30 September 2006

I'm Back...Sort Of

It's been a long time since I blogged. So long, in fact, that I actually had to look up my user name and password. (I sometimes wish I would just use the same name and password for all my accounts across the web, but that's not safe so I'm left with a list of combinations.)

For the last couple of weeks, my husband and his d-o-g have been home. Not for a vacation, really, but because his truck (big, 18-wheeler) needed to be repaired. It all started with having the clutch replaced, because it was failing. Simple job -- drop the transmission and replace it. While doing that, the mechanic found that the transmission oil cooler was leaking coolant into the oil. Not good. So to get it replaced, I had to drive to Fontana, CA (90 miles away) to get a new one, but -- and here's the cute part -- the dealer said he had the right part but it turned out to be the wrong one. Well, when the mechanic called around to other shops and dealers, the only one he could find was in Atlanta, GA. So, sending it by overnight freight (for $160), I got to do a return trip into Fontana. (The new part came into another dealer, but I still could return the wrong part to the other dealer and get our money back.) Then when the mechanic test-drove the truck, he noticed a fuel leak out of the fuel pump and an oil leak from the front of the transmission. The fuel leak ended up being just a few loose bolts and the oil leak didn't seem bad. So, on Friday, we paid the bill and brought the truck home.

Over the weekend, we drove it down to Palm Springs to pick up some lights for the truck and to figure out how much oil it was using. We found out about a pint of oil in 70 miles. Since hubby will drive 500-600 miles a day, that's nearly 2 galleons of oil per day. At $12/gal, this gets expensive fast. So Monday it went back to the shop. The cause was some dumb gasket, which was available in Chicago. After another bill, hubby finally got a working truck and left on Friday.

The total cost was about $5000.

This is why I about killed myself getting some Xmas cards done this week. As I mentioned, the alpaca farm wanted another alpaca piece by last weekend, to take to a show. She had also told me that she wanted a set of 3 Xmas cards by early November. Well, a week ago Friday, she calls and says they took out a half-page ad in an alpaca magazine, so she needed the cards by Thursday. With all the stuff going on with hubby's truck -- namely the trips to Fontana -- I didn't get started on them until Saturday afternoon. I figured one a day for 3 days and then another day to make corrections. No problem to get them done. So on Monday, I get this call and she says the deadline is really Thursday morning for the ad layout, so she would need the cards by Tuesday afternoon. So much for my timeline! I ended up working most of Sunday and Monday on them -- even made hubby make my lunches so I could work on the cards. But I got them done.

And in the middle of all this, I've been trying to run some auctions, update my website, and finish of some portrait commissions. All with husband and d-o-g in tow. (Sorry to say this, but dogs are a real nuisance, what with their trips outside. With cats, just give them a litter box and they are set for the entire day!)

And to complete my annoyance theme, today my website seems to be down. No wonder I'm not getting any views on my auctions -- the pictures are gone!

So, here are photos of what I'm selling on eBay right now:

Trout Lily Art Card

Wild Roses Print

Anemones in Crock

Anyway, I'm now trying to get my life back into some order and get back to work. I've sorted out what I want to do and how I'm going to try doing it. I still haven't exactly figured out how to get it all done, especially when I have these interruptions such as hubby's truck and the website problem to deal with!

10 September 2006

Getting Back to Work

Gees, I know I haven't written much lately, but I didn't realize it was 9 days ago.

Well, I wish I could say I had a good break from things, but I can't. I've been feeling blah lately. I'm fighting against myself when it comes to doing an oil portrait. The IRS and my former auto insurance company are creating problems. I've spend days tracking down a few parts for hubby's truck. It's been hot and humid here..... On and on my list of whiny complaints.

Yes, I know I'm whining. And yes, I hate whiners. So I'm not happy with myself.

The basic problem is that all these little "problems" nibble away at my energy. Enough little bites, and then I feel sapped. So, like the terribly mature person I am (irony here), I just shut down. So, while I finished a couple of small paintings this week, none of then where on my list of commissions to do.

But now I had better get my act together fast!

Next weekend (16 Sept), I have a one day show to do in Montrose, CA. This wouldn't be a big thing, except I sold a number of my unframed botanicals during my "Best Offer" sale, I haven't done any extra florals/botanicals, and now my husband wants me to take my sculpture to the show. (He thinks sculpture would look good with the botanicals.) I also need to come up with something to take to "demo".

