Relaxed, Renewed, Rejuvenated…….

DSCN0348Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe – just one of many stops on our 3-week jaunt into Northern California. This was an amazing few weeks, and probably only the second vacation we’ve done where we could truly say we were relaxed. Too many years and our opinion of California was based on LA and San Diego. Little did we realize just how wonderful northern California is.

Lots of small towns, no big box stores, local restaurants, vibrant main streets. Nothing like depressed (in so many ways) Tucson.  Once we got north of Edwards Air Force Base and Mojave, we got into some magical country. I haven’t downloaded camera photos yet, but I wanted to get impressions.

Majestic, from Yosemite to the sea.  From the Redwoods to the shore in front of Monterey Aquarium. We would sit at night on our porches (when we were lucky to find hotels that had nice outside spots) and talk about how gorgeous everything was, and how could we translate what we had seen into fiber. The best example of how in sync we are is that we are both standing in front of the jellyfish exhibit of orange jellies, both of us thinking about recreating these creatures in fiber….hubby with how he would marble the colors, and me with how I could stabilize some marbled chiffon so I could do stitching and still have it supple enough to move with the air.

This has led us to developing a new series for future work: Preservation. This can encompass loads of ideas – the environment, the written word, languages we are losing – so many possibilities, all attempted with marbled fabrics.

We enjoyed five glorious days in a cabin overlooking Monterey Bay (at 1600 feet elevation) that we found on Airbnb – our first time using it, and we were thrilled with all aspects of it. Great conversation with the guys at the cabin, great meals…and lots of mosqitoes, which I discovered after the fact (bought the cortizone on Thursday). We sat, read, and looked at the views. Supermoon Saturday had the full moon sneaking behind some redwoods, and the bay was perfectly clear all night, with the lights of the fishing boats visible from our deck. So nice to be wearing jeans and a sweat shirt for a change and enjoying chilly, moist air, which made the trip back to Tucson so difficult.

Met a long-time friend in Bakersfield for an overnight. I love how years can go by, and you pick right up where you left off. We had a ball trying to figure out a stubborn sewing machine so we could machine quilt on it, and then drowned our frustrations in some amazing dinner at Moo Creamery in Bakersfield. Ya haveta go if you’re in the area.

logoMade new friends, talked art in a lot of galleries, bought new spices and teas…and took lots of pictures. I have decided I need to upgrade my camera, as it is sllloooowwwwww doing what I want it to do.

Coming back to the desert only reaffirms our decision to move east. Near water and surrounded by green, friendly people, vibrant communities, and a state very friendly to artists (unlike Tucson, but that’s another whole blog post.) We both have our lists of things to do, we’re marbling next week to stock our Etsy store and try for some new fabrics, I’m writing up a storm, as I have set myself a deadline of July 31 to have the rough draft of my novel done. Life is good!

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Quality Materials and Pricing Your Materials Cost

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Evening Moon

This being sick for so long has really put a dent in my creativity, completion of projects, and overall well-being. I am trying to catch up on an online gallery class  by a gallery owner in Scottsdale, AZ, Jason Horejs. The assignment I am reading now talks about pricing out your cost of materials, as well as looking at the quality of materials. There are too many ideas floating around in my head to try and leave a plain comment, so I wanted to “think it all out” in a post.

We’ve priced out cost for our marbling a lot of times. Carrageenan keeps increasing, cotton fabric is increasing, and we’ve changed paints because of pigment issues. Probably doesn’t hurt to do the costing again. A half pound of carrageenan in over $30. We can get 8 marbling sessions out of that. So $3.75 per session for carrageenan. We spend $6.00 for each bottle of paint. In one session we use the equivalent of 1 full bottle. So there’s another $6.00. Cotton fabric – we buy prepared-for-dyeing fabric from Dharma (which isn’t wholesale at all but is the best we’ve found to be able to use – offshore fabrics won’t take the paint well). Cotton runs about $7.95 yard, and we attempt to do about four half-yards each session, is not more. That’s $16.00 for fabric. Alum (pretty cheap) and distilled water (also pretty cheap) are the rest of the supplies. Probably $3.00 per session. That’s $28.75 for the marbling session, not counting prep time and clean-up time.

originally we used to sell our fat quarters for $6.50, more for the half-yards. The prices of supplies have gone up, so fat quarters are now $8.00. There are 4 fat quarters to a yard of fabric. If all we do are 4 fats, each would cost out to  $7.19.  Eight fats cost to $3.59. Better, but not accounting for labor. That’s one reason why we try to do 12 fats and a lot of remnant pieces, which sell well on eBay, where people want something for virtually nothing. Twelve fats is $2.40 a piece, considerably better. We’ve found  that there is an upper limit on what people will pay for a relatively small piece of fabric (18 x 24 inches). I’m not sure we can raise our prices much more, yet we are having success selling on Etsy and charging about a dollar more per piece. We make our money on the larger art pieces.

