Thursday, December 25, 2014

Was it good for you?

 Did all of you have a nice Christmas day today? I hope so. We had a fantastic day here in chicken land. The three of us spent the day together, opening gifts, eating, eating, more eating. We went for a walk under Carolina blue skies and cool crisp air. We let the chickens out to play. Finally a day with no rain so they could roll around in the dirt, not the mud. Gerry gave me some new insulated Carhardt overalls to go with my future goats. A while back you might remember our visit to the lady up in Walnut Cove with the goats that I made friends with. She had a pair of these and last year Gerry looked everywhere for me a pair for Christmas. It took him until this year to find them. They are amazing! We look a bit American Gothic, don't you think?!

I can't explain it, but walking around in the yard this afternoon, I had the greatest sense of contentment come over me. My chickens were pecking around, I was cleaning out the coop and getting fresh water in my new pink puffy suit on Christmas day, and I could not have been happier. I was dirty, the air was cold, it was quiet all around, the sun was shining, Gerry and Wesley were inside in their worlds and I was at peace. What more does a person need?

i gave Wesley a new bowl from my pal Barbara. We made Tibetan noodle soup last night for our Christmas Eve dinner and had leftovers for lunch today. I used to make the most elaborate meals on Christmas Eve, I look back on those days and shudder. It almost never went well and I was so tired by the end of the day, it hardly seemed worth it. Who can keep up with Martha Stewart anyhow?!
A bowl of noodle soup is so much better!

Gerry gave me a new Macbook Air, since my poor old dinosaur has died and he was tired of listening to me bitch about trying to blog with my iPad. This is one sweet little computer and blogging is now efficient and easy again. Hello, blog...... hello keyboard. Hello easy photo editing....

My girl is off to San Francisco in the morning. Her Christmas present. We are getting up at 3:45am to get her to her flight on time... ugh. It has been a lovely week having her home. Now a week on the west coast and then back here for one more week before school starts back. A nice balance.....
when did I get so short? I look like a puff ball in my carhardts, but I don't care, they feel so great!

Wishing you all a very wonderful holiday season. I survived quite well emotionally this year, thanks to very little contact with those that cause me to go into fits of rage, and spending time with those who make me feel loved and necessary. Thanks to those of you that do that :)
Thanks mostly to Gerry and Wesley for making this such a special day and going to great effort to keep me sane! I love you both very much

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Got a few crazy days coming up, hope all of you have a very Merry Christmas, or whatever you celebrate. I'm celebrating the crazies, haha! One of my mates at work gave me this sticker for Christmas today. Wesley and I left the store and went to another local shop and they had these hats, I had to have it. I wore it all day as we shopped, got a few odd stares, so fun!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Not my new normal

How many of you have been through Rockingham NC and stopped at the Holiday Restaurant? If you are a true southerner and you live anywhere near Rockingham, you might know this place. When I was a little girl, we drove 4 hours from Myrtle Beach to High Point NC at least once if not twice a month on Friday night after daddy got off work. Went to stay with my mom's parents, daddy got his hair cut at Murphy's on Saturday, I spent Saturday night with my cousins Cheryl and Brian, we went to Ennis Street Wesleyan Church Sunday morning, then drove four hours back to the beach. We always stopped for Sunday lunch at the Holiday. My parents were odd about this road trip business. Trust me, we did some crazy ass shit. My dad was working in Tampa Florida once? My mom would take me out of school on Firday, we would drive 12 hours to Tampa to see him and be back in time for me to go to school Monday morning..... Just sayin' that ain't right.....

When Gerry and I went to his aunts funeral over Thanksgiving, we got hungry about the time we pulled into Rockingham. I clicked on my aroundme app to find a place to eat, and what do you know! The Holiday was the first thing that came up! Holy crap! It was pouring rain, we were gloomy about the day, and a nice meal at The Holiday seemed like just the thing. So we stopped. We were skeptical if it would be as good as we remembered. Gerry remembers it because..... Little side story here. My dad was nuts. He had a furniture mfg. business and instead of paying for shipping, he would have me pick up supplies in High Point, where I was living at the time, and meet him and mama at The Holiday to bring him whatever, staples, tack strips, foam rubber, fabric,cardboard, thread, bobbins, zippers. Lord, the stuff I could pile in my little VW Scirrocco. So my parents came up from Myrtle Beach, Gerry and I drove from High Point, we would have dinner together, unload the stuff I brought and go home.....
Anyway, the meal was incredible and just as we remembered. We both got fried Flounder and it was the biggest freshest piece of fish I have had in a long long time. Mashed potatoes, hush puppies, green beans..... Y'all.....

