Saturday, April 27, 2013

Three Eyes, Ferrets and Reptiles...

Since the last couple of entries had some heaviness in it that I don't like to do too much to clog my blog, it's time for some funnies. 

But first, housekeeping. 

I just finished two more custom orders for that gem of a customer who lives near Toronto. I won't show the work in their entirety until I've shipped them off.
This one is for a woman. And of course there are my blingy purple toes.

This is for young man about Mikelle's age.

X-Man found a googly eye and brought it to me. We were goofing off and I put it on my tongue trying to say "tongue has eyeball" (  but in the voice it would make when your tongue has an eyeball stuck to it and your tongue is sticking out) and he would laugh.

I laughed and it kind of spit the eye off my tongue and I'm not kidding - it hit him close range and landed right between his eyes! It was funny watching him look for it for a second not knowing where it landed. I had to take a picture. 

As for some of his other skills, at least when he keeps drawing on the walls (that are just cleaned and/or painted over), his scribbles are in a more pre-schematic stage now.

Speaking of the house, it is tough trying to figure out what to do. We need to be in Wickenburg in ONE YEAR. That way, Mikelle can start high school there and Christian can start fifth grade there. We are still upside down in our house and of course to even rent it out (and sell it someday) there is so much to do. I feel like Atlas again with the world on my shoulders.  However, I'm cranky and overwhelmed and I don't have the strength Atlas had. 

But I said this post wasn't going to be heavy (unlike the house stuff).  Therefore, here we go with some of my favorites:

Not funny, but TRUE!

Back to funny....

I really need a life-size Velocaraptor. 

Not cheese, but I have jumped on top of a stack of mattresses at Costco in just the last couple of months...
I don't know why, but this one below just cracks me up. Plus, it reminds me of a LOT of teachers' meetings. I have to admit, when I was pregnant with Alexander and knew I was going on maternity leave soon, it was nice to be able to say whatever I wanted at these meetings because first, I wasn't going to be there soon, and two, who is going to get mad at a big pregnant hormonal woman?
And I probably posted this here before. It's a classic. I just don't feel like going back in blog history to check.  Plus, it's a funny one to end on. 
The song is in your head now too, huh?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Crazy April and Emotional Soapbox (You've Been Warned)

This has been such a crazy week. First, on Monday, was the Boston Marathon bombing (as I write this, the manhunt for the second suspect continues).

Then, on Wednesday (warning - soap box vent coming up), lawmakers failed us by failing to close a loop hole when it comes to background checks with gun sales. 

That alone was frustrating, but of course it doesn't end there. I am tired of the criticism of the President for his speech that day. I felt his human fallibility and passion for those that are heartbroken over the senseless deaths of people when guns are put into the wrong hands (including himself being heartbroken). Yet, he was accused of using them as pawns so he could fulfill his agenda like a robot without emotion.

First, let me preface by saying, I am not anti-gun. I believe in our 2nd Amendment rights. But I believe in carrying out those rights with COMMON SENSE. No matter how you smoke it, guns are meant to kill (whether it be a person, beer can or animal). Because that is their objective, we need to be smart about it. However, we're humans and common sense and logic is often down with the sewer. 

Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords with Astronaut Husband Mark Kelly
Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly are two of my heroes when it comes to gun philosophy. They're gun owners and they also favor stricter common sense laws. Oh, and Gabby was shot in the face by a deranged gunman back in January 2011 (Alexander was only 2 weeks old). She knows the issue more than many of us can ever understand. She also favors her Second Amendment gun rights and she has the right to stand by the President on this. Yet, she was accused of being a pawn of the President. Completely untrue. She was passionate about an issue and wanted to fight alongside him!

Would this new law completely solve the problem? No. The coward that killed those little children in Newtown last December would have still been able to get the firearms, as they belonged to his mother (whom he also killed that morning). But any little measure helps and brings more common sense to the table. 

I look at it like closing our doors and locking our homes. Do we just leave them wide open and say, "Doesn't matter...if someone really wants to break in, they'll find a way....why should I bother closing and locking my door?" 

No. We still take those extra measures. Do break-ins still occur? Yes. But we're usually smart about taking security measures and closing our garages and locking our homes. Doing so does prevent many break-ins. 

