Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Bergman Night

These days it feels like I am living inside of a Bergman film. 

When I am not at school, I spend the remainder of my spare time keeping busy.  I  hope that busy hands makes for empty mind, but as busy as I keep the hands, I cannot help but be mired in thought about the my current life challenges.  I walk with trepidation,  as around every corner is a sinister clown holding a placard with the next challenge. 

And all the time the film is playing, the snow is falling and it always feels like night.

I have to be brave I tell myself.  I have to go forward. 
But I want to put my hand up and say "I want a time out from all of this!!!" 

 I HATE having to grow up and realize that there are NO time outs.

And the little child in me whimpers and cries and wants to be assured that everyone lives happily ever after. Forever. And ever.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Etsy Shop and the Marketing Challenge

I may be crazy, giving myself more work to do by opening another Etsy shop, but I feel that each one has its own unique products, and that they are deserving of their own showcases. Plus, let's face it.  When stressful situations hit me, I go into a mode of needing something to distract me.  The trick is, making it a healthy distraction.....and this go-around I have decided it is going to be concentrating on my house and my art as a necessary and POSITIVE means of sublimation. And it doesn't hurt that I have been granted two snow days in a row, and have the time to work on my own business instead of someone else's.

Right now, I have the CATSKILLPAPER shop, for my antique paper and collectibles, PAGIBBONS, for my fine art, general cards and decorative items, and now, the recent new shop, NURSERY CRIMES for my left of center work. 

It takes a lot of work to get these shops set up as I have to maintain different emails for each one (rather ludicrous that you can't use one for all, but I guess this might make for better security?) but in the end it is a method of advertising what I do out into the world.  I have to make more art to fill up the stores, and then figure out how to better promote them. 

Which is a blog unto to better promote our shops. (readers, if you have contributions to make towards this conversation, I am wanting you to post them!!!!)

I have my stores names in my signatures, and in the signatures of any groups that I am active with on Yahoo.  I periodically post on Facebook and Twitter, though I don't like to bombard my friends and readers with too much advertising.  It IS necessary however, for an artist/musician/writer to self promote as no one can enjoy what we do if we do it in a vacuum.   I don't have money for an advertising budget, but I am considering having postcards made up with the images of some of my favorite pieces on it.  One of a landscape Painting, one of a fine art collage,  and one of my card design work.  They make fairly inexpensive promotional pieces, and I can list all of my online presences on the back of the card.   If I design it the right way, it can be designed as a regular post card, so that someone could even mail it out.  Postcards are also easy to post on bulletin boards, or put into a rack of postcards that can usually be found at community galleries and other such places.  Heck, I wish I were wealthy enough to print up cards and just leave them all over the place!

BRAINSTORM.  What a fun future project to do.  The wheels are turning.

And, I would love a comment about my new store banner.  Have been thinking of making up some digital banners and selling them on Etsy many ideas, so little time.

Patti O Snow

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Day in the Studio

I spent at least four hours in the studio this afternoon, designing and creating art. It was four blessed hours that I tried not to think about the complications in my life, and I did not take the portable phone in with me as I did not want to break my quietude with conversation.

I am worked on several projects, one being thank you stationery to write to each person who signed my card and made a contribution at work.  I got exactly the amount for a plane ticket to Kentucky to see Megan from my amazing and thoughtful co-workers, and I want to design each friend a one-of-a-kind note

I am making memory/scrap books in my Women's Studies/Art class, and am working one step ahead of them.It will be fun going on the journey with them.

I am also designing cards for a friend's pet boutique, and cards to refill my stock. (Info on the location to be given at a later date.)

And last, but not least, are two of the fun cards I made which I will probably list on Etsy.  This is how I make myself laugh while working, and eventually someone falls in love with them.

patti o studio

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

To Miracles and Magic

I have spent my past few blogs whining about this and that...telling my stories with as much humor as I can muster.  I tell these stories not as a victim, but as a survivor who finds ways to deal with life in hopes that I will inspire, comfort, and humor my readers, as well as myself.  

What I have neglected to tell you is that over the past several weeks, there have been little bursts of magic that have graced my life in between the difficulties, and they have arrived in many different forms.

Like the check I got from my mortgage company for the left over money in my escrow account which got me out of the hole that I was in.  Or the card that my co-workers gave me filled with enough money to buy a round trip ticket to Nashville so that I can help Megan.  Or the gift of cookies that I found outside my door (and let me tell you, Karin's cookies are no ordinary cookies...she is from Germany and these cookies are HEAVENLY).  A homemade loaf of bread. A red rose. A lovely photo that a Facebook friend who doesn't even know me is sending to me to bring to my daughter.  A beautiful piece of art  I won from a comment I posted on an artist's blog....which was written from my heart.  Some of these gifts have made me cry--tears of joy --  knowing that there is so much love in the world, and I am grateful to have been blessed with it.  I celebrate the miracle of feeling whole in having learned how to accept love and to give it.  It's been a long journey to come to this place.

