3-28-2007 Art Week

Hello again-
Writing is rewarding myself- I’ve been “being good” today- working on bills, I just scheduled my flight to Baltimore, don’t think there’s really time to call the IRS for help with the taxes- tomorrow. Enough stress for today.
The fourth week of March is National Art Week, and the 25th to the 31st is National Cleaning Week, and we are closing in on the end of March. Tomorrow starts the Borrowed Days:
March borrowed from April
Three days and they were ill
The first was snow and sleet
The next was cold and wet
The third was such a freeze
The bird’s nests stuck to trees.
Well, let’s hope not.

Today, March 28th, the ancients celebrated Gaia. It’s also “Something on a Stick Day”. Thursday’s the anniversary of the invention of Coca Cola. Friday is Hot Dog Day, Saturday is Tater Day It’s lucky to say “Hares, Hares” aloud when you go to bed on the last day of the month, and say “Rabbits, Rabbits” when you get up on the first day. That holds for any month- but seems most appropriate this month. Sunday is April Fools Day, and Palm Sunday, April 2nd is Peanut-butter and Jelly Day, and Passover starts on the 3d. Hope you find something to celebrate.

The weather has been warmish and damp. It’s been “fine spring weather”- some times in the thirties sometimes in the fifties, or even sixties. And there’s been drizzle- we now must start thinking about the roof again. And the septic system, sigh. But we did get the goat fence re-strung, much to the goats disgust- they preferred the freedom to nibble any tree that took their fancy. Now their aversion to being shocked keeps them in the fence. Willow and Kat did the actual re-stringing, while I just got the materials, and other than that buckled down and painted. (more on that later)

The big excitement is that Avi had her baby, and Kate Richards (my brother Bob’s daughter) had her baby too. She had hers first actually- last Thursday, although I didn’t hear until Monday. He’s named Connor Robert Richards.
Avi and Trevor had a girl, yesterday night at 8. We were over there with the grandparents and relatives by 9:45, because they were only in Nashua (and Trevor called us at 9 and didn’t tell us not to come). I’d send pictures, but they both basically look like babies- pink and cute. We’re going to have to wait until they are older and start communicating to find out who they really are. Meanwhile we just get to bask in their cuteness.
Oh, and they named her Bianca, but are still thinking about the middle name. When we were there last night she was still named after her grandmother who never got her name on her birth certificate and was legally Baby Girl Hart.
Willow’s been doing a lot of thinking about how breeding has major impacts on relationships between friends. They take time and attention away from the parents old friends, but it’s still better if the parents are totally obsessed with the kids. I suppose that’s why people with kids start hanging with other parents.
Here’s a thought for you: If you were a fairy godparent- what gift/wish would you give a child? I was thinking the ability to enjoy the good bits that are in between the difficult bits, and not get bogged down worrying about problems and pains of the past and future. I think I’d call that Resilience.

Birth and Death- this week one of the artists Willow has really enjoyed died- Drew Hayes, who drew Poison Elves died. He’d stopped drawing his comic last year I think, and the replacement artist just wasn’t as good. Apparently he had some rare disease that made it hard to draw. He was only 37. I think he was one of the artists Willow got to meet when she went to the comics convention in Chicago. I guess this may spur her to get to more things she wants to do.

This weekend we went to an SCA event- the Northern Lights Arts Pentathlon. I had been thinking that I should check out the arts competitions again, having avoided them for about 20 years because they were such horror shows back then. I figured I’d wet me feet by judging rather than competing, because I was confident about my ability to look at things, and not so much about my ability to document to whatever level is being used now.
It worked as I’d hoped- the art being produced these days is gorgeous, and the organization is much improved, and so is the courtesy evident. Each entrant was given a space and entered as much as he or she wanted to- they started calling them Pentathlons years ago- on the theory people would compete in 5 areas of the about 30 available. I think most people actually only entered two or three categories- mostly because of the level of documentation expected I’m guessing. Back in the bad old days judges pretended to know everything- which led to the abuse that drove me off, but that changed. They figured out that the entrant had to show where he got his ideas, and people talk about that information being possible to put on a 3×5 card. Most of the ones I saw had folders for each entry, with several pages. As I judge I liked the ones with pictures of the period objects that inspired their attempt, and they also put in what their materials and process and research was- anything that didn’t show I suppose. So I guess now I should plan to enter an arts competition myself- when I have time to gather the documentation. Sadly, it’s a major challenge for me to remember where all the bits and pieces I put together came from since it’s over decades.
Probably the most exciting thing that happened was when I connected two entries. One woman had done a gorgeous brooch in enamel- which I was judging, because I was judging accessories. She’d also done a hanging bowl with enameled escutcheons, and I was very excited to see it. Ælfwine and I had always wanted to make one of those. They were very common in burials, and lovely and useful as well. The artist and I talked about how many of them have been found with little sculptures inside, for which archeologists are not willing to commit to an interpretation- although they have guessed that these hanging bowls may have been used as lamps. (But why have a little metal fish or deer or whatever in your lamp reservoir?) Another lady had carved a simple soapstone lamp, and when you came by would light it to show you how much light it gave. She kept blowing it out because the wick, which rested on the side of the bowl, made the bowl heat up too much. Ding! If the wick was resting instead on a piece of metal in the center of the bowl, not only would it keep it centered, you’d be able to continue to touch the outside of the bowl. Three cheers for reconstructional archeology!

