Monday, April 6, 2015

Craft Fair Conundrum




Most people don't sign up to be vendors at craft fairs to make money. At least, that's what I'm learning. I was one many moons ago when I honestly didn't care about making a profit. I only did a few a year specifically to clear out all the crap I had made with beads.

I went through a phase where I was obsessed with beads, glorious beads!! I could spend a happy evening merely sorting their various shapes and colors. But to make something beautiful out of them, ah, that was the dream. I made jewelry (natch), but I also made sparkling Christmas ornaments and twinkling sun-catchers. I didn't have a clue how much it cost me to make each item but my husband and I agreed it had to be less expensive than therapy. Beading made me happy.

Now that I'm older and not any dumber, I decided I really, really want to make money off my crafts. You know that feeling you get when you create something wonderful? I assume even right-brain people feel it, when they've done an excellent job on their spreadsheet (or whatever the heck it is that they do). It's a rush of satisfaction deep inside, like finally hitting that high note or smacking a baseball over the fence. Yeah. What a high. Well, I'd like to turn that feeling into cash.

Focusing on my photos seems to make sense since I have a bursting collection of beautiful images on my computer. It ain't my camera skills that created them- it's the beautiful surroundings that seemed to simply appear in front of me while we were in Canada and in the Hill Country of Texas.

Knowing that bluebonnet season is a big deal here in The Lone Star State, I made greeting cards, coasters and pillows using some kick-ass photos of bluebonnets I took last year. That's right. Coasters and pillows! No lie.

The photo below is not of some oddly upholstered arm chair. These are all the squares of fabric I ran through my printer before sewing each one into an 8x8 inch pillow.


The finished product is small, but I think they're adorable.
       

































Coasters:













Greeting cards:


I also put together a batch of  plants in little clay pots. The plants are artificial from Michaels and the clay pots are....wait for it...recycled Keurig cups! Did your head just explode? No? Then I need to work on my writing skills. But enough about things that will never happen, look at them!

Fake plants in fake pots = FUN.




Once I felt I had enough adorable things to sell, I signed up for a local craft fair. Woo-hoo!

The morning of the fair, I dragged myself out of bed and felt like sobbing. What the heck had I done? How could I sign up for an event where random strangers were going to walk by, judging my work, judging ME? Not to mention the vendors on either side of me, who would look at my wares and be all, you know, judgy. Girl, this was judgement DAY. And let's not forget that I have social anxiety. I can't speak to people I don't know. Waahh!!

But, by golly, I dug down deep, gave myself a pep talk, squared my shoulders, took a deep breath and, um...let go and let God? OK, I'll be honest. I did none of that. Instead I performed a little play in my head about a wife (played by me) telling her husband (played by mine) that she had given actual money to rent space at a fair but didn't feel like going. And off I went.

Here are my sad little tables:

















I like my stuff, I just wish I had had MORE. The other vendors were seasoned pros. They knew what they were doing and practically danced a ballet while setting up their extensive inventory. They also knew how to schmooze the unsuspecting shoppers. "Hey! How you doing? How's your day going?" Before these people knew what was happening, they were forking over money for a quilted toaster cover.

"Have a great day!" my competitors called as these happy people moved on to my table. As my customers looked over my stuff and then at me, a puzzled look would creep over their faces. I attempted to put them at ease by diving under my table, pretending I dropped something.

Every single person was amused by my fake potted plants. "Oh my God, look! Those are Keurig cups!" they'd say, prompting me to peek out from under my tablecloth. "You are VERY clever!" They'd look my clever creations over, show them to friends and carefully put them back. "Look! Quilted tea cozies!" And they were gone.

The other vendors were incredibly nice. In fact, the day turned into more of a chat-fest and less of a fair, since we had nobody to sell our stuff to. To say we had a poor turn out would be like saying Kim Kardashian's butt is a tad large.