Tonight's photo was taken from inside my house looking out into the driveway.  I like its nebulous  space from the reflections- off to find that space in the world of dreams.


Monday, February 15, 2010

The Truth be Told Part III- A L O N G one

This is the blog you have all been waiting for.

The neighbors.

I have lived in this city for about 25 years, and mostly in the house I live in now.  I have lived a block away from crack houses, across the street from funeral homes, near busy intersections, and most of the time have had good relationships with my neighbors. 

When I bought this house with No. 2 in 1991, it was in a lovely upscale neighborhood with 1920's houses on it.  Nice neighbors, well kept houses.  On our street live judges, lawyers, retirees, school administrators, the old D.A.  You get the drift.

But there was one problem with the house next to me, that I found out after I moved in.  The owner chose not to follow the city leash and pick up law and he let his dog out off leash and the dog promptly came over and used our yard as his bathroom.  Seems the person who lived here before us did not care.The lawn was half dead, and I had two pre-pubescent children.  They were constantly stepping in dog crap.

One day while I was sick, they threw the dog crap into the neighbors yard and it landed on their car.  I got a phone call from the screaming owner threatening me that if I ever did that again there would be trouble. I informed him that just because he was a lawyer he did not scare me and that HE, not I, was the one breaking the law, and I hung up.

Dog was put on a chain from that point forth, and eventually we said hi, bye, beautiful day, how do you do,  as normal neighbors are apt to do.

Flash forward 18 years. That neighbor rents his house out to a single woman with four teenagers and a huge black lab.  I knew I was in trouble when she first met me and said "I like to play my music really loud, I hope that is OK with you, if not, let me know."

The lab was left out loose all the time, and would bark 20' from my house for hours on end.  His huge poops littered my yard.  Her kids fought, screamed, threw their boyfriends things out the windows.  Tires screeched, people cursed, and the house next door turned into trash city.

I tried talking to the ex-neighbor landlord, but to no avail. He even went as far as telling his tenants that he also had problems with me and the dog. (WTF? I was NOT the one breaking the law, and I told her this!) He basic line to me was "do what you have to do".  In other words as long as I get my money,  I really don't care what is going on there.

One day where there was a particularly messy domestic dispute right outside from where I was sitting, I went upstairs, got down my boom box, put in the Ride of the Valkyries by Wagner, and blasted the CD for 1/2 hour.  Perfect music for domestic violence I think, no?  They got the message.  It was quiet for the rest of the afternoon.

I tried talking to them, calling them, offering to help them clean the end of their driveway in snowstorms, but nothing worked.  Finally I started calling the dog warden, who in this city, seems to be pretty ineffective.

Finally my neighbor and I took photos, and submitted four complaints against them, and they have to go to court.  As a result, other small petty things have ensued in revenge I suppose for my standing up for myself.

They have taken to putting their trash  on our property during trash days, with their three or four huge cans full of pizza boxes and dirty diapers from the baby of one of the teens (I say if you can't take care of your dog, how you gonna raise your kids?) and it totally blocks my sidewalk, which I do shovel, unlike theirs.  Then they leave them there for 24-36 hours until one of the kids, usually the boy, or the mother, decides to bring them in.

Last week, when I got home, I put their cans smack in the middle of their driveway.  They were empty, but I figured it sent a message, esp when they came home and could not get into their driveway, and the kid had to get out of the car and put them away so big mama could pull in, and I think she still managed to hit one of them because I heard a thunk.

I called the sanitation dept, but this week, if they do it again, I am going to drag the full cans back into the middle of their driveway, only up a bit. Oh well if the garbage men don't want to walk that far. And, if it happens again, I will drag their cans back to the side of their house and the garbage won't get picked up at all.

Then there is a snow issue.  We shovel/snowblow our driveway and long sidewalk, always making sure that we don't blow it anywhere it would inconvenience a driver or neighbor. THEY shovel their driveway and then throw the snow from it into our shoveled sidewalk!!!!!!!!  So, now we are at war.  The next time that happens, bad back or no bad back, the snow will be removed back into their driveway, and I have a snowblower, and they don't.

To some of you this might sound petty and mean.  But I am at a point in my life where I have no patience for people without brains or who think they are entitled to live a lifestyle that hurts others.
I pay a good chunk of my hard earned money to my mortgage and taxes, and will not let the quality of my life be effected by people such as these.