I’ve been trying to catch up on old commissions I haven’t finished yet. I have to get the bodies done on Joanna and Scott and ship the painting down before I go. I don’t want to try to wrestle it through the airports. But the airline says that the paints are fine if they are within weight and size allowances. I’d heard that they were confiscating toothpaste and anything in tubes, and since a tube of paint can run $10-15, I didn’t want to have to get a new set down there, much less have them confiscated.
I tell you what you probably already know or don’t care- but while voice mail or other “select this option” automated “help” may be useful for the providers, it sure is a bitch for people who just want a simple answer- especially when what you are asking isn’t a typical question and you know it, but have to go through all their options before you finally get to a human being! It takes us so much longer I find it really hard to think there is any efficiency involved. Next week I hope to get the painting done of the fellow who got it for the Public TV auction- quick before the next one. (They just called hoping for another- and I said yes. In theory it’s advertising, but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten any interest from it.) I was supposed to have delivered Master Henry his embroidered napkins at the Pent- we’ve been missing each other for two years, or if we were both at the same event I’d forget to bring them. And then I lost one, and had to make another- which I didn’t quite finish, so he still has only one. But I was trying to finish the miniature of Spike (from Buffy) for Suz from Brigit’s Hearth. It was barter, and she’d already sent me the hat in exchange, but something about Marsden’s cheekbones has just eluded me. Every time I remembered it, I didn’t get the likeness- sometimes he’d look like Brad Pitt, sometimes like Andrew for goodness sakes! And catching a likeness is usually SO easy for me! Finally I finished that- and e-mailed her pictures (now got to ship the miniature), and she asked me to send her 10 miniatures of Jack Sparrow to sell at a pirate festival she’s doing (and Captain Hook, and Will Turner). Jack has always been easy for me, so that should be fairly pleasant work.

Today we finished the Pennsic application- with the usual complications- for some reason when the insurance people sent us the form showing Coopers Lake on the Insurance, it stretched out so the page ran almost a yard long- with the letters stretched out too. Weird looking! (Had to call and request another try.) But still, yay for fax machines. Anything that saves gas seems like a good idea to me.

I’ve started researching the workshops I’ll be doing this spring. The biggest challenge for me emotionally is the one on what I learned while Ælfwine had cancer. This means I’m planning on going over my journals for those years- I don’t feel up to tackling that yet. It’s hard enough going over my journals to try to tack down info for doing the taxes (and that deadline is first). So I’m starting with the easy stuff- because while we were going through it I discovered that medical discoveries come really fast I figured I should take a peek and see what important new things have come up since I stopped looking at the cancer scene. So far I have read a couple of books on the pharmaceutical industry. Yes, they are making egregious profits- especially when you consider that their business is closely tied to healing. But people keep forgetting that once you have defined something as a business, making money becomes an important, if not the most important aspect of that business. In fact you really have to be really clear about that- to say, for example “our plan is to make enough to support ourselves while providing these products that will help people, and to encourage others to join in this”. If you don’t have that right up front, it’s far too easy to lose sight of the part that’s creating healing products- those products become merely a way to make the business grow. The result is situations such as we have now where the companies choose to create that treat rather than cure, because treating is permanent and curing ends the ability to make any money from that patient. I keep running across interesting bits- like the head of Merck (in the 70s) saying he really would prefer selling drugs to healthy people because there are more of them, which is pretty much what we have these days where most prescriptions are for treating normal, if unpleasant, conditions like arthritis, menopause, allergies, and depression, or reducing blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, increasing hair or erections, or bone mass.
As I’ve said before, during the huge debate about how to pay for the dozen prescriptions most old people take, all the attention has been on how paying for them is hard, and none I’ve seen is on whether all these pills actually should be taken. That each patient is not being prescribed medication that they don’t absolutely need is taken as a given, with the assumption that the doctor, the patient, and all sorts of watch dog agencies will be making sure that this is not an issue. But it is NOT a given. In fact, when actually checked, it is pretty clear that the information doctors and patients base their decisions on is often very flawed, and the agencies are powerless
to help for various reasons (not all, although occasionally, because of corruption). When looked at individually, it is rare that every prescription is worth the money and side effects given the benefit. But somehow I doubt that one by one checking for risk-benefit balance is going to fix the huge problem. And that’s even without dealing with the specific case of how cancer has become such a huge part of the medical reality for modern people.
Of course, it could be a moot question. This week I finally got around to watching An Inconvenient Truth- the Gore movie on Global Warning. Sure the way we deal with medical situations, or political situations, or educate our kids, or recognize human rights are all important. Even art is important as we must feed our souls, or why bother living? But still, that all fades into insignificance in certain circumstances. Hurricane Katrina changed the perspective on deadlines, and food additives and all sorts of important things when it blew through. When it comes down to it, eating, and finding shelter always takes precedence, and if we don’t deal with it because we are sorry for the poor polar bears (which I am NOT- they are weasels, and if things are dying, they are not among the ones I’m going to mourn) drowning because their ice flows are melting, then we are still going to have to deal with water levels rising. I guess most people are of the opinion that they don’t need to worry if it doesn’t rise over any land they own, but frankly, I can see how it all works together, and wish we’d be more responsible. I worry that a lot of people may just be putting it out of their minds because they figure it’s too big a problem, so they’ll just deal with other things that seem more possible to address.
I know that I often fall into that trap- it’s easier to make dinner or do the laundry or catch up on old commissions than to get to the taxes, and we DO have to eat, we do need clean clothes, and how will we make money if I don’t work? But deadlines are deadlines, and pretending it isn’t going to happen won’t stop it. Maybe we’re all just hoping that we’ll die of something else before we have to deal with it. But what about Connor and Bianca?
I don’t want to get all focussed on one thing- no matter how important- and try to run my life to attempt to create changes I probably can’t make, but at the same time, I do want to create a balanced life that takes all the many parts of the world into account. After all, any of us could die tomorrow from some perfectly normal cause. It’s not like “doing everything right” is going to make you live longer- the point is to live better while we’re here. To be productive, to enjoy life, to learn… If we do that, even if our lives are short, and sometimes painful, at least we’ll have the good parts.