And someone breaking in and taking our property isn't nearly as dangerous and tragic as someone losing their lives to gun violence! Yet, that same common sense with protective measures certainly doesn't exist when it comes to gun laws. 

As a side-note, I brought up this comparison a few months ago and I got a response like, "I use my gun to protect my home." That's all well and good, but if no one is home and someone breaks in, how can your Glock help you? It can't. Hence, we take these extra measures by closing our doors, locking them, closing our garages and many even have an alarm system (and I highly doubt this person only uses his gun to protect his home. I'm pretty sure he locks his doors when they're not home). Let's do the same common sense measures with our firearms.

I'm tired of the conspiracy theorists that are convinced by the paranoia that their guns will be taken away. I'm tired of the people that are so wrapped up in politics that they are so easily influenced and manipulated - whether it be e-mails with misinformation or the opinions of talking heads that equate this administration to the end of days and our President as the antichrist. 
I added this for the art and pretty colors. Yeah, that's it. ;-)
I'm tired of the disrespect of our elected leaders. Am I angry at the senators that voted against this measure to close loop holes with gun sales? Sure. On a political level, I am very dissapointed and I hope future elections send the message that they're not doing the job they were elected to do. 

Did I have a problem with Bush? Sure. But I respect him as an elected official. He would be a riot to have as a neighbor and I would look up to him in the capacity as a former leader. Politically, he was not my favorite person. But the attitude and disrespect I'm seeing for our President is just wrong. You don't have to agree with him, but he is our President.  I've even seen the viewpoint (it isn't new, but more and more maddening) that President Obama is not really bothered by the deaths of innocent children and that it doesn't register on that level with him. He only comprehends it on a political level. It would be one thing if that viewpoint was held by just a few with seriously skewed mindsets of the world, but sadly it's not. 

I was teaching Primary a few weeks ago. I was explaining to the kids the definition of the word "elect" because we were discussing Emma Hale and how she was selected to compose hymns. "Elect" has a few different definitions, but you can see how it comes down to the same principle of being "selected".

1. To select by vote for an office or for membership.
2. To pick out; select: elect an art course.
3. To decide, especially by preference: elected to take the summer off.
4. To select by divine will for salvation. Used of God. 
We were discussing Emma Hale being an "Elect Lady" as per the lesson manual. Since "elect" means chosen or selected, the kids were also familiar with it in terms of a voting election. One of the kids said, "President Obama was elected." I just nodded and said, 'That's right. He was selected by the votes." (I don't throw any of my politics in my lessons as no one should). 

Just as I said that with the intention of moving to what "elect" meant in terms of Emma Hale, and the lesson, another one of the kids said, "President Obama...." and he did a thumbs down with a fart noise. 

I said to him, "Really? That's how we show respect to our elected leaders?" 
He said he was sorry and we moved on.  (And yes, if Bush was still the president and a kid did the same thing, I would have said the same thing.)

It's heartbreaking that just because his parents do not like our President, they have to send the message that disrespecting our leaders is okay as well. Disagreeing and disrespecting are two different things. Sadly, people's emotions are so high, that it is forgotten and it's passed onto our children.  
I've received politically slanted e-mails from family or friends or those I even go to church with (or have gone to church with in that past) that contain so many lies and exaggerated information. 9 times out of 10 the information is usually debunked by the actual facts and

Yet, people still believe them and forward them on. And many of these same people truly believe that the only people that are having a rational discussion about what to do are the ones who want to arm teachers and the staff at schools. I am saddened by this as well. I am angry by this. 

Anti-Nephi-Lehies burying their weapons
I look to the lessons of the Book of Mormon for comfort. Slaughter for slaughter only led to extinction - not just with the Nephites and Lamanites, but the Jaredites as well.

I love how the Anti-Lehi-Nephis dealt with the issue of violence. They buried their weapons and vowed not the use them again. Did it mean the violence ended? No. Those that made no such vow and those that were still determined to use the weapons to commit acts of violence still did so.  I admire the tenacity and integrity of the Anti-Lehi-Nephis for their vow to bury their weapons. Their vow was not in vain.