Concerning wholesale, Dharma, where we get our fabric, does not wholesale at all. We can get a bolt of fabric from Kona Bay, but we need to dye the fabric first before it will take the marbling. More labor, a little more expense, but certainly a cheaper source of fabric, but we’re not finding much of a market yet for those fat quarters. Our carrageenan we get from a fellow marbler whose prices are about $10.00 cheaper, and  he also mixes the paints we need to a specific formula, so there is no variation in pigments. The acrylics we used to use (that we cheap) no longer work, due to pigment issues, water issues, and offshore fabrics. For the amount of labor involved in marbling, we learned early on not to use cheap fabric. The fibers rot, and it fades. We’ve not found that problem with well-produced fabrics.

As for the art pieces, Arizona is not a big market for fiber art, especially if it is not western. We have sold pieces, though. We tend to price based on earlier appraisals of our work and what we see for other fiber artists with comparable work. We need more current appraisals of our latest works, and then adjust prices accordingly.

There was a lot of discussion about framing. Most of our fiber pieces can hang directly on the wall, yet is seems that folks want them somehow framed, so we have taken to wrapping a canvas frame in black fabric and then sewing the piece to the fabric on the canvas. That way the piece hangs away from the wall, and it seems to look better. One of my goals is to do more pieces like this and see if we can develop a market for them.

So probably more than you wanted to know, but it is useful to revisit a cost analysis every few years. I’d welcome comments on what you’ve discovered in pricing your materials cost.

 

Operation Overlord: D-Day 70 Years Later

As an American History major, I have read extensively on World War Two, primarily the European Theater, and to a much smaller extent the Pacific Theater. My father was on the Murmansk run in the Soviet Union and then to India, my father-in-law trained pilots in India to fly over the Hump, and my step-father was two islands ahead of MacArthur with the First Cavalry. My father’s best friend was in a tank battalion in France. My sister-in-law’s mother was a nurse in the Philippines. I taught with a principal who was home guard in Hawaii, and an English teacher who lost an arm in Italy with the 442nd. Yet all I learned about the war came from books.

On today’s anniversary, I am reminded of lots of attempts to learn about the War. Waiting for a ticket for The Longest Day in the 1960′s, starring John Wayne and a lot of teen heart-throbs at the time. I remember at the tender age of 14, thinking we were lucky to have succeeded in winning those battles. When I showed The Longest Day to my AP History class in 1994, for the 50th anniversary, age and maturity made me see just how close we came to losing it all in Normandy. The whole film is available on YouTube, and it holds up very well.

There are a lot of articles out today that give a few hidden stories about D-Day. I’m going to spotlight them here in hopes you will click on them and read about ordinary people (and some not so ordinary, like the Queen of England) who fought in that war. May we always remember.

Exploding the Myths of the Normandy Landings

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The Critical Weather

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Footage of Soldiers Invading Normandy

D-Day: Then and Now

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Photos of Americans as they heard the news

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From the Smithsonian, archival footage of the invasion. Click on the picture for the video.

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And finally, the Heads of State at Remembrances:

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Always, always remember this Greatest Generation.

Memorial Day – in the Words of Howard Zinn

No one can really express these thoughts I have better than Howard Zinn. So I defer to him, a reprint of an earlier editorial of his that still rings true.

Published on June 2, 1976 in the Boston Globe (from the Zinn Reader)
Whom Will We Honor Memorial Day?
by Howard Zinn
Memorial Day will be celebrated … by the usual betrayal of the dead, by the hypocritical patriotism of the politicians and contractors preparing for more wars, more graves to receive more flowers on future Memorial Days. The memory of the dead deserves a different dedication. To peace, to defiance of governments.In 1974, I was invited by Tom Winship, the editor of the Boston Globe, who had been bold enough in 1971 to print part of the top secret Pentagon Papers on the history of the Vietnam War, to write a bi-weekly column for the op-ed page of the newspaper. I did that for about a year and a half. The column below appeared June 2, 1976, in connection with that year’s Memorial Day. After it appeared, my column was canceled.

