her awkward
So.  Remember my photo album project?  It's still ongoing -- I've reached the early 1950s, and within a page or two will hit my parents' marriage, which means I'm not too far in the future.

We're still in black-and-white, BTW.

What I'm finding with this project, though, more than photographs and stories, are holes.  Holes in the stories, gaps in the photographs -- and in my knowledge.  Growing up, I always wanted the stories.  Drop me at a relative's for the day, and within an hour I'd find their photo album or box of pictures and start asking, "Who's this? How are we related? What were they doing in this picture?"

Generally, I got answers, but until I started doing this project, in somewhat haphazard chronological order due to the sheer volume of pictures, I never caught on that there were gaps.  I mean, of course there are.  There were things no one would tell a kid, and things no one thought to tell me.  There were occasions not in photos, and not worthy of mention except that they linked one thing to another.

As a genealogy project, it was kind of frustrating.  As a writer, it's fascinating.

Because I get to fill in those gaps.

When I was born, someone gave my mom a baby book.  You know, one of those nice leatherette books where baby's first 5 or 7 years of life is recorded in painful detail.  Mom wasn't good at painful detail.  There are no pictures in the book -- though she did glue in an envelope with my baby curls, and the hospital bracelet from my tonsillectomy -- but some of what she wrote has really set me back.

From the time I was small, I knew that  my mom thought the sun shone out of my ass.  (Sorry, but that's how she acted).  That feeling was followed by the knowledge that I was the best thing she'd ever done.  I even heard her say it, repeatedly, like I was a pot she'd thrown or a picture she'd painted.  She even said once or twice that my father had little to do with the whole thing.  Really?  I think he'd have been surprised to hear that.

One of the gaps - note that the bottom photo has been cut and
pieced to remove proof of her first husband's existence.
I still don't know why.
It always made me feel a little weird.  I was something she'd done.  My existence had very little to do with me, only with her.  I was artistic because she liked to draw.  I had good legs because she had good legs.  Equally, I had weak eyes and bad teeth because she had those things too.

I never felt like I totally belonged to me.

Reading over her few scrawled notes in the baby book, I'm seeing the woman who had those feelings, before they hardened into the shell that I knew.  I'm seeing a woman who was absolutely stunned by her baby, someone who had never wanted children and yet and produced what she called "the most wonderful baby in the world," who was named for "herself" and who got lots of presents "because she's perfect and deserves them."

I just met a woman who I never knew, and she gave birth to me.  After 51 years, I just met my mother.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Back to 'Normal'

Or at least whatever passes for normal around here.

My summer temp job is finally over.  I extended it by a final week because it seemed, at that point, ridiculous to walk away from a place that would happily pay me money that would in turn pay off Ozzie's final vet bill.  I decided to work an extra three days, instead of my usual four, because that was enough to pay the bill.

I did one of my favorite fall craft shows this past weekend, and I have another this coming Saturday.  Actually, I have one either every Saturday or Sunday from now until mid-November.

And, because I've been working outside the house pretty steadily (and therefore not sewing as much as I would like), I have enough product for about 4 of those shows.

So I'm off to chain myself to my sewing machine and listen to something interesting while I saw.  Have you been listening to Elizabeth Gilbert's Magic Lessons podcast?  They've all been pretty interesting, but her latest one is a discussion with Brene Brown, and it's worth the entire series.  If you haven't been listening, give it a try.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Thomas Philip Bear

First of all, thank you for your kind words about Ozzie.  I'm feeling a bit better - it still sucks, but I know I did the right thing for him.

The other cats have settled down.  Most of them will never know he's not still in his room; Nicky, the one cat he did spend time with, is a little confused, but he's adjusting to being out with the tribe.

On a more cheerful note, I wanted to introduce my first custom bear for the upcoming holiday season.  Custom projects usually slow down over the summer, which was okay since my summer temp job hasn't ended yet (soon!), but I was happy to take this guy on, and even happier to send him off to California yesterday.