Anyway, that's it with my soapbox for now. If I had any blog readers at all, I probably chased off half of them (so I might have 2 left) due to my views that do not burn our President in effigy. 

I'll also add President Uchdorf's (Dieter F. Uchdorf is the Second Counselor in the LDS First Presidency) words because well, they're fitting here. And also, because it's
President Uchdorf saying them:
"As you accept the responsibility to seek after truth with an open mind and a humble heart, you will become more tolerant of others, more open to listen, more prepared to understand, more inclined to build up instead of tearing down and you will be more willing to go where God wants you to go"- President Utchdorf
My own emotions are still running high because if the Boston bombing and gun law disappointment wasn't bad enough, there was a huge explosion at a plant in Texas Wednesday evening that has killed at least 12 people (the numbers are still rising) and injured dozens more.  The explosion occurred near Waco, where 20 years ago today was that fire inside the Branch Davidian compound that killed more than 80 people inside.

However, tragedy and disaster is no stranger to April. April does not usually mean happy turn of events. I started seeing this pattern in the 1990s after the Waco, Texas Branch Davidian fire, Oklahoma City bombing and the LA Riots. My birthday is in April, so that's probably why I noticed the pattern early on and thought, "What is the deal with April?"

Being a history nerd, the April findings were staggering. And if the Columbine massacre in 1999 and now the events of this week are any indication, the "April Affect" still continues:

April 4, 1968 - Civil Rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was shot and killed by a sniper in Memphis, Tennessee. 

April 6, 1994 - The beginning of genocide in Rwanda as a  plane carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi was shot down.  

April 11, 1970 - Apollo 13 was launched from Cape Kennedy at 2:13 p.m. Fifty-six hours into the flight an oxygen tank exploded in the service module. A few days later is a happy ending, however, dubbing the mission a "successful failure" in that no one had lost their life.  Yes, Apollo 13 is one of my favorite movies of all time.

April 12, 1945 - President Franklin D Roosevelt died suddenly at Warm Springs, Georgia, after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage.

April 14, 1865 - President Lincoln was shot (and died the next day) while watching a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater in Washington.
April 15, 1912 - The Titanic tragedy. 

April 17, 1961 - Bay of Pigs fiasco. 

April 18, 1906 - The San Francisco Earthquake 

April 19, 1993 - At Waco, Texas, the compound of the Branch Davidian religious cult burned to the ground with 82 persons inside.

April 19, 1995 - At 9:02 a.m., a massive car-bomb explosion destroyed the entire side of a nine story federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 persons.

April 20, 1999 - The devestating school shooting in Littleton, Colorado, as two students armed with guns and explosives stormed into Columbine High School. 

Note: Sadly, Newtown Connecticut's school shooting last December was even worse (as far as lives lost) than this one, which was previously the most deadliest.

April 20, 1889 - Hitler was born in Austria. It is no coincidence that Hitler's birthday and the Columbine massacre occurr on the same date. Did the shooters at Columbine also want to make a big deal in that it was also 110th anniversary of Hitler's birth?

April 26, 1986 - The nuclear accident and disaster at the Chernobyl power plant in the Ukraine.

April 29, 1992 - LA Riots erupted in Los Angeles

Note: That was my 17th birthday.

April 29, 1945 - While in hiding in Berlin, Hitler and Ava Braun were married. 

April 29 and 30, 1975 -  The evacuation by helicopter of American civilians and some 600 Vietnamese from Saigon, South Vietnam in the mission titled Operation Frequent Wind. This was officially the last days of the Vietnam War. I was born during this (not there, obviously). Why my parents didn't keep a newspaper or mention this significance boggles my mind.

April 30, 1945- Hitler and his new bride committed suicide as Berlin's defeat was imminent. 

No, I'm not hiding until May. Are you kidding? We're running out of the kind of weather that means we can go outside! 

Until next time, and happier entries.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Artistic Side Effects

So...funny story. Remember the piano bench project I mentioned just a few entries ago? Well, I finally finished it. Turns out, the bench is too big for the piano! (too tall) I never thought of the size being an issue. HAHA! Oh well. 

The new piano bench is so nice, and it does technically still fit in the piano. There is just no room for anyone's legs when they're sitting on it.