* * * * *

Memorial Day will be celebrated as usual, by high-speed collisions of automobiles and bodies strewn on highways and the sound of ambulance sirens throughout the land.

It will also be celebrated by the display of flags, the sound of bugles and drums, by parades and speeches and unthinking applause.

It will be celebrated by giant corporations, which make guns, bombs, fighter planes, aircraft carriers and an endless assortment of military junk and which await the $100 billion in contracts to be approved soon by Congress and the President.

There was a young woman in New Hampshire who refused to allow her husband, killed in Vietnam, to be given a military burial. She rejected the hollow ceremony ordered by those who sent him and 50,000 others to their deaths. Her courage should be cherished on Memorial Day. There were the B52 pilots who refused to fly those last vicious raids of Nixon’s and Kissinger’s war. Have any of the great universities, so quick to give honorary degrees to God-knows-whom, thought to honor those men at this Commencement time, on this Memorial Day?

No politician who voted funds for war, no business contractor for the military, no general who ordered young men into battle, no FBI man who spied on anti-war activities, should be invited to public ceremonies on this sacred day. Let the dead of past wars he honored. Let those who live pledge themselves never to embark on mass slaughter again.

“The shell had his number on it. The blood ran into the ground…Where his chest ought to have been they pinned the Congressional Medal, the DSC, the Medaille Militaire, the Belgian Croix de Guerre, the Italian gold medal, The Vitutea Militara sent by Queen Marie of Rumania. All the Washingtonians brought flowers .. Woodrow Wilson brought a bouquet of poppies.”

Those are the concluding lines of John Dos Passos angry novel 1919. Let us honor him on Memorial Day.

And also Thoreau, who went to jail to protest the Mexican War.

And Mark Twain, who denounced our war against the Filipinos at the turn of the century.

And I.F. Stone, who virtually alone among newspaper editors exposed the fraud and brutality of the Korean War.

Let us honor Martin Luther King, who refused the enticements of the White House, and the cautions of associates, and thundered against the war in Vietnam.

Memorial Day should be a day for putting flowers on graves and planting trees. Also, for destroying the weapons of death that endanger us more than they protect us, that waste our resources and threaten our children and grandchildren.

On Memorial Day we should take note that, in the name of “defense,” our taxes have been used to spend a quarter of a billion dollars on a helicopter assault ship called “the biggest floating lemon,” which was accepted by the Navy although it had over 2,000 major defects at the time of its trial cruise.

Meanwhile, there is such a shortage of housing that millions live in dilapidated sections of our cities and millions more are forced to pay high rents or high interest rates on their mortgages. There’s 90 billion for the B1 bomber, but people don’t have money to pay hospital bills.

We must be practical, say those whose practicality has consisted of a war every generation. We mustn’t deplete our defenses. Say those who have depleted our youth, stolen our resources. In the end, it is living people, not corpses, creative energy, not destructive rage, which are our only real defense, not just against other governments trying to kill us, but against our own, also trying to kill us.

Let us not set out, this Memorial Day, on the same old drunken ride to death.

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Top Ten Tuesday

DSCN5078   Another Tuesday, and I still keep finding lots of new ideas and posts to add for Tuesdays, and I still have a lot bookmarked! I also find myself going off on little research jaunts for my novel, with some interesting – and downright scary – disgusting articles. It is amazing what one can find on the net these days, and I chuckle when I remember the one cartoon making its rounds: a true friend is someone who will clear out your history cache on the internet when you die. I have really been reading some very strange stuff. But all of that is bookmarked in a separate place. What follows is the good, light-hearted stuff!

I thought this was quite cute. The site is in its infancy, but I like the premise. I will be following along to see just what they offer. Click on the pic to see more. I think the class offerings could be kind of interesting……

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The Eat Pray Love lady, Elizabeth Gilbert, recommends these books as ones that helped her become a writer. How many have you read?

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Useful websites you never knew existed – a lot to check out here.

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…and in my ongoing quest to eat healthy, the 15 grossest foods……yup, it’ll do the same thing Supersize Me did….

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Also available as a free download – 27 foods you should never eat.

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The 60 Most Powerful Photos Ever Taken – how many do you remember? The one I remember the most…..

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Limitations in a wheelchair? I don’t think so……

Molten aluminum in an ant hill? Look at this art…..

For Nelson Mandela – a flash mob…..

An Hour of Code – a way to help our youngsters learn computer coding – very cool!

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If you find cool stuff on line, send it along!