The woman next to me remarked that the day she starts doing fairs for the money is the day she'll quit. Nods all around. "Well, that sucks," I thought, since I'm in it for the lettuce, the do-re-mi, the chedda, yo. Hmm...now that I'm thinking about it, I may have said that last part out loud because the group suddenly scattered, looking scared.

So there's the conundrum.  I love to make things. I dare say, I NEED to make things. But I don't have enough window sills for all of my artificial succulents, or enough cups to justify all of the coasters I made. Pillows? Well, a girl can't have enough pillows. Right, guys?

The money I made covered the cost to rent the space, but that's not exactly what I was going for. There has to be a better way. I'm aware of Etsy and other sites like it. That may be the way to go for a socially awkward creative person. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Leaf Peeping With My Peeps

My son, daughter-in-law and grandson live in the city and even though they love it, every now and then they need a getaway to the country. During my visit this month, we planned a trip up to see my sister and brother-in-law in the tiny town they live in in Massachusetts.

Little Luke tested out his new(ish) walking skills in all those open spaces and checked out the pretty leaves he found on the ground.



I got to enjoy some autumn color.





 
 
We took little Lukey apple picking for the first time. We found a low-hanging beauty, pointed him towards it and then we all jumped back to take pictures. Photographing a one-year-old is a lot like photographing wildlife. You have to just snap away and hope you get a decent shot.

 
Once Luke got his apple off the tree, there was no getting it away from him. He carried that same apple around for the rest of the day.



















 


















A pretty yellow apple couldn't even get him to drop that red apple.
   













And yes, you can drive a tractor clutching an apple.





Mommy can have a bite, but that's it!!.










Since he wasn't sharing, great-grandma searched for her very own special apple.







Enjoying the fruit of his labor.










Safe to say, the city-folks had fun in the orchard.


Those low, red bushes at the orchard are blueberries!  Not in season right now, but aren't they pretty?

Luke was a good little guy all weekend at his great-aunt's house but we did have to keep a keen eye on him. He was fascinated by the stairs and we had to run interference if he toddled near the wood burning stove.

Though they were very welcoming, I'm sure my sister, her husband, the dog and all the cats were relieved to see us strap that tiny bundle of energy into his car seat and drive off into the sunset.


 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Getting Wild in Canada

One of my favorite things to do in the Canadian Rockies is to hunt for wildlife to shoot. With my camera, yo. (Good one, me) So when we drove back to Calgary this summer, we scheduled a few extra days for a visit to Jasper National Park. Jasper is about three hours past Banff National Park and is a bit more wild and less touristy. You never know what you might see.

The best way to spot animals during your drive is to constantly scan the trees for movement. But since that just makes me carsick, I prefer the second best method: watching for other cars pulled over on the side of the road. But here's a caveat: one stopped car almost always means the driver is looking at a map. More than one? Hot dog! Get your camera ready.

Wildlife usually moves fast, so I always set my camera for an action shot, pump up the zoom and prepare to capture whatever part of the animal is visible in the branches. We look at the people first (this is not a joke! repeat, this is not a joke!) to see where they're looking and then I click, click, click in that direction, producing fabulously sharp images of the sky, the road, the backs of people's heads and- God willing- fleeing wildlife.

Our first sighting this summer was a friggin' black wolf. Boom! Cars were pulled over and excited tourists were running along the shoulder of the road, looking up into the trees. I usually stay in my car, preferring not to be mauled (by the animal, I mean. The tourists can have at me!), but I got out and asked someone if it was a bear. "A black wolf!" he replied, with an English accent. "Very rare." We were all staring at a break in the trees, because someone saw it headed that way. And while that poor Englishman turned around to answer someone else's question, the wolf darted by.
















He missed the shot but I got him! We all watched the woods a bit longer, standing in excited silence. I found myself worrying that the wolf might suddenly fly out of the trees, landing on one of us. It was foolish to be out there. As I made my way back to the car, I passed a man climbing down from the top of his RV. "Is the wolf gone?" I asked. He answered in German, gesturing further up the hill. We decided to move on.

