Thursday, June 18, 2009

Feeling Themeless

Why do you create? Whether it's writing, making art, or creating something with your hands, why do you do it? I have been struggling with this idea for a while, and I really don't know the answer to it. I'm beginning to see glimpses of the answer for me, personally, and I'm not liking what I'm beginning to understand about myself.

The first answer some of us may give is, "Because I can." And that answer works, to a certain degree, with me too. That answer falls under the category of having a talent and using it, but upon closer inspection, I find fault with myself by doubting whether I CAN, in fact. That is, do I really have a talent or merely a propensity? How do I measure up when comparing myself with others? Can I justify the time and money spent on creating objects or pieces of work that are made to give or trade with others and that have no lasting significance other than the fleeting satisfaction given to the maker or the recipient?

Because I do not create "fine" art, I am beginning to believe that the ephemeral existence of my pieces does not justify their creation. What happens with the things I am making after a couple of years? When I die, I will be leaving behind thousands of dollars of supplies that my survivors will either pitch or sell at tag sales. Will there be some of my descendants who will treasure and display my creations? I don't think so. First of all, look at what we are doing to the Victorians' scrapbooks. We're tearing them apart for the German paper cuts and the calling cards to use in our own pieces. Our own society is not one of saving and treasuring items of the past; we are living in a throw-away society where each item has its own obsolescence programmed into itself.
The ephemeral nature of paper arts and hand-crafted items is not the only reason I am struggling with this issue. I am also beginning to understand my true motives for creating. I think I am looking for recognition. Can this be good? It seems narcissistic in nature. There is a book out now, and I don't remember the title, but it examines why the social networking sites like Blogger, Facebook, My Space, Twitter, all these things that people are using to talk about their lives, are so popular right now. I believe its premise is that at some level, people are all insecure narcissists who need to have someone admire them for something and/or make their lives matter for something. I think I fall into this category. Can that be healthy? Why am I putting this out here now? To sound important? To make you feel sorry for me? To have you reassure me that what I do is important? Or is the answer to all my questioning merely that I think too much?

I am probably doing just what every other person in the world does at some point or other and which a philosopher (again, can't remember who) calls the stages of man. I am at the point in my life where I am questioning whether my existence has made a difference on the planet. I think I just need to get to the point of acceptance and stop worrying about all of this stuff. But how am I ever going to justify the money I have spent on all these art supplies? Maybe my claim to fame after I am gone will be, "Man, look at all the cool stuff she had!"

Friday, June 12, 2009


I haven't been very faithful to my blog here lately. I can't really come up with an excuse except that I've been on Facebook a Bunch! I think I owe that to my good buddy Michele, who introduced me to the evils of Bejeweled Blitz, a game on Facebook. Plus, several of my sisters and other relatives are members there and it makes it easier for us to catch one or the other of us online and chat. Cheaper than calling! It's actually pretty funny to catch up with friends from back in the day when none of had personal computers, to find that we all own them in the here and now.

I've been working on some Swap-bot swaps as usual, and these are the latest of what I've snapped pics of. The Victorian Row House almost didn't make it out the door. I wanted to keep it for myself. I guess the things you make that you want to hang on to are the best ones. If they are good enough to meet my standards, then I deem them good enough for others. I like the Vegas Showgirl dolls ok, but the outfits didn't turn out quite the way I envisioned them. I did like using the Marilyn Monroe doll as the model for the showgirls. I have asked to join a new group, Chunky Row House Group because they are making all sorts of these cute little row houses. The purpose of the row house, besides being cute, is that they are to be displayed side by side like - well, like row houses. The one I did has copper roofs and sheet acrylic printed with black STayzon ink. I used two of Tim Holtz spinners put together with a brad to make a weathervane. Like I said, I didn't want to send it off. But, my swap buddy Ayn, in Alaska, won out in the end, and she has it coming her way.

In other news, my mother has been looking around for a place to rent while waiting on th insurance to settle on her house and contents. Thank goodness my sister, Susan, who is a public insurance adjuster, came up from N.C. and found a company that does reciprocal work for them and put Mom in some good hands.

Mom has it in her head that she wants ot live out in the country now, and I've tried my best to talk her out of it. The reason I don't think she should move out into the country is because it is so much harder to live out in the country in the wintertime, and she is too old to move to the country by herself. She's 73, and I know that is not real old, but she is old enough that I think she needs neighbors. She's stubborn though, so I imagine the country is where she will be going.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Road Trip to Hollo's or On a Paper Buying Spree

Today was road trip day. My friend, Michele, and I went to Medina, Ohio, to a place called Hollo's that sells paper by the pound. I didn't look at my receipt, so I don't know how many pounds I bought, but I can tell you that I had trouble lifting the box it was in! I bought mainly whites and neutrals, but I also bought a few sheets of some 12 X 12 colored card stock. Also, today was my lucky day because they had the thinner chipboard that I like to use to back dolls and such. The last couple of times I was there, they had book board which, while nice for book covers, is way too thick to back anything with it.