The one piece of clothing my customer supplied was her grandfather's plaid shirt.  She contacted me through Etsy and said that she liked a particular photo on one of my listings, and could I do a bear that looked like that one.  She didn't have a sweater to send, only the shirt, but I have such a ridiculous amount of sweaters on hand, I told her not to worry and that I would find something that worked with her shirt.  She also wanted her grandfather's name embroidered on the front (same as the example bear in my listing).

So this little guy is partly from her, partly from my stash, and wholly (I hope) what she wanted.

I have a few more made-to-order bears coming, and an embroidered Christmas stocking heading out tomorrow.

It may only be the week of Labor Day, but I can already feel the holidays approaching.

Monday, September 7, 2015

And then there were 7

It seems like not too long ago, I wrote a post called "And then there were 8."

But now there are only 7, and Ozzie is no longer with us.

It happens so quickly with cats sometimes.  Yesterday, he seemed fine -- he ate, he drank, and I saw him use the litterbox.

This morning at 7:00 a.m., he was hiding under a piece of furniture, crying, and when I got him out, he had a seizure, bit me, and then started crying louder.  I put my clothes on and grabbed a cab down to the University of Penn's veterinary hospital (whenever I start hating my neighborhood, I remember I have a 24-hour, world-class vet facility less than a mile from my house) so they could examine him.

It wasn't good.  Being a male kitty, he's had urinary tract issues before, but not for about 8 years.  Well, they were back, and in abundance.  The doctor said he was completely blocked -- from urinating freely yesterday! -- and it was so severe that even catheterization wouldn't help; he'd have to have the blockage surgically cleared, which meant 2-3 days in the hospital, plus follow-up care.

To the tune of about $3,500.

Which I don't have.

Add to that, Ozzie is 14, extremely fearful of people (and anti-cat; the poor guy self-isolated in my front room for years and had anxiety attacks whenever he was forced to come out), and I just didn't see a good solution.

The doctor made it plain that there were only 2 choices -- surgery or euthanasia.  So it really wasn't a choice at all, and it wasn't all about the money, either.  Some cats can handle traumatic events (Lily and Max come to mind), and others just can't.  I don't like anthropomorphizing my animals, but Ozzie really did have some kind of anxiety issues; no cat should pee himself from fear every time he leaves the room where he chooses to live, and he was petrified of almost all the other cats.

So I did what I believe was best for him, in the long run, but right now I feel like total crap about it.

I'm going into my sewing room and I'm not coming out until tomorrow, except for more wine.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Get the sunscreen

My departure from yesterday's show at the South Street Whole Foods was delayed by the arrival of the Philly Naked Bike Ride.

All the vendors hung over the edge of the parking garage, cheering them on, while all our rides waited behind (enjoying the view?) before they could get into the garage to retrieve us.

Just another day in Philadelphia.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Under pressure

This Saturday!
Unfortunately, not a post about my new adventures in canning.  (My new baby is still resting comfortably in her box, and probably will be for a while yet).

I have almost three weeks left at my summer temp job.  It extended far beyond what I planned, but it's hard to say no to regular money being put aside against the heating bill in January, especially when I intend to be happily in the house, enjoying said heat.

But it's hard, as we all know, to do something 9-5 and then come home, deal with the house, eat something resembling a meal, spend time with the people and animals that you love, and still -- still -- find time to make things.

Case in point.  I have sixteen shows (so far) between now and the week before Christmas.  Sixteen.

And I think I have enough inventory for three or four shows.  And that's saying everyone doesn't want to buy the same thing, in which case I probably have inventory for two.

Today is my day off, so I'm taking a break here now and then going back to the assembly line.  That's what it is at the moment -- I have 30+ mini bears with freshly embroidered faces, 8 newly cut out dresses, and a stack of cotton prints and batting that need to be cut into squares for microwave bowls.  (Those are good because I can take the pieces into the office and pin them together at lunch, and sometimes even on my desk when no one's around).

I'm also going to need more sweater animals, and I haven't yet taken inventory of the mittens, but either way, that means my machine is going to go back on her weekly cleaning schedule so I can avert the wool-fuzzy-catastrophe that happens when I don't pay enough attention to her during sweater season.

So pressure, yes, but it's still fun.  I'd still rather be doing this than sitting in a small box in an over-air-conditioned big box, mostly waiting around for someone to give me something to do.