Here was my rnorming, thirty minutes in line at the post office..... Y'all......
What are we doing to ourselves? I had to go to Old Navy the other day, well didn't HAVE to, but still, I was looking  for cute Christmas pajamas, and Old Navy used to have cute ones, uh uh, not anymore. Why in Gods name every manufacturer thinks girls just want to wear pink is beyond me. I don't want pink Christmas pajamas! I want some fun pj's, not happening though. Anyway, I was walking around the store, the one that used to have all registers open with happy employees, and in each bay, another happy employee with their clipboard using it to fold shirts and keeping their spaces orderly. Last week when I was in the store, there were hangers on the rods, but the clothes were all piled on the floor and the tables were piled high with clothes tossed all over them, none folded. Dressing rooms pouring over with clothing people left, I saw three employees working the entire store, one register open. Our store had seven people working the other day and our store is tiny. As I stood in the line that got longer and longer I started chatting with another woman that was my age about the state of the store and how retail used to be. Her answer was, " it's the new normal".  
I did, however, score at JoAnn Fabrics. Christmas was 70% off, thanks to my blogger pal Suzan for suggesting it for these little trees, I've been looking everywhere, wanted more of them for the mantle. 89 cents, love that! No, it's not local art, and yes I have supported the local artists this year. I stood in line behind fifteen people to buy 89 cent trees. After the post office.....I must have a fever.....

Well, back to my new normal. Where I work, the people working in the store are smart and know what they are talking about, they are polite and friendly and helpful and happy to be there. We open the doors for our customers, we help carry things to their cars, we know many of them by name, and we bend over backward to find answers to their questions, if we don't know. We laugh a lot. Our customers smile and thank us. So what is the difference? I'm sure we are probably being paid about the same as other retail stores. Is it because it's a locally owned business? Is it because of what we sell? Why don't people have pride in their work anymore?why has this become the new normal? This chaos in retail?

I have also been thinking about the artists who have mentioned the lack of visitors to their studios this year. I mentioned this to Gerry and one theory is partially the decline of newspapers in our lives. Think about it. We used to sit down every morning and read the paper. First thing my dad did when he got home was read the paper. The arts section was my favorite. When was the last time any of you had a newspaper do a story about you or your area? And did anybody read it? People and Places was the strongest section in the Greensboro News and Record. It's where Gerry got his start, shooting for 
P & P. They were always doing stories on local artists. When the Raleigh newspaper did a story on my studio, people were parked all down the road that day. 

Is our "new normal" retail stores that have no pride in the employees they hire or the appearance of their stores? Towns without a local newspaper to report events and enlighten us? Couples with their heads buried in their phones over dinner at a restaurant, not even talking to each other? Prescription drugs to mask every ailment? Poison in our foods, our water, our air? Cell phone towers in every backyard? More stores? More stuff? Landfills full?

We better wake the fuck up

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Home Delivery

I have been working a lot of hours lately and enjoying the shoppers and their excitement over buying really great gifts for friends and family. Yesterday I helped a dad select house plants for his identical twin daughters. That was on their Christmas list, how cool is that! I have also been trying to visit with friends before the Christmas week family visiting gets here. I feel like I can't catch my breath, time is just squeezed into a surreal short space this time of year and I always feel like I am rushing and tired and frustrated and BROKE! Why do we DO this?! 

I took a little time this morning to make some orange pound cakes for a few friends. I call them tea breads but the recipe says pound cake, whatever. They are soooo good and so easy to make and very Christmasy. I wrapped them in freezer paper, a little raffia, and there ya go, nice gift, made with love!

My Christmas shopping has been mostly at the store where I work this year and a couple of other places, also some giving of things I have made. My soap is selling here at home without me really doing a thing, like this kind of selling very much!

Best of all, my potter friend Barbara came over today, brought a selection of her pottery for me to choose from and also brought some Cold Mt beer. We sat in my sunny living room, drinking beer, catching up and looking at great pottery. Is this not the very best way EVER to shop? Home delivery, I kept everything she brought! 

If you have read my blog for awhile, you know I struggle with this time of year. This holiday. But it's really not fair to those that have to live with me, so I'm trying really hard not to be a grinch. Finding some nice moments that make this holiday season bearable. So far so good....... 
It's all good right now :-)

Friday, December 12, 2014

What to keep, what to throw away......

This little sugar and creamer set is one of my all time favorite Christmas gifts. Gerry's aunt Debbie, the aunt we buried at Thanksgiving, gave it to me years ago. The year she gave it to me, we were all together for Thanksgiving and complaining about the upcoming Christmas shopping we all had to do. Debbie proudly announced that she got all her shopping done back in January at the Walmart clearance sale. Oh my, I thought...... And so Christmas came and we all opened our gifts from Debbie, courtesy of Walmart clearance. This set was in a box with the orange clearance sticker still on it, $3.35. 
At first I was appalled, I had spent quite a bit on their gifts, can't tell you now what we gave them, but I had a job then, and spent without too much concern. I'm sure it was nice, but apparently not very memorable. Not as memorable as this gift. 