The rest of the drive was uneventful. But the next day, right outside the township of Jasper, we saw a blonde bear and two cubs run across the road. (Technically, it would be called a blonde black bear. I ain't kidding. Look it up.) I told Greg our trip had been made: two unusual sightings and OK photos from each.






































Now that that was out of the way, we could relax and just enjoy. Without much effort, we bagged photos of the usual elk, big horned sheep and a black bear.

























Well, hello! This guy was on the side of the road and when I rolled down my window to take his photo, he was RIGHT THERE.















And this elk was eating leaves along a path we walked on. We kept our distance, not wanting to disturb him. Don't forget, I was using a zoom lens! We aren't idiots. OK, keep your opinions to yourself.
































Despite these animal sightings, the visit was starting to feel routine. Jasper was our go-to place for company during the 3 years we lived in Calgary. We were starting to feel like we had seen it all- a few times- until I read that we might be able to see salmon swimming upstream. Holy Halifax, Canada! There are always new things to see!

Here's the thing. Watching the salmon throw themselves hard against the water and the rocks and then seeing all the dead ones upstream was really sad. I started a blog post in my head titled, "It Sucks to be a Salmon" but abandoned the idea because it was too much the bummer.

Salmon don't eat for like, a month, before spawning. They put everything they have into making it against the current and up the falls they encounter. We never could get a shot of one in the air because it happens too fast but this red guy in the photo was resting after an attempt.
















We followed their journey to a spot upstream where a salmon expert/volunteer explained the whole grizzly business. After spawning, the salmon die. Their decomposing bodies provide nutrition for the new little salmon babies. "Thanks, Mom and Dad! You died giving me life and now I"m gonna EAT you!"































I'm glad we experienced salmon running upstream, but it isn't the beautiful spectacle you see on TV. Wait, what am I talking about? Those poor bastards on TV usually wind up being torn to shreds by a bear. Thank God I didn't see any of that carnage.

I think I'll concentrate on my pretty photos of  living, healthy animals and believe they live in Disney's version of forest life- dancing, happy animals like Winnie the Pooh, Donald Duck and Bambi. BAMBI?? Damn.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Working the Twerk

I came across a scrap of paper today on which I wrote potential song titles using variations of the word "twerk." It may seem odd that I would spend time brainstorming and actually writing down this list but that ain't nothing compared to my odd compulsion to create a blog post about it. Hey- you never know when this list will come in handy. Welcome to my brain.

So, without further ado, here's the list:

We Can Twerk It Out
Twerking 9 to 5
Twerkin' in a Coal Mine
Twerking for a Living
She Twerks Hard for the Money

Feel free to add your own in the comment section! Or is twerking already yesterday's news?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Green Gates Park

When I was a kid, my Mom would occasionally take us to Green Gates Park to feed the ducks or walk the trails. In hindsight, she was probably losing her mind at home with four kids and needed a place to let us run around. I have vague, happy memories of the place.

Since we're here on Long Island for the summer, I wanted to find Green Gates again. My sisters and my Mom don't remember it at all and when I gave them an idea of where I thought it was, they came up with the name of a completely different park. A google search produced nothing. I started to wonder if my memory was wrong.

I turned to Facebook, asking my old hometown buddies if they remember a park named Green Gates. Arthur came through. He gave me the exact location AND it's new name. So yesterday when Greg and I were hanging around not doing much, I suggested we check it out.

Oh, and by the way, a resident sticker is required and dogs are not allowed. I spoke to a park ranger on the phone before driving 30 minutes over there. He gave us permission to walk around since nothing special was going on in the park and the gloomy weather was keeping people away.



Green Gates has been renamed "Bill Richards Memorial Park." And in the thirty years since I walked it's dirt paths, the foliage has grown and grown and grown. (Imagine that!)



















Walking around the pond wasn't easy in spots because of the low hanging branches and marshy areas. 
























But most of the trail looked like this.






















And there were swans!

















It was a pleasant enough hour or so but not the park I remember from my childhood. Maybe you need to be 5 years old and chasing a sister to appreciate it. :)