Monday, May 26, 2008

Spring cold

It's Memorial Day, gray and cloudy, raining off and on. I'm sick with a stupid chest cold. I got sick last Thursday and dutifully stayed in bed and took all my herbs/homeopathics/OTC things I normally take to whip one of these things. And it didn't.

My energy was pretty good so I got up and worked on Friday as we are in the really busy season of our studio. We are stocking up our stores for their summer season. So we didn't get the weekly shipping done as we were already behind for the week even without me not being at the bench for a day. grr.

I felt even crappier by the end of the day, but again, my energy was still reasonable. So I got up on Saturday and got to work on some projects that had been lingering since December. We are wrapping the walls of our spare bedroom with cleat style bookshelves for some of our zillion books which are in storage due to the renovations we started on the house 2 years ago.

I asked that the wood be finished before it was installed as it is a whole lot easier for me to do the sanding and finishing with the boards flat on a sawhorse. Once they are installed it's a major pain. The bookshelves in the living room were installed unfinished and I've only managed to get one coat of finish on them and that took the best part of a weekend. And they have silted it so I when I get time to put the second coat on them I will have to box up all the books, CDs, paperwork, DVDS, games, and junk that just ended up there and do a light sand to clean them before I get the final finish coat on them. grr.

So I got about half of the shelves finished last December when we had our 2 weeks when the studio was closed and we do our renovation work. So only half got installed. There was also a few bits of trim for the doors in the hallway that needed painted. And about 30 board feet of old barn board that will go into making boxes that will be hung on the wall above our bed to be our "headboard". The barn board needed a sand and a couple of coats of finish as well.

I got all of it done! I had to sit down every couple of hours and rest, but I kept at it until everything was finished and all the tools put away. I had almost lost my voice and my chest and head were quite unhappy with me ignoring them. But after being sick for so long this winter, I was not ready to be sick again. I tried ignoring the symptoms pretty hard hoping that they would go away.

So Sunday I spent in bed. No so successful with the ignoring. I am feeling better today. Still have a cough, but not bad. I need to head to bed again and take more stuff to try and be all better by tomorrow.

The seeds M put in the old garden just outside the door have sprouted and are doing really well! She put in some fun tomatillos and tomatoes as well. It's very affirming to have growing things around. I am sure they are enjoying the rain today.

I can't remember the last time we took a vacation day and I'm, of course, sick. My dad always said that being sick on your vacation was a sign of a true professional. I always love when people are all envious about us being self-employed. They always say something like: you get to set your own hours. Like when you work for yourself you get to work from 4:00 p.m. until 5:15 p.m. and then knock off to count your checks. I always answer them by saying - "yep, I get to work any 23 out of 24 hours that I choose!" Most people don't like hearing that. It messes with their dream.

But it has gotten better the past few years. We are now taking at least 2 weekends off a month, sometimes more depending on shows. Art shows are always on the weekend so that means pretty much no time off as the studio schedule is based on 5 days at the bench. Our wholesale orders are becoming large and steady enough that we are doing fewer and fewer retail shows.

Retail shows are not becoming less expensive to do even though the sales at the shows have dropped dramatically. It used to be that the goal was to sell 10 times your booth fee. If the booth cost $300, you should sell $3,000 for it to worth the time out of studio and all the other expenses related to the show. Now folks are pretty happy if they sell 3 times their booth fee. There are longer and longer times between customers and when a customer does come, they are generally buying a lot less.

I sure see the packed full parking lots at WalMart though.

If you get a chance, get out and go to a small local art event. Try to find something handmade to buy that you can afford and that you enjoy. Maybe it's a mug. Maybe it's a bracelet. Maybe a scarf. As you use that item, you will remember the day you bought it. It will become symbolic of the summer and the good times you had. It will come to mean a whole lot more than a similar imported from China item which you bought at a big box store for less money. Spend some time chatting with the artist. Remember them when you use their art. Maybe buy a piece from them next year to go with this piece. The depth of life is richer when you know who made something that you use.

Maybe if more people supported their local artists it would increase the quality of the life of the patron as well as the artist. I am sad to say that there are very talented artists who are having to leave the business due to financial pressures.

I am working very hard to have fewer but better quality things in my life. I am trying to buy things made in the USA. (REALLY hard to do) I am getting rid of things that I don't use. I am going to reduce my beloved mementos down to a couple of boxes. (You have no idea how sentimental I actually am. I have 20 or so boxes of bits of paper that I never look at but can't bring myself to throw away because they are cards that somebody sent me, etc.)

Well, I better get back to bed with a detour by the bottles and bottles of stuff I am taking. blech.

Hope you are all doing well and feeling much better than I am.


Jim Downey said...

(Well, evidently my first comment was lost in the ether. Annoying. Try again.)

Sorry to hear about the cold, Spike. No fun. None at all.

I completely empathize with the "Support your local artists" thing. Fought that fight for 8 years with the gallery, then two more as a columnist. As I noted in my farewell column: ( )

But for now, I'll admit that I am tired. Partly this is the deep weariness that comes with care-giving over a prolonged period. But I'm also tired of fighting the same fight, of trying to persuade people that their claim of supporting the arts has to be more than mere words or attendance at parties and receptions - that it has to include buying actual art from actual artists and galleries locally. Including the time I had Legacy Art, I've been doing this for over a decade. It has gotten old. There are only so many ways you can say "open your wallet and buy something, dammit."

Get well.

Jim D.

Spike said...

Thanks, Jim! I am feeling better!

I remember that column. I think about it often. It has pushed me to buy what it is that I can afford when I can afford it at the various art shows we attend.

It certainly has been my experience that I have never regretted a piece of art that I have bought. What I have regretting is NOT buying something as you can never find it again. There is a garden sculpture of a wildly estactic woman dancing that I didn't buy. I think about it often and am sad. I've never been able to find anything like it again.

Good to see you are starting to come back on-line after your long ordeal.