More Random Ramblings…..

KathyNida Yes! One of my favorite art quilters actually does exist beyond a blog!!! Kathy NIda (long i, as I have been pronouncing it wrong all these many years) is an artist I have been following for well over a decade, and it’s not just because she uses our marbled fabrics in her art quilts. She is one seriously cool lady – and amazing teacher to boot. We finally were able to get together on our last trip to San Diego, as she was also on school break. What a fun two hours! Laughing, lamenting, giggling, telling stories, talking shop – a fabulous time was had by all. Even better, I got to see one of her works at Visions Art Museum, and by far the best in the exhibit, which I didn’t really care for, especially after having seen the exhibit of fiber at the Mingei (yes, Kathy, everyone is right – you MUST go see this show!). But it was so cool to see the actual art quilt up close and personal, as I am in awe of her technique. Here are a couple of photos shamelessly borrowed from her blog (kathynida.com).

Here’s the quilt being dried after a washing (something about pet hair….) – our fabric is the pavement. Second one is a closeup. I so loved seeing an actual quilt of hers, because her process is so intricate, and seeing in person how it all came together is fabulous.

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Now, about the exhibit at the Mingei at Balboa Park in San Diego - one of my favorite museums – the emphasis is on “every day objects,” and this time the exhibit was two brothers, William and Steven Ladd, who work with beads, fabric and boxes in developing labor intensive, meticulous and abstract work that expresses their shared memories of family life in Missouri. )from the website) While some of the work I didn’t “get,” I was in awe of their use of unusual materials. This is from their website, explaining their “towers.”

Towers
A Tower is a stack of approximately 24 hand sewn boxes placed into a specific configuration.  Towers are often constructed of fabric, found materials, and board.  Each box in the stack measures approximately 9” square and can be closed or open.  When all of the boxes are open, they are  laid out into a specific grid-like configuration.  Textiles and found objects are meticulously sewn into the boxes and often resemble organic structures such as trees.  The Tower originated as a convenient way to stack and store boxes of the brothers meticulously constructed objects.
Each Tower has a story attached to it that is rooted in Steven and William’s shared memories.  Volcano, 2008, explores memories of extreme exercise while sharing a studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Explosive muscle building and marathon running evolved into forms that resemble volcanic structures.
Volcano, 2008
Archival board, fiber, beads, metal
Closed 13.25 x 19.875 x 18.875 in.
Open 39.75 x 19.875 x 8.5 in.
These are examples, and the top is a detail – needles, pins, metal ants, rolls tapes and biases….a feast for the eyes!
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Random Ramblings

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The temps have dropped and Northern Arizona is under storm warnings with snow possible. It’s windy here in Tucson, and it’s a thoughtful, kind of sleepy, kind of depressing Saturday. I still wonder about the lack of interest in things, like the business, that used to be a driving force.

I can’t really say it’s all because I feel like I am getting older and running out of time. There are still a lot of things I want to do. One of the biggies is traveling. An article on Facebook this morning made me realize that I need to start soon, before the body betrays me even  more. 25 top cities to see. I’ve been to Shanghai and Beijing, way before the massive high-rise development. There’s a real stark contrast between old and new in the two cities. New York City, but not in several decades, and the same for San Francisco several decades ago. Briefly Chicago for a conference, and then Europe – ah, Europe. I do want to get there.

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I am facing some medical tests in the next month, and I figure, since my energy level is so low, and all I want to do is sleep, that there is probably something more going on with the thyroid. But now we’re looking at boobs and intestines and ovaries, so I may be giving up a body part down the road.

Also a video from Facebook this morning on bullying. I’ve said for a number of years that part of the bullying epidemic – actually a majority of it – I think is due to the way adults act on reality TV shows, as well as on news programs. Adults are the grown-up bullies. And that leads to even less attempts at compromise, because we have become so used to shouting to get what we want – or resort to violence.

On the good front this morning, the fourth chakra that I just completed as part of the commission is GORGEOUS.

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Gotta go put a sweater on – temp is about 20 degrees cooler than yesterday!

Top Ten Tuesday

DSCN4597 Spring in the desert! In fact, it is almost summer – 91 today, and I think we will break down and put the air conditioner on for a bit this afternoon. Went through Saguaro National Park on Sunday tosee the cactus in bloom – always a treat this time of year. I still have lots in the bookmarks for cool stuff on line. So sit back and enjoy!

Hubby and I have always been a fan of Roy Orbison, and he especially of k.d. lang, so here’s the two combined.