Michele played personal shopper for a friend of hers via telephone, so she ended up with lots of paper and card stock, too. Both of us bought some really nice little folding boxes to use for mailing out swap-bot goodies, and we both bought some aluminum foil carry-out ware. The prices were really good on these items. I like to keep them on hand so when I make something to eat to take to someone, I don't have to worry about getting my dishes back or making extra clean-up for the people who I'm taking the food to.

We both sifted through the tons of craft goodies in their annex room, and mostly we resisted all the "stuff" in there, although both of us bought some beads. I have an idea that most of the stuff comes from down the road at a place call Pat Catan's because it was mostly Darice stuff, and that's what Pat Catan's carries. I had to work really hard to resist all the handmade Japanese papers in the annex. I have tons of that stuff already, but what I really wanted were the prints. I can't remember what they were called, but they were $9.50 a sheet, so I didn't get any. New rule: Use what you have and then you can buy some more. Like I'm gonna listen to rules!!!

After dropping Michele off, I got the idea that I was going to run down south to Delaware, Ohio, to go to Cord Camera because I want some of those tiny Basic Grey magnets, and I can't remember where I bought my last bunch. Cord didn't have any of them, and it looked like the economic slowdown has affected the scrapbooking industry because they didn't have anywhere near the inventory they used to carry. I did find some gorgeous Bazzil Bling papers in some scrumptious colors ocean-y colors. Don't know what I'm going to make with them yet, but they are pretty to look at!

I've been working in my studio area and have added new shelving, a 12 X 12 paper spinner rack, and lots of organizing baskets. One of these days I am actually going to have an area bigger than a postage stamp in which to work.

I haven't heard anything more from Mom. My sister from North Carolina is supposed to be here today to help act as a go between for Mom and the adjuster. That's what Sue does for a living, so hopefully she will be able to help Mom get reimbursed for everything she has coming to her that was destroyed in the fire. Even though she's not licensed in Ohio, she and her husband have a friend from Cleveland who will be acting for her. It will be interesting to see what Mom comes out of it with because she had tons of vintage and antique goodies squirreled away. Her cookbook collection alone was almost 300 books and it was all destroyed. If anyone can get her money out of them, it will be sister Sue. She is a pit bull when she judges someone is taking advantage of her!

Monday, June 1, 2009


You know when the phone rings in the hours between midnight and six A.M. that it's a harbinger of bad news, and last night was no exception to the rule. Our phone rang around 4:00 A.M. Monday morning and brought the news that my mother's house had burned down. The good news is that Mom was awakened by the smoke detector and got out in time. She was able to get herself and my dad's old Lab, Winnie, out safely. Everything else is gone.

This old house wasn't worth much as far as real estate values go, but it provided many years' worth of memories for our family. This is the house Mom moved into at the age of seventeen, and where we moved to when I was in fifth grade. It's the house we crammed twelve children and two adults into its three bedrooms. It's the house we all brought our spouses home to meet our parents, and it's the place we all brought our children to for the holidays. It's the home we all ran to when our father died four years ago. Now it's nothing but a burnt-out pile of rubble, but I had to run to it one more time to see for myself what it had become. And I cried. And I'm crying right now.

I didn't think I had much emotional attachment left to the old place because it seemed like I couldn't get away from it fast enough when I was a teenager. I was ashamed of its lack of amenities for almost all my life. I railed at Mom all the time to clean it up, empty it of all her "junk" and didn't visit her as much as I should have because of the house. I even hated it. Now that it's been reduced to a pile of charred wood and broken glass, I'm homesick for it. Now I see the value in it. Now I understand some of what Mom feels for the old place. Dilapidated, run-down, decrepit, at least it had stories and memories and life within those shabby walls. Soon it will be an empty lot because Mom says she's not living there on that land in a different house. And I get it. Now. When it's too late.

But. Mom is alive and that is worth more than any house on the planet. So we start making new memories. Now. And it's not too late for that.

I picked this bouquet of pink roses from the bush in the front yard. Although the bulldozer will come through soon enough and level everything and trucks will cart off all the rubble, they are a symbol of hope. I know this because Mom will be digging like a crazy lady, and you can bet these roses will bloom again in another yard.