I’m still trying to figure out how to best use my many skills and talents- of which I have so many it’s practically embarrassing, to best serve my family and my fellow man- and, of course, make a living. You’d think it would be easier to make money if you’re smart and talented- but the key is, you can’t sell something unless someone else wants it, and can afford it, and the two of you can find each other!

The girls saw a matinee of Dead Silence while doing the errands this week. It’s about dolls that rip out your tongue if you scream, and they took Xander (Willow’s doll) along with them. We watched the last episodes of Buffy this week, which I especially enjoyed as I hadn’t seen them. Back when they were on (and Bruce was taping them for me) I felt so bummed that it was coming to an end- possibly because it was as
Ælfwine was dying) that I never watched them. It was a good show. It’s also nice to have Angel episodes to carry it on. I did note that David Borianis was aging when he showed up for the finale of Buffy, which doesn’t show so much in his show because as his character develops, it doesn’t seem odd that he would change physically. But when someone’s supposed to be an “ageless” vampire, the fact that he looks a few years older after a few years is a bit disconcerting.
We also watched Flushed Away this week, which I liked more than I’d expected to, since I don’t like that style of claymation, but I liked the writing and acting. I finally made a “Chocolate Bomb” with the pudding mold Kat brought me back from England. I was depressed and felt like baking, so I made a batch of cupcakes, but could only find one set of pans, so I put the rest of the batter in the mold. It’s a 6 inch sphere, and came out beautifully round. I frosted it in chocolate, but I was thinking it would also be cool to decorate it like the earth- don’t know whether I’m being influenced by Inconvenient Truth or the novelties in Firefly. (which were apparently ice cream spheres dangling from a string on a stick. Poor River observed “My food is problematic.” and Jayne mocked her “mind-readin’ genius and she can’t eat a Frozen Planet!”) I wonder how I could hang a cake from a string…? Still, with a smooth glaze, it makes a wonderful “chocolate grenade”. It’s so sad, I love baking, but at the same time, I feel like I’m doing bad things to people when I give them sugar. Still, as I read this week, baking is probably better for me than anti-depressants. Compared to placebos- most anti-depressants are only 1 percent more effective at making someone less depressed. Considering the side effects, it seems to me that people should try things (like baking) that have cheered them up in the past. I think maybe the big problem is that depression isn’t totally chemical (as those who promote medication would have you think). Sometimes it’s that there’s something wrong with your life. And if what’s wrong is that you’re alone because you’re so fat you can’t do many things you’d enjoy, eating is a bad way to deal with it. If you are depressed because you’re broke, nothing that requires you to spend money is going to help. If your husband is beating on you, or the kids in school are little shits who constantly insult you, working on your self esteem isn’t going to help- you’ve got to get out of there. Sometimes you just have problems that need fixing, and changing the chemical balance, or “learning to deal with it” isn’t going to help.

Well, back to work. Keep doing things that make you happy. And let me know how you’re doing.
“You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings.”

Pearl S. Buck

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