I loved this next site, especially since we are planning to move back to Vermont in about a year. New England towns – they sure are gorgeous!

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I am not a tattoo person – never have been, but I certainly can recognize art when I see it – even if it is a little creepy……

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Swinging hits new heights (sorry, couldn’t resist), but an interesting take on cooperativeness.

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Subway art in Sweden – makes transportation into an art experience.

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Water sheets in space – - an experiment on the space station.

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Some untold stories of World War II:

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Seriously LOVE the Fibonacci numbers…..check this out!

 

Incredible pics of icebergs – they’re actually paintings….. Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 2.18.13 PM

And finally, the utmost in recycling – twist-tie toys!

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Interesting Research….

image  You are looking at the control room of the last Titan Missile site, south of Tucson, and obviouslynon-working. One of the things i have also been doing over the last few months is writing a novel, of which I have completed nearly 70,000 words. It’s been fun, a stretch, and involves a bit of interesting research. In thinking about how to end the book (futuristic, but I still want it believable), I decided to check out this museum for possible ideas.

What you are looking at on the left is our group in the main launch center of the site. Everything within the control room is designed so that no one person could actually launch a missile. It would require two keys, both placed far apart so that no one person could operate both at the same time…and all kinds of interesting trivia. This site has been preserved as a museum, and the curator is a former commander of the site. The movie before the tour talked about our foreign policy of prepared deterence, which I found ironic in the light of Bush junior’s policy of “with us or against us.”

Here are a couple of photo collages of other pics from that visit. Amazing construction for the day, and sites located in places I hadn’t even known about.

 

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 Lower left – escape hatch to the surface, and middle right is the fresh air vent to the interior. Both will potentially figure prominently in the novel. Lower right the steel doors protecting the control room, and middle left the LONG corridor to get to the actual missile.

Now I need to make a trip to the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico, plus a few other “border” areas. Now that the consulting work has eased up, I should be able to get two chapters a week done – 2/3 done and want to move along to finish so I can edit (which I seriously love!).

 

 

 

Remembrance – Every Year

Every year this time I am reminded during Holocaust Remembrance of the loss of millions of lives throughout history because of people’s hate. I’ve got previous posts you can check out about some lesser known facts and people about this time period, specifically the Holocaust of World War II. The mantra is “Never Forget,” but we are, slowly, as survivors pass on and others come into power with hate in their hearts.

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Other blog posts:

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Thursday Thoughts

Top Ten Tuesday

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

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It’s been nearly a year since blogging, business, and all things related to blogging suddenly lost their interest. Not really quite sure why, but I know I did miss the blogging. I guess it’s just one of those “life got in the way” kind of situations. But I have been doing things.

Recently I’ve been a math consultant, and I have learned a great deal. One, I’m not 50 anymore, and this back to part-time – although full-time days – has really taken its toll physically and mentally. Once again there was no time for any serious art. Even the commission I had been working on took a back seat, and I expect to get back to that in the next few days. In no way would I want to be a math teacher these days, regardless of the level. The amount of stress on teachers has grown to absurd proportions, what with mandatory state tests…and now field testing new tests – and of course spending an obscene amount of money in the process, because heaven forbid we should believe the teachers when they tell us how well students are doing. (Insert deep breath to end rant….) The major test/book publisher/supposed guru of all things education is really evil incarnate. Yes, Pearson, I’m talking about you. These guys have so much control over textbooks, types of testing for teachers, student testing, access to materials that it is ridiculous.

So, about my commission. Thread work on the seven chakras for my yoga instructor. I have three done, and they will become patterns. The ones I am doing are all 24 x 24 inches, and they will surround the walls of her yoga studio. Here’s a peek:

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First Chakra

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Second Chakra

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Third Chakra

Managed our first trip to the Botanical Gardens this year, and I focused in on texture. Then I used this great app for the iPad called Photogrid, and I made a few collages. Love the app!

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More coming as I get back in the swing of life!

Top Ten Tuesday

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Surprise! It’s me….I don’t know for how long, as I am sorting out a lot of personal things, but I do have a huge backlog of things I’ve found on the internet. Mostly I am trying to settle back into a retirement routine after three-plus intensive months as a math consultant. We’ll see how I manage to make my life work again! But now, here’s some great stuff.

Free art books from the Getty Museum – yes, you heard that right! Lots of eye candy here, and hours of enjoyment. Plus free lectures, free movies….lots of free stuff on the site.