Photo is of one of the piles of poop I cleaned up and left in their driveway where their car pulls in. It sat for days before someone cleaned it up. Subsequential poop was flung over onto their property, and whereever it lands, it lands.  Do you think that they would get the message? Nope.  And it seems like until they move I am going to have to assert myself but calling the city and taking my own steps.

The house is for sale. I hope the landlord and the realtor check on it often as the sign keeps either falling down or being taken down. 

Patti O War.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Truth be Told Part II

Life difficulty #2:  The Estate.
I tried to write about this,  but  I could not reduce it to something that is understandable.  In brief:   my aunt P  died, leaving three properties and no will.  It is complex, and my brothers and sister and I are legal heirs to the estate, as well as my  Aunt P 's  two sisters.  My father died 30+ years ago.and according to NYS law we are heirs to his portion, thus my part in this mess. One of the two living sisters lived with Aunt P in the family "homes" (3 of them)---for their entire lives!  (um..a little odd....but there is lots to this story)

We were all sent paperwork by Aunt A's lawyer, asking us to allow Aunt A to be executrix of the estate.  We signed it, though with  reservation, as we knew what an immense job it was going to be.  We knew Aunt P was a hoarder, but were beginning to sense that Aunt A was just as much to blame, and cleaning the main property was something she was not capable of doing.  But we gave her the benefit of the doubt, we signed the papers, and after spending time with her in the country house, I saw how she was living and knew we were in trouble.  We began to doubt  her ability to do anything other than lose the estate. 

We are not talking big money.  The house is in poor condition though it is still worth a decent amount of money because it is in Queens, and ANY property that can be worked on is worth money.   And, there are considerable leins on the house from my aunts medical bills,  loans etc. There is another property of a few acres with a cabin which needs to be knocked down, and one other house that Aunt A has her name on the deed and will remain hers (but ahem, needs WORK as they have put very little into it)

Part of me wants to be very Zen, and let things play out the way they do and hope for the best...otherwise known as "it all is what it is".  I see how messy this could get on many levels with brothers, sisters, aunts, and cousins, and I am not sure how much I can take of it with the already huge challenges of my job and family. 

Then there is the un Zen part of me that is angry about how all of this came to be, fueled by mental illness, dysfunctionality and denial.

But knowledge is power, I have a list of questions to ask my attorney friend see what kind of legal options, are available so that we can either proceed, or choose to let it play out. None of us can afford to put much money into this, and time is a precious commodity too.

I have only skimmed the surface.  There are layers and layers to this story.  There have been countless hours of discussion, obsessing, and I trying to become very clear as to what I am willing to take on.
The problem is....if Aunt A loses the estate, she not only loses every one else's claim to it, but most importantly her own....which is money she needs to live on and use for her own means. 

To be continued....

The Truth be Told Part III to follow.  The Neighbors (yes, the blog you all have been waiting for)

Ms. Patti O Estate

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Truth be Told Part I

I haven't written much.  Emotions have been too raw.  I wasn't writing out of the respect and wishes of  the parties involved.  But now that the cat is out of the bag, and I am less emotional and perhaps accepting of phase two of my life, I can share, breathe, and go forward.

Many of you have followed me over the years, especially in regards to my daughter....who looks like a cross between Angelina Jolie and Julia Roberts (oh so lovely lips which came from her father...not me) She served in Iraq, and well, the rest of the story is history and would make for an excellent book. Megan is a gifted writer..perhaps one day she will tell her own story.  She is a miracle child, and bore a miracle baby following her chemo, radiation, and severe pregnancy problems. She is a phoenix who has risen out of the ashes again and again.  It's not to say that she doesn't suffer from the things that have happened to her, in fact, it is quite the opposite.  But she keeps going forward, never letting anything get in her way.

Megan has been clear of cancer for the past three years.  During her remission she has been diagnosed with lupus, and had various complications from that.  Then it was discovered she had brain damage from one of her accidents.  Two weeks ago they found a spot on an x-ray in her throat.  She has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer- the kind being GIST, or gastrointestinal stromal tumor. A sarcoma of a sort.  The doctors are now questioning her previous diagnosis of leiomyosarcoma, which was done here in Kingston, but now there is no way of knowing that,  as it was a wet slide, and those can't be kept.  These two sarcomas are related, but have different treatment plans. (note to self: go straight to NYC if anything major is to befall me medically)

Bad news: inoperable. Good news: they found it before it became a death sentence.  It is small, about 1/4" in size. Most of these throat cancers are found too late. Hers was found in an incidental x-ray.  Another miracle.

