May's Challenge - late!

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I have been very busy of late trying to get my new shop, Goblins' Market up and running on Etsy. What with Bryan looking at heading back to school, I am hoping that it will prove to be successful. I've been having a lot of fun putting together color palettes for hand dyed silk ribbon and cord. I'll end up spending a fortune on PFD fibers alone!

Today I finally had an opportunity to get photos of my May challenge work - such as it is. The theme was self-definition as an artist and I thought about that a lot. I am known for my jewelry and scarves - which is great - but it is also very one sided. Most people don't realize that I also love literature ad intend to write someday when my life is quiet enough to allow that level of contemplation. (Yes, I know - I should make that time now. . . etc, etc.. . Now is just not the time nor the season in my life for writing. It will come.) People also don't realize that I am very interested in 2 dimensional art and am quite a good archaeological illustrator. I decided to work on something unexpected that pulls together my love of literature with my interest in other art forms.

I painted a 6x6 canvas in an abstract style, using techniques pulled from Acrylic Revolution. Once I had the shapes on the canvas, I highlighted areas and drew in details using Derwent Colorsoft color pencils and applied a thick textured layer of High Gloss gel medium. I'm still contemplating what the canvas needs next as I am dissatisfied with the high gloss layer and the amount of detail. I think I may need to apply some transparent gesso and repaint and draw in some more detail. It is certainly not finished yet.

The back of the canvas has a 4x4 inch opening that I built a little oxplow book for. The book opens two ways. (I learned to make oxplow books from Alysa Golden's Unique Handmade Books) In one "half " of the book I have written H.D.'s The Helmsman, one of my favorite poems and a style of poetry that I greatly admire. The other half I have titled "What Georgia Had to Say About Flowers and Dirt and Bones." It contains three quotations from Georgia O'Keeffe about why she painted what she did and about not worrying about whether or not she was conforming to people's expectations of her work. Both sections are too long to post here today, but maybe I'll throw them in sometime in the next few weeks.

I am really excited about the June palette for the TIF challenge. I hope I get to play with it before August!

Windy Weather

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What a day we had here yesterday! The weather has been hot and sticky - in the 80's with about 115% humidity - all week. We had been working on growing gills and I was opening a new Etsy store yesterday afternoon when thepower blipped off and sky began to grow dark. Ominously dark.

I said to Molly "You stay in here and keep Maxx in the house. I've got to go out and bring in the tomatoes." (I still have 72 tomato plants in a flat that were sitting under the lilac tree waiting to be planted. Don't ask why I started so darn many tomatoes. Do you need some?)

I grabbed my Tevas and slapped them on my feet, stood up, opened the front door and was immediately blasted with a horizontal deluge. (Is it a deluge if the rain comes into the house horizontally?) Maxx started screaming so I left the tomatoes to sink or swim on their own and started closing windows instead. I was honestly beginning to think that I would have to take everyone down cellar when the wind started to let up a bit. It was blowing in every direction and I couldn't see out the windows to the trees that are 15 feet from the house. When the driveway became visible again, I realized that one of our beautiful young maples had lost a major part of its crown and split down the trunk with the force of the wind. Upon further inspection after the storm, I could see that the crotch of the tree had been rotting out for some time. I guess we were lucky that it fell away from the house - though an insurance settlement might have been handy to fix the roof and get rid of the bats. . .

We fared better than our neighbor down the road. A huge Cottonwood was uprooted in her lawn and landed on her roof. She is an elderly widow and has been in her home for a long time. This event is turning out to be very stressful for her. You can see the roots of that huge tree in this photo.

Speaking of Bats - we had another one in the house last night. This is a regular occurrence in the summer as we are running an unofficial bat sanctuary in the attic and game room of our home. We attempted removal of them our first year here but they have been very persistent about coming back. We've sealed off parts of the home where they have access so that they do not get into our living space unless something is left open but the smell is bad on hot days. A permanent exclusion will probably cost $20,000 or more for new roofing, soffets and siding so we just practice vigilance and try to keep them out. Here is what to do if you get a bat in your house:

Don't panic. Screaming and ducking is fun, for a while, but not really effective. If it is evening, the bat is flying and you know that it came in recently and has not had contact with humans or pets in the house you should open a door and watch to make sure it flies outside. If the bat is too stupid to fly out on his own, catch it in a fishing net and release it outdoors. Wear gloves and be very careful not to touch the bat with your bare hands.