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What if…nothing is impossible? Great inspirational video. If you want something bad enough, you can make it happen.

Street art from interesting objects, like legos and yarn, and nothing is photoshopped!

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Guys in kilts….does it get any better?

The absolute power of a photograph – iconic photos that tell moving stories.

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Fiber art and Game of Thrones….but of course……

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I want this log cabin….right now, somewhere green and quiet……

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Stills from I Love Lucy – several episodes are still some classic favorites.

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Cave homes in Australia -

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A retirement community in Germany recreated some famous movie scenes for a calendar – definitely worth a look!

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Enjoy your week!

Get Organized – Day 6

Maelstrom 6

Maelstrom 6

This is exactly how my brain feels today….more than overwhelmed, as I just started a new part-time job that is full-time for the first three months…….so it means wardrobe changes and a bunch of other things, and the usual work isn’t getting done….and I am surrounded by loose ends….which is how many of us feel a lot of the time.

I do have a solution I have used….it was going to be Day 6 in the series….it’s just that Day 6 took a while getting here….

Anyway, welcome to The Brain Dump.

My middle grade students would say I could bring any topic at all back to dinosaur poop and pee. But the Brain Dump is different, and it’s highly useful. I’ve been doing this at least once a month (sometimes more) for the last year, and it has really helped me organize myself. I find that as I start planning for this coming year, before I can do my backplanning (last post), I’ve had to do a serious brain dump and keep the paper close at hand for other loose ends that float to the top.

The idea of a brain dump is to sit with a blank sheet of paper and list everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – that you need to do, whether it is urgent or not. Don’t worry about order, don’t worry about whether things go together, don’t whether about if it’s several weeks away. JUST WRITE IT DOWN.

The advantage to this is to give your brain a break and a rest. Once you take everything that you are trying to keep straight in your brain OUT of it, you don’t have to worry about remembering it all. Now it’s down on paper, and you don’t have to keep thinking about that particular task, and the next one, and three more after that. It’s incredibly freeing and sets you up to be able to make sense of what needs to be done to accomplish goals.

Here are two examples of a couple of sheets I started with on January 1, as I plan out my month and my first quarter, as well as some longer-term objectives. I collected past sheets that still had items listed, and I started a new sheet with some of the newer items arising as a result of the new year.

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Nothing is in any order. There are things on here I still haven’t gotten to from the previous year. But that’s okay. My main goal is to free up my mind from worry. I want to have everything laid out so I can use these lists to organize.  I realized yesterday as I was working on one particular area, that I really couldn’t just go into the backplanning process without doing this. Now, keep in mind this might not work for you, but I urge you to try it and see if you can relax a bit about getting things done without forgetting them. I keep my page handy for about a week, so that if something new comes to mind – like renewing the trade name this year – I can easily add it to the list.

Keep in mind, though, that this isn’t a daily or weekly list….this is strictly a list of everything floating in your brain. You want to free up that space without having to worry about the detritus – important or not – floating there. What I end up doing is looking at the master list and choosing what’s critical for the coming week. Your  mileage may vary.

I would love for you to share your thoughts – and lists – if you try this activity. Any suggestions for improving the process?

 

 

 

Get Organized – Day 5

GC13 Sometimes life gets in the way……actually, a lot of times daily life intrudes on our best of intentions. It has happened to me in designing this series, and probably many of you right now are having life get in the way of your organization. I chose the picture on the left because life certainly got in the way of the creature fossils 1200 million years ago – and still today there is a remarkable work of beauty as you walk along the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Just go with it. Just. Go. With. It. It’s okay. Life happens along the way. When I was writing the backplanning blog, I sketched out the plan to complete my marbling book. Once I got hired for a new part-time job that is ten days a month, I realized I would have to change some of my plans. Again, It’s. Okay.

What’s happening with your planning and organizing is that you are becoming very aware  of what you would like to do and the time restraints on you. Most of the time we just make lists of what we want to get done, but we really don’t understand just what the actual time allotment is. So I want to introduce you to the 80-20 rule, as it can apply to organization.

I think most of us are familiar with 80-20. Think about the 80% of things that are really important to you. Then think about the 20% of things that are not so important…..and now think about how much time you spend…….do you spend 80% of your time on the things that are most important to you, that will move your business ahead, that will increase your creativity? Or…..do you get stuck doing a lot of the 20% things because you feel you should?

Stephen Covey (2004) said, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” The 80-20 rule can guide us in determining how to use the very limited and precious resources we have of time, energy, and money.