Despite the size issue, I do like the way it turned out. However, I'm still seeing spots on there that needed more of the blue stain. I don't know if it'll ever be "done" in my book. I think of the I Love Lucy Christmas Tree episode. 

Lucy had Fred and Ricky trim one side of the tree. Then  she didn't like how the other side looked, so they trimmed that. It was a huge stick with no branches by the time it was done! 

If I keep "touching up" this bench, it'll never leave the garage. Life has to go on.

See how it just "fits" so nicely? lol

Christian: Mom, it doesn't match. 
Me: I know. If it did, it would be boring.
Friend Theresa: I agree with your Mom. 

Then again, Theresa is inflicted with the same thing as me:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

April Snippets

Guess what arrived in the mail yesterday? Yeah, baby! Now I have two reasons to count down to October. Not just being able to get through another summer, but also...?

Like my Leopard Jammy pants? Another Shout Out to Target...
Also yesterday:

Mikelle had purple bunny peeps.
Me: Can I have a peep?
Mikelle: (being stingy....held them away)
Me: Do you know what an episiotomy is?

Chris immediately interjected: OMG! Mikelle, please give your mom a peep. You don't want to hear this!

Moving on....

I think I'm going to write a Children's Book but also geared to adults called "All Mom Wants to Do Is Pee"  


I have some ideas on how to pursue it. We'll see what pans out. Stay tuned. 

On Friday, Chris e-mailed this cartoon from work along with this message: "I was freezing all night long. When I got up the Thermostat was at 71.  Are you guys trying to kill me?"

 And it's only April. 

I am little worried about what a Taun Taun is supposed to be in the bathroom scenario. 

And I apologize in advance for moving onto something more serious after taun taun bathroom euphemisms, inappropriate Mom guilt in an effort to obtain sugary treats and the art of simply being in the bathroom without the house blowing up, but about a week ago I was reminded of something  that is very important to make mention. 

I am grateful for some insight Dick Cavett gave in the past, along with a little help from ABBA. (ABBA, Jill? Really? Yes, really.)

I've never met Dick Cavett in my life, but I feel a connection to him in his words and emotion recalling what he experienced with severe depression. His words from this article and interviews he's done have resonated with me so much. The only thing that comes close to Cavett's words in finally not feeling alone in such a gritty horrible crevice that severe depression is, are the lyrics to "Abba's Cbiquitita" 

During my most horrific episode of severe depression (that made the others look like simple bad moods), this was on in the radio in one of the classrooms - I was in my last semester of college and in my 2nd and 3rd trimester of Christian's pregnancy (late 2003 early 2004). The lyrics stood out to me. I went home and looked them up and found so much comfort  (added below).

And these words of Dick Cavett didn't just help me. It went much more than that! They hit home with so he said in this snippet:  

"Apparently one thing I said on “Larry King” back then hit home hard. It was that when you’re downed by this affliction, if there were a curative magic wand on the table eight feet away, it would be too much trouble to go over and pick it up.

There’s also the conviction that it may have worked for others but it wouldn’t work for you. Your brain is busted and nothing’s going to help. ""

To read the whole article, click here

I know I'm putting myself out there, but once you're in a horrible dark gritty place and then free of it, you don't want to be there again. Therefore, between the comfort I found - of all things an "Abba" song - and a public figure I never met who visited that same disgusting place and how to describe it, I felt compelled to share.  

(Dick, if you ever read this and you're in the Phoenix area, let's have lunch!)

 Chiquitita, tell me what's wrong
You're enchained by your own sorrow
In your eyes there is no hope for tomorrow
How I hate to see you like this
There is no way you can deny it

I can see that you're oh so sad, so quiet

Chiquitita, tell me the truth
I'm a shoulder you can cry on
Your best friend, I'm the one you must rely on
You were always sure of yourself
Now I see you've broken a feather
I hope we can patch it up together

Chiquitita, you and I know
How the heartaches come and they go and the scars they're leaving
You'll be dancing once again and the pain will end
You will have no time for grieving
Chiquitita, you and I cry
But the sun is still in the sky and shining above you
Let me hear you sing once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita
Try once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita

So the walls came tumbling down
And your love's a blown out candle
All is gone and it seems too hard to handle
Chiquitita, tell me the truth
There is no way you can deny it
I see that you're oh so sad, so quiet

Chiquitita, you and I know
How the heartaches come and they go and the scars they're leaving
You'll be dancing once again and the pain will end
You will have no time for grieving
Chiquitita, you and I cry
But the sun is still in the sky and shining above you
Let me hear you sing once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita
Try once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita
Try once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita

To hear Chiquitita, go here. It's a video, but I linked it for the audio. 