I almost gave the set away, it sure didn't go with my Villory and Bach china,  nor my transfer ware, not even my McCoy pottery. But I kept it, because Debbie gave it to me. And she gave it with joy. I unpack this set every year and I smile. It is so quirky that I love it. It gets a prominent display among all the Christmas decorations. I have come to treasure this gift even more this year. I sent this photo to her daughter and told her how I love using the set.

We continue to purge. I have Gerry in on the action now. This box of electronic waste came from the attic. This electronic disposable world has got to find some sort of sanity. This is not the way for our future to survive. There are three broken DVD players in there, remotes that don't work, old car phone chargers, old wires that go with nothing, a broken modem....  I am on a mad dash to get smarter with recycling, refusing to buy and reusing. Watch the film Samsara for an eye opening journey, it's on Netflix, well worth a watch. 

Several boxes of bank statements also came down from the attic. We went and bought a paper shredder. It will take days and days to shred all of this. We are now paperless with our banking. Tiny steps, but it's start. We are trying out the shredded paper in the chicken coop and then we will compost it. I'm not shredding the plastic windows on the envelopes or the slick papers, just paper with soy inks.

Also tryng harder to sort all of the other papers that come into the house, looking for alternate things at the stores that are packaged smarter, but it's a cardboard world out there..... My New Years efforts will be towards getting a handle on the trash we produce in this house.

Today I packed up the remaining bars of soap I have for an order. I was hoping to have an Etsy soap shop this year, but we either used it, gave it as gifts or sold it before I could get a shop set up. I haven't had time to make more, so if you were waiting to order, I'm sorry. Maybe I can get to this in the spring. I used the coffee peppermint soap this morning and it was so great! 

I was going to tell you about my day out shopping but I'll save that for later, gotta get my hair dry and get to work. By the way, look at that sweet angel wing begonia blooming in the background. Talk about recycling. It was headed for the compost pile at work and I brought it home, repotted it, gave it some organic food and it is blooming so beautifully for me now. 
Peace y'all

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

De clutter Christmas

Here comes my least favorite time of year again. I am just not a fan of all the retail Christmas pushers and the demand to buy buy buy during this one month of the year. Why must we be encouraged to buy gifts for people we are supposed to care about just once out of twelve whole months? How about a nice little thing each month, a surprise, a just because...... I don't like being pressured into buying a gift because I am being told to by the mass advertising of the holidays. Bah humbug!

Anyway, I try to make the best of it, it's unavoidable and I don't want to wallow in misery for a month. So I do things that are interesting, visually beautiful, and find some joy in things other than     the mall. 

Yesterday Wesley and I went to Old Salem. She lives just a few blocks from this charming place and 
it has been a place we meet when I visit her at school. It was cold and raining but we had a great day together. The shops are filled with quaint gifts, great books, handmade crafts, wonderful aromas and lovely music. Much better than the overwhelming experience of the mall. Next week we are thinking Seagrove....

This time of year I am normally recovering from the Thanksgiving weekend Designer Craftsmen show and preparing for the December weekends of the Chatham Artists Tour. If I had done the tour this year, there would have been a cold rainy Saturday and a blustery cold Sunday to deal with. Instead, I worked at the Fifth Season Saturday, warm store, great people, sold sooooo much, had a great time, spent no money and will get a pay check. I'm finding it way less stressful to work for someone else right now. And then on Sunday I went shopping with a friend and had lunch together. So much nicer than sitting and waiting for customers to show up, wondering will they come, will they buy, can I meet my show fees, can I afford more clay, do they like my work......  I'm so happy to be reading blogs of other artists that are having successful shows right now, and I did enjoy selling my work for the most part, but my momentum just came to a screeching halt and I can't seem to get it back.

I am also avoiding the dreaded trip to Myrtle Beach for Christmas. There won't be time. We are giving Wesley a trip to San Fransisco for Christmas to visit with Lazarus, so we will just have a few days together and damned if it's going to be spent riding in a car for four hours and arguing at my moms house. I'm sending a gift box. Eliminate stress! My mantra for this time of year.

I continue to purge, to fill my car with items for the thrift stores, don't remember one single thing I have taken there this year. The closets are clearing, rooms are sort of clearing, I still have a lot of stuff, but it's all now stuff I love. I really don't want to bring in new stuff. 

Wes and I were about done with the stuff in stores by the end of the day. We just wanted some hot tea and a quiet place to visit. I think that's the thing I love about where I work. People are buying fermenting kits, cheese making kits, homebrew supplies, garden supplies, DIY for the home. Nesting, making, comfort. Everyone was so joyful about the gifts they were buying on Saturday. No pushing and shoving, no grabbing, no looking for the cheapest price, the latest electronic. These were happy gift giving people, and many were just giving to themselves or buying for each other together. These are my peeps. The de-cluttering continues..... Mentally and physically.