When you look at what you will do backplanning on, on what you will spend your time and effort on this year, think about the benefits…..will you be able to spend 80% of your time, energy, and money on the things that matter most to you. Backplanning for me on the marbling book is a place where I want to spend my time and energy. The book will be a potential source of passive income, once it is finished. I have decided to go with a different publishing platform, because I simply don’t have the time to learn a new coding system, even though the publisher is fabulous, and I don’t have the money to pay for them to code. So I will work (probably) with Create Space so the book is available on all epub platforms, and not just iBook – even though I know that platform now. This is a worthwhile priority for us, so I will spend the time. Taking an online class in science fiction will no longer be a priority beyond skimming through the basic notes and making a list of what I would like to read in the future. I do not want to give up my time to read several thousand pages in six weeks. Not worth my time – although it would be interesting – but it will have to wait till a later date.

Some links on the 80/20 Rule:

Pareto’s Principle

Why will this change your life?

The 80/20 Rule of Time Management

So what do you think? Thoughts? Insights? Share! I’m interested in how you are organizing yourself.

Get Organized – Day 4

DSCN4603  So did you dream yesterday? Want to hear from you, so let me know in the comments. I chose today’s picture for a reason. In the midst of cluttered minds and prickly daily events, every now and then we get a bloom of an idea and begin to run with it. Organization can seem overwhelming at times – we can even become obsessed with getting organized – kind of like falling into a cactus bush and then having to pull out all of the thorns – you just can’t stop till it’s completely done. (Ask me how I know this….).

Here’s my dreaming from yesterday – goals for the New Year of 2014, with no monetary limits in my dreaming.

trips to Kauaii, San Diego, Northwest, Yosemite; marbling ebook published; seasons patterns completed; chakra commission completed; at least three more commissions obtained; licensing work through The Artrepreneur; better blogging this year (at least 100 posts); complete saving most of the money needed for our move east in 18 months; better correspondent with friends; complete at least three Coursera classes; finish all the Craftsy classes I have downloaded; weight loss yet again (maybe 25 pounds for the year); learn about my new part-time job; at least two silk classes with the textile artist in Jerome; get good at my dyeing fabrics; work on rayon scarves with dyeing/marbling; monthly lunches with my second mom; Friday dinners with my sister/friend; attend Road 2 California (missed it last year); finish novel DC12 and start next volume, and hopefully get the first one published; celebrate 38 years of marriage with my honey.

Now I will keep adding to this list for the next month or so, so I can let a lot of these ideas just simmer in my brain. Simmering is good; put something away and let it ferment – it leads to all kinds of interesting other paths.

Now for the next step: THE CONCEPT OF BACKPLANNING

You did your dreaming….within all those dreams are goals for this coming year. Now comes the time to put planning to work. I’ve used this system for decades – literally. I’m sure someone came up with the idea before, but to my knowledge no one else calls it “backplanning.” Because…..you plan backwards. It seems counterintuitive to how we usually plan, but this method pretty much guarantees you will finish on time, without that last-minute unpleasantness crammed in to a few days. In fact….you could be early.

What I also like about this system is that by the time you are done, you have a plan in front of you that looks extremely practical, manageable, and something that doesn’t scare you before you even start.

One thing to keep in mind – your goals can be any length, from a week to a year.  I’ve used this method to plan getting ready for a trip in two weeks to presenting a middle school musical in 9 weeks, to my yearly goals. For the school musicals, I started with a 9-week calendar that was determined by opening night. Then I started backing up important dates, until I had actually scheduled auditions.

What I want you to do next is skim through this calendar, top to bottom, and bottom to top. There’s room built in for snow days and other things that might come up, plus keeping in mind the attention span of middle schoolers. And, I feel it’s do-able for me, the director.