Until next time! 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Geekery Part II, Show re-cap, and an Artist's' Grievances...

"Chompie" is the special class mascot for Christian's class. Every student receives the opportunity to take Chompie home over a weekend. The requirement is to take care of Chompie and keep him away from toddlers, dogs (and in our case, birds). Students are to take pictures of the activities with Chompie and add any mementos or souvenirs. 

Therefore, being that Chris was to go across town (Litchefield Park area...ack...!) and help judge a Science fair at Millennium High School, he took Christian and Chompie with him. (Hence, the science fair pictures in the previous post.  Christian also included Science fair info and copies of some things in the notes and pictures he brought back to school with Chompie)

And while Chompie would have normally come with us to church the following day, it was General Conference weekend. Therefore, that's why there are doughnut pictures (bi-annual tradition...Bosa Donuts! Holy Cow...) and a picture of Chompie watching one of his favorite speakers from Conference. 

Chompie also got to shots with the artwork too. Chris also made sure Zoey didn't hurt Chompie. Christian was nervous, but all was well. All is well...

Botton left is a painting I did of Christian from right before he turned 5...Th painting of Mikelle from when she was 5 (just a coincidence that they were close to the same age in both paintings) is hanging in the hall. It's been posted here before.

And during conference, I caught evidence that Mikelle and Christian love each other. Of course the second picture is what happened when they caught me taking the first picture.

Sugar Does Phoenix and an Artist's Grievances 

Sugar Show: March 29, 2013


This show was a disappointment as far as sales for me. I had high hopes for it. It was
The Venue - The Duce in Downtown Phoenix
more edgy and young. The venue was awesome. It was so retro and vintage. "The Duce" wasn't just a facility trying to look vintage. It actually HAD the vintage items there. I should have taken more pictures around that place. 

I don't think I'm going to do anymore shows for the time being. I'm not writing them off all together, but I'm not going to seek any out and plan any. The time investment and preparation was challenging enough. People like to look at my stuff, but no one buys anything (with very small exceptions). 

I even prepared little mini canvases of my prints and some blocks so there was affordable fun stuff (in addition to the more higher end art) and decor stuff like the blocks. However, it was like the noise Wylie E. Coyote makes as he's falling off a cliff.  Well, it certainly didn't help having a live band in front of my booth 3 different times, so it blocked accesibility, but I digress...

3x3 MIni Canvases - only $3 Each for the Show
4x4 Mini Canvases - Only $5 each for the show!
I know I seem dramatic, but aside from the financial aspect, it's the time away from my kids that concerns me. It was Good Friday, so they were off from school. And Alexander was a little tired of me not being very 'engaged' with his toddler needs for a few days (the days leading up were pretty crazy in preparation). 

It would have been one thing to stress out over all the preparation, money and time if all that hard work yielded some positive exposure (there were some magazines coming around with contests to do spreads and highlights on artists) and breaking even or making a small profit, but none was the case.  So yes, I'm still a little cranky about it and feel guilty as a Mom. 

I'm not blaming anyone or anything per se. Sometimes things click and all the planets align, and other times, they don't and there's no rhyme or reason. 

I will say this though. Phoenix doesn't have much of a market or many art patrons out to discover art and think "outside the box" as opposed to other areas, unless you include the trendy places like Scottsdale and Sedona. However, those areas have more an appeal to those who are from other parts of the country and they're into the the whole cowboy and southwest art (NOT my cup of tea. I throw in some local flair to my art, because this is where I'm unfortunately sentenced, but I don't get into the whole genre).

 I look at my Etsy site and my sales have mostly came from elsewhere (especially that awesome customer near Toronto!): California, Mississippi, Colorado, Vermont, Virginia, New Mexico and other states.  