Then the following weekend (22 Sept), the alpaca farmer who used to handle my alpaca artwork will be doing a show in Monterey, CA and they want a couple of pieces. Well, they actually only want one pastel, but I would also like to do a small sculpture. They also want a set of Christmas cards, but not by the show. Again, this wouldn't be a big deal, but I'd like a bit more than a 10 day notice. (10 days because they need to take it to a framer.)

And then the eBay season is coming up. I had planned to start listing on the 15th or 17th actually (after the show). I have a few new things to list. But then there's the problem of letting the new oils dry long enough to be able to varnish them before I sell them.

So, in some ways, things are going pretty well for selling art. I just need to get busy and get back to producing a lot of art and soon!

01 September 2006

Off the Bookshelf

With having my husband home for a week, I really haven't read a whole lot. I would like to read about a book a week, because I have a lot of books on my to-read list. And like any bibliophile, I keep adding more.

One thing I'm going to try for September is to really limit my television time to about 1 hour a day. The only exceptions will be when PBS has 2 hour shows or a good movie on the weekend. (Hey, I deserve a break once in a while.) Actually, I haven't been watching too much more than an hour per day as it is. I don't like most reality shows. I don't watch most sports, with college basketball tournement being an exception. And I don't have cable/satellite tv so I'm limited to 5 snowy channels. I'm actually threatening not to get a digital converter if and when the US does go 100% digital tv.

Anyway, with only 1 hour of tv, that should give me 1-2 hours a night to read. So, I may get my pile of books down to only a dozen or so!

Here's what I've finished lately:

  • The Hours, by Michael Cunningham -- I'm not sure what I think of this novel. The basic outline is there are 3 women, Virginia Wolf, a 1950s housewife, and a contemporary lesbian. The book follows each woman in alternating chapters and then ties all three women together in the final chapter. While the characters were well-rounded, the plot rather surprising at times, and the writing clear and often poetic, the book left me feeling less than pleased that I had read it. (I have a lot of interesting books to read, so I don't want to waste my time on less than oustanding books.) Why it won a Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award I don't know. I don't think my less-than-positive reaction to the book had to do with the depression/suicide theme which runs thru the book -- it was more that the book was too contrived. Linking the three women together was a stretch. I probably won't ever reread this book and I definitely won't see the movie based on this book.
  • Boomer, by Charles Taylor -- One blurb on the cover said something about better than Tom Clancy. And I have to agree, especially when compared to Clancy's Op-Center and Net Force novels. The basic story is a rogue submarine captain seizes a nuclear submarine with the intention of destroying U.S. subs and how the U.S. Navy tries to stop him. The writing was clear with enough detail to make it authentic, but not too much to become boring. The characters were interesting and multidimensional. And the plot had some extremely interesting twists and turns. While not a "great" novel, it was entertaining and very much worth my time to read.
  • Regarding the Pain of Others, by Susan Sontag -- This collection of essays was outstanding. Basically, Sontag discusses how television and photography have influenced how we view the inhumanities of war. The chapters were short and basically independent of each other, which was good -- this is not a book which one reads in one sitting. My favorite part of this book is that she made me think about a lot of things related to the media and the U.S.'s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (And time an author can make me think, I love it!) On the down-side, her writing can be fairly complex in terms of syntax and rheotic. For example, she will hang a number of dependent clauses on one sentence, and then make reference to something she said three pages earlier. The writing is clear if one takes the time to read carefully, but as I was reading this while reading the above easy-to-read novels and in 'speed reading' mode, Sontag's writing occasionally confused me. I definitely will reread this book again as I think I can get more out of it each time I read it.

Presently, I'm reading these two books:

  • Snow, by Orhan Pamuk-- Yet another novel I found at the library book sale. (Hey, I can get a lot of books in a bag on their "Buck-A-Bag" sale!) This was a New York Times Best Book of the Year and a novel based in and from Turkey, an area that I wouldn't mind learning more about.
  • The Voyage of H.M.S Beagle: The Journal of Charles Darwin, by Charles Darwin -- Yep, another library find! Some years ago, I read Darwin's Origin of Species, and was left wondering what he saw on the voyage. So, when I saw this for sale (I didn't even know it was ever published), I knew I had to read it.

Both of these books are very interesting, at least as far as I am right now. Unfortunately, both are rather long, so it'll be a while before I get done with either. And in the meantime, I really need to get those bookshelves built so I can buy a number of books on my wish list!