If the bat is resting on the wall or floor and you know that it came in recently and has not had contact with humans or pets, place a can, jar or net over the bat, scoop him up and release it outside. Again, be very careful not to touch the bat.

If it is morning or daytime or if you have any doubts about how long the creature has been inside and about whether or not it has touched any person or pet, you must catch it and send it in for rabies testing. Again, catch the bat in a net or by placing a can or jar over it while it is resting. Put the sealed container with the bat in it into your freezer. Call your local department of health and arrange with them to have the bat picked up for testing. You'll have to fill out a form and you'll be contacted in a few days to let you know whether or not the bat had rabies. So far, we've never had a rabid bat but I've always been relieved to get the 'all clear' call.

Time to wrap it up - here's a photo of some things about to go up in my new Etsy supply shop - GoblinsMarket.

Summer is Icummen In

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May did not see a lot of postings because I have been consumed by other projects. I am about to branch out and start selling textile and jewelry supplies over at Etsy this month and we are trying to put in a bigger, better garden.

The garden has been very labor intensive. My husband is regaining the buff shoulders and forearms of his youth and I am feeling every second of my age in my lower back. A rather sad combination. We are putting in Biointensive double dug garden beds here in Fort Jackson. I recently ordered a book titled How to Grow More Vegetable and Fruits (and etc...) after doing some research on Mother Earth News' website about more efficient gardening styles. Considering that Fort Jackson has only about 10 inches of topsoil before you hit an 8 inch clay layer and then bedrock, we thought that a raised bed system might allow us to actually grow carrots and beets for a change. We are hoping that this year's garden will yield some serious food storage for us as the cost of living continues to skyrocket and Bryan's job is ending this month.

Which brings me to the next piece of news. Bryan will not have a job next year - at least not in the traditional middle aged father of two sort of sense. On Tuesday his supervisor told him that BOCES was giving him two options - take a position in Gouverneur (55 miles from our home on the other side of some of the worst winter driving conditions in the county) or go back to Job Coaching. This is the most hideously insulting offer they could have made.

Bryan started out Job Coaching and enjoyed some aspects of it, mostly working with the few sweet kids he was supervising. Job Coaching is a para-professional position which involves supervising handicapped students and adults at their job sites. Job Coaches barely make minimum wage and are often viewed rather as pee-ons by administrators and employers & other employees at the various job sites they have to attend. Often the Job Coaches end up doing much of the work that their students are supposed to do and actually make less money than the students! It is a difficult and thankless job and the people who stick with it are truly saints. Or desperate. Or both.

The administration really wanted to force him to take the Gouverneur position because it requires a teacher who is dual certified in Special Education and Secondary Social Studies. Bryan is the only person on their payroll right now who has both. It does not matter to them that he would have to travel at least two hours a day, leaving home at 5:30 am in the wintertime and spend almost half his monthly salary on gas to get to work. Putting him in that position would have saved them from having to search for candidates and go through the hiring process. They will probably hire someone who has one of the needed certifications and make that person jump through multiple bureaucratic "provisional certification" hoops until they finish coursework and testing to qualify for "Professional Certification" in the missing area. That is an expensive pain in the bum - thank you NCLB & NYS Dept. of Education.

Luckily, Bry has been contemplating going back to school to get his counseling license for several years now and had finally decided on Sunday that he definitely wants to do that soon. This insultingly impossible offer from BOCES makes it easier to walk away from the stability of having a traditional Education job. Now we just need to figure out how to get him into the program he wants quickly, how to pay for it and how to pay our bills for the next two years as he finishes school!

Well - We've been there before and lived through it. We can do it again.

I really didn't intend for this post to turn into a rant against heartless administrators.

I was going to say YAY! for me because my Bamboo scarf is currently being featured in a treasury titled Fabulous Fringe at Etsy. Check it out - there are lots of gorgeous things there. Buy something from my Etsy shop while you are there. We're going to need the cash! LOL!

Off to photograph some recent work (including what little I've done on May's TIF challenge), dye some silk and get some stuff ready for my new Etsy store - hoping open by June 20th.
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