This doesn't really have anything to do with the Sugar Show, but on a local level, I would have thought my temple art would resonate with people (or in the Idaho-Utah-Arizona LDS core areas).  However, not many are interested in displaying the House of the Lord in a more unique manner.  But they are okay going to Deseret Book and just buying "some run of the mill" temple picture.  And some of Deseret Book's temple art is beautiful, but if you want jacked up prices, check out those!

There are exceptions, of course. My local friends Billie, Theresa, Missy and Jen (just to name a few!) have taste with their temple art. (haha...I know, I'm being a brat right now. But this is my blog and while I try to keep it even keel for the most part, sometimes you have to vent....) And I do have some other loyal local followers that I appreciate immensely.

Custom Mesa, Temple Motif to a local Etsy Customer! I hope the couple loved it!
Salt Lake Temple
My favorite Temple Motif so far...San Diego Temple

Others don't want to pay the price (no matter what Custom originals I do, LDS specific or not). 

What they don't realize is the time invested into it, and I make sure they get much more than they pay for.  I am not over-charging, and I'll give a discount most of the time if asked (or I'll even offer it up front) because I am more loyal to their willingness to hire me than I am to make a lot of money. Building a rapport, reputation and following is more important to me than making a fast buck on each customer. 

In fact, I've been told by many that I under-charge. I understand if they can't afford it. That's another issue all together. But it's something else if they want something, but then not want to pay what it takes to get it. If you want your house painted or carpets cleaned, you have to pay for the time and work involved, right? It's the same thing with any customized work.  

I think of the guy locally a few days ago that had an angry beehive that he knew was dangerous to himself and neighbors. He called out a service and got a quote but didn't like the price. He attempted to remove it himself.  Well, when he tried to remove it himself, they swarmed and three children (two young teens and an 18 month old baby!) and a family dog ended up getting stung multiple times. Paramedics were involved, and yes, everyone is going to be okay. The point I'm making is certain services cost money! Sometimes the price isn't pleasant, but good people will make sure you're satisfied and the result will be a positive one (no one getting stung). I would like to think I'm one of those people. 

However, while I showed an example of one of customized work at the Sugar Show, the majority of my inventory were prints (and as a sidenote, I didn't have any temple prints at the show. The show was for a much different demographic. There  may have been some in my basket of prints people can look through, but I didn't have any on display...)

 In fact, the only items that were "high end" were the ones hanging above, because all three of them are large originals with the frames included.

Pictures from the Sugar Show, in no particular order:

My large pieces hung above my booth.

Smaller items displayed around my booth. The Owl Collage DID Sell...!

Beautiful paintings from other artists on display. Love these colors!

Jessica Melrose, Tucson Artist

My Sign

Collages and a small Original of a Black and White Motif Design

"You're Never Too Tall for Heels"
I seriously don't get why my "You're Never Too Tall for Heels" didn't sell  (I had the original available for 25% less than I would normally sell it for). It was an Art AND Fashion show, for crying out loud! 

But moving along...
The booth "next door" Her stuff is phenomenal!

A few booths down. She livesi n Tucson. Love the relection on the cat painting!

Another one of the booth next door.

Yes, more of the booth next door.

The Original of my Great Wave Tribute, a Print of the "Day of the Dead", A print of my Owl Motif, and another B&W Motif Original

My dream blocks. I'm shocked they didn't sell as well. But I love having them displayed on the piano here at home.

My favorite from the booth next door. I would love to get a bunch of her stuff and throw a huge Halloween party every year with this stuff all over the place!

Very large painting above the bleachers. Chris loved this one.

My $1.50 Affordable Postcards and another Owl Print

"Sugar Guys" setting up!

Sugar Table

Sugar Dude

My "Question of Time" Original hanging above with my favorite color bulb lights (Target, baby!)

Fun Art on Display...This would be great in a home with high cielings!

Love this one...Text as the Rain. Loved the Colors!

A Fun Collage from Another Artist Great message in it!

My Wish Blocks (with affordable min-prints hanging up behind on display)

Yes, it's an abrupt ending again, but life duties call. 

Until next time...