Friday, May 2 – afternoon and evening shows, strike set, cast party

Thursday, May 1 – afternoon opening, evening show

Wednesday, April 30 – dress rehearsal

Tuesday, April 29 – tech rehearsal everything

Monday, April 28 – tech rehearsal, lights and set changes

Friday, April 25 – run through all acts, costumes and props

Thursday, April 24 – run through all acts, props

Wednesday, April 23, run through all acts

Tuesday, April 22 – Act 3

Monday, April 21 – Act 2

Friday, April 18 – Act 1

Thursday, April 17 – all musical numbers from all acts, concentrated

Wednesday, April 16 – Act 3

Tuesday, April 15 – Act 2

Monday, April 14 – Act 1

Friday, April 11 – Act 3

Thursday, April 10 – Acts 2 and 3

Wednesday, April 9 – Acts 1 and 2

Tuesday, April 8 – Act 3 finish blocking

Monday, April 7 – Act 3 blocking

Friday, April 6 – Act 3 blocking

Thursday, April 5 – Act 2

Wednesday, April 6 – Act 2 blocking

Tuesday, April 5 – Act 2 blocking

Monday, April 4 – Act 2 blocking

Friday, April 1 – Act 2 blocking

Thursday, March 31 – Act 2 blocking

Wednesday, March 30 – Act 1

Tuesday, March 29 – Act 1 blocking

Monday, March 28 – Act 1 blocking

Friday, March 25 – Act 1 blocking

Thursday, March 24 – Act 1 blocking

Wednesday, March 23 – Act 1 blocking

Tuesday, March 22 – Act 3 blocking musical numbers everyone

Monday, March 21 – Act 3 blocking musical numbers everyone

Friday, March 18 – Act 2 blocking musical numbers everyone

Thursday, March 18 – Act 2 blocking musical numbers everyone

Wednesday, March 17 – Act 1 blocking musical numbers everyone

Tuesday, March 16 – Act 1 blocking musical numbers everyone

Monday, March 15 – Act 3 music main roles

Friday, March 12  – Act 3 music main roles

Thursday, March 11 – Act 2 music main roles

Wednesday, March 10 – Act 2 music main roles

Tuesday, March 9 – Act 1 music main roles

Monday, March 8 – Act 1 music main roles

Friday, March 5 – read-through

Thursday, March 4 – read-through

Wednesday, March 3 – cast announced

Tuesday, March 2 – auditions singing

Monday, March 1 – auditions acting

Mid-February – order scripts, pay royalties

Yes, there’s more behind the scenes going on before we even begin, but those pieces don’t involve a cast of 80 children. I need a schedule I can work with, students can take home for parents, and teachers will know when classes are disrupted.

* * * * * * * * * *

Here I just want to introduce this idea of backplanning. I’m going to take one of my goals – the marbling e-book – and do the backplanning right here (it will motivate me, as well as make it seem like we can do this……) Note that I start with the day I want to actually publish, and then I work from there.

June 1: submit final copy for publishing

Last week in May: complete review, checking spelling, layouts, sizes of pictures, videos

3rd week in May: make any final changes to layout of the book

2nd week in May: resources section completed

1st week in May: any appendices added

Last week in April: stories from other marblers chapter completed

3rd week in April: write chapter 11, pics and video on the weekend, marbling

2nd week in April:write chapter 10, pics and video on the weekend, marbling

1st week in April: write chapter 9, pics and video on the weekend, marbling

Last week in March: write chapter 8, pics and video on the weekend, marbling

3rd week in March: write chapter 7, pics and video on the weekend, marbling

2nd week in March: edit second three chapters

1st week in March: write chapter 6, pics and video on the weekend, marbling; send requests to other marblers for stories/techniques to include in the book

Last week in February: write chapter 5, pics and video on the weekend, marbling

3rd week in February: write chapter 4, pics and video on the weekend, marbling

2nd week in February: (silk classes in Jerome); review/edit first three chapters

1st week in February: write chapter 3, pics and video on the weekend, marbling

Last week in January: write chapter 2, pics and video on the weekend, marbling

3rd week in January: write chapter 1 and introduction, pics and videos on the weekend, marbling

2nd week in January: hubby starts photographs; videos on the weekend, marbling

1st week in January: (right now) – plan photographs and video needed for each of the 11 chapters; determine publishing platform (I’ve already eliminated one because I don’t want to spend the time coding each page)

* * * * * * * * *

So – now I’ve done that,and I am basically at today. I’m not comfortable with the schedule, since I am starting a new part-time job. I don’t know which weeks I will be working full time, so I know now that more time needs to be built in to this backplanning. I am going to delay publishing until the end of June, and that gives me four weeks as a cushion for the writing, especially within the first month as I am learning the publishing program.

Now - REMEMBER – this isn’t set in stone! You’re in charge – if you need to adapt, feel free. I will  keep you posted as to how each month works in this schedule.

Your task – take one item from your list of dreams, and try this. If you want to travel, start with when you want to go and work backwards – scheduling the trip, packing, saving the money – you get the idea.

Please leave comments for us on your thoughts, if you have done something like this, other variations you use. Let’s build from each other!

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