She has started  her chemo, which is oral.  She is grateful for not being stuck with needles, and sitting for hours with a drip.  Four weeks into the chemo, she will be getting radiation.  Right now the side effects have been severe muscle cramping, but should subside in a day or so, till the next pill. 

Megan is in Kentucky, too far for me to cook for her and the family, to help her with the children so she can rest and do her college work.  She needs a live-in nanny.   I have many sick days, and have informed my boss that I fully intend to help her if she needs me.  Family first.  I learned that lesson a long time ago, and regret not staying home with my kids when I should have,  because I was afraid of missing work,  or that others would think less of me not showing up to the job.  (which theses days, is more like going to a war zone every day...)

So I have pulled out my brave heart and am ready to fight with her.  If she can go to college while undergoing all of this, and get an A, then I must bear this with dignity,  and save the blubbery moments for the movies.  I will also be kind to myself, and do things that give me strength, whether it be quietude (that is why many of you have sensed I have dropped off the earth) or the studio, or a visit to the gym.  And I have been cooking and feeding others as somehow that heals my heart.

The Truth Be Told- Part II or "I'm Not Going to Take it Anymore" to follow.

Patti O Tales

PS Check out those baby blues on her husband....who has a tough job working for the Army, and
having to take on a big load.....hugs to you Dole.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

1001 starts

I have started half a dozen blogs and erased them all.
Too many fragments, too many emotions, too many things.

My comment for the day on Facebook, was "Notes BACK to the Universe: when you give me a plateful, would you give me something bigger than a gherkin fork to deal with it?

So for now, I leave you with someone else's art.  I have checked out her other videos and songs.This Swedish songstress will be my muse tomorrow while I hide in the studio and make chicken salad out of chicken shit (quote attributed to my orthopedic surgeon post surgery when I started walking again)...and process my next move.

Click on link below to take you to another world. I love the rawness and the power of this video.
When I Grow Up

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Sketch of the Day

I miss my studio, but somehow the past two weeks have crippled me in one way or another from starting a painting or any other project for that matter.  Health, life, and time issues have robbed me of my energy, as well as my inspiration.

Strangely I am OK with is.  I watch movies when I can, look at art, read, enjoy a ride in the country, or getting a massage.  I know the muse will visit again, when she knows I can be more prepared to make a date with her.

In order to sharpen my observation and hand/eye skills,  and not feel totally stale, I have attempted to make a sketch a night, even if it is a quick action drawing before I retire.  I am also trying to push the limits of what I am comfortable with.  The inside of my bedroom contains no mountains or trees, but it sure hosts other creatures and objects.  I find this exercise akin to bricollage (something made or put together using whatever materials happen to be available) which is a method I have used to make some of my strongest pieces.

I am not comfortable with drawing people. In fact, I am downright bad.  But I sketched this from a book I was reading about the painting methods of the Impressionists, and I came across a photograph of french painter Edourd Vuillard.  His mood projects how I have felt on and off a few times this week.
Only I have more hair on my head and less on my face.

Off to sketch my next victim/subject, before I watch Anne Boleyn lose her head. Or maybe that is in the next episode.


Monday, February 01, 2010

From the Car

On the way over to Stockbridge, Larry and I stopped in Rhinebeck.  Brunch at Bread Alone very good, although quite buzzing with constant activity.  I HAD to go to Winter Sun, Summer Moon, where we found a fabulous Salt Crystal Lamp.

I had hesitated on buying a frivolity, but it was a good call, Larry. It sits on Carol's angel table, casting a warm glow in the darkened room, throwing out oh-so-wonderful negative ions out in the air to counter balance the positive ions that my computer bombards me with as I type.

I could not leave town without stopping into Rhinebeck Artists Shop, owned by my neighbor Doug.  I had never been there before and could not resist taking a look and a sniff (oh how I love the smell of art supplies).  I bought some Strathmore Sugar Cane Cards to try out, as I have wanted to be greener in the work that I put out into the world.  No more virgin fiber cards!!!!   I also bought a lovely Pentalic Recycled Drawing Book.

We weren't quite to Hillsdale when I spied a landscape that came too fast for the camera.
Focus, light, color, mental click, observe from another direction, another mental click. I whipped out my new sketchbook, but did not have a pen within reach.  Larry graciously lent me his pen and it was quite the honor  to sketch with his ball point, as anyone who knows Larry - knows does not lend his things out!

The photo above is the sketch, a impression of a fleeting landscape.   I may submit this sketch along with another to this month's WAAM show - the call for entry being mock-ups, sketches and such. 

Comments always welcomed.

Oh, and here's the lamp.
Peace Out, Patti O Glow