Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bad Blogger!

I am having such a good and full time at Bullseye that I haven't had any time to sit and write about it! We are hurtling through a sampling of Bullseye's teaching curriculum this week with an aim towards learning their pedagogy and improving our own methodologies. I am so energized by it all that I am hardly sleeping. Of course part of the reason I am sleepless in Portland is because my body is so confused with all this jet-setting back forth from the east coast to the west that it doesn't know WHAT time zone it's in! But wherever it is, the body is eating well. Shown at right is the causa morada appetizer at Andina, an incredible Peruvian restaurant where Bullseye wined and dined us all last night. Tomorrow night is Thai food at Dan and Lani's house. Good thing I have pants with expandable waists.

But we are doing more than eating well. So far we have sampled boxcasting (our pieces shown in the kiln at left), platemaking basics, and painting with light (our instructor Eric Whittemore shown below sifting powder). We've made sample tiles to take back to our own studios that will form the basis for the sample sets we'll use to teach our own classes. I've also played with several techniques that I can't wait to experiment more with including the aforementioned boxcasting and painting with light and playing with vitrigraph stringer and candle-bent stringer.

This morning we heard about marketing for the teaching studio from Mary Kay Nitchie, and this afternoon we are running through the glass cutting class. Tonight I hope to meet up with Cynthia Morgan--assuming we all live through he 105 degree temps today!

Tomorrow we get to plan our own sample pieces to make and take home. Do we want to make tiles that show how different colors behave at different temperatures? Do we want to have tiles that illustrate the relationship between the viscosity and the thickness of the glass at fusing temp? Do we want a sample set of all the reactive colors? How about a fusing differential across temps (tack to full fuse) for various glasses? There are many, many options open to us, and I need to take a bit of time tonight to figure out which ones are the most attractive to me so I can add them to the voting pool for the group tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


A quickie teaser--I am off to another full day at Bullseye Glass, tonight I promise a post of the past days activities and an update on current studio happenings. Now must have a bagel (and maybe coffee ;-)!

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Dasani water in a bottle--just enough to get down a pain pill--the sound of the baby in the row behind me screaming intermittently for music. I'm in the air on the way to the Bullseye Instructor workshop in Portland, and so far the day has been a series of ups and downs.

Before I go any further though, I need to thank my spouse and the J for their above and beyond assistance in the studio today. As it is Saturday, I had no assistants scheduled, and when I determined at the last minute that I would need help today, neither of my regular assistants were available. So Dave stepped in and unloaded three kilns for me and helped me load three back up. Then he and J helped label and stack all the padded envelopes with the health company awards in them for Kay to deliver to Bill in Commerce tomorrow. At the same time she'll get metal from him for orders I need to ship early next week to Hawaii and other far flung locations, and she'll give him boxes of my work for the Buyer's Market that he and Elaine are going to drive up to Philly next week..


The flight is over. They didn't, as it turned out, have a bulkhead seat for me--or indeed any seat with no seat in front of it. Too bad, so sad. They ddi have me in an aisle seat, but on the side where the booted leg was on the inside, not the aisle-side... Before I sat down (I didn't even try to fit me, my bag and my big boot in THAT seat) they switched me to the aisle seat on the other side of the aisle, and I spent the flight dodging drink and snack carts and passengers heading for the forward lavatory (which was out of service in any case). I did arrive unscathed (though the same flight attendant would like to have nailed my leg any number of times).

I am now ensconced into my truly lovely big room at the Inn at Northrup Station (my bathroom is hot pink with a floor to ceiling mirror--I could have done without that particular view--and a walk-in shower). The rest of the room--actually, I don't think it's a "room". I think I have the Signature Suite!-- is in shades of green orange and purple (it all works) with a couch and sitting area, a desk, a kitchen and *two* flat-screen tvs! Best of all, it has free wireless so I type tucked up in bed, getting ready to drop to sleep like a stone. I'll be up at 5:00 or so tomorrow to write to Becky with instructions for the day and the shipments for the first of the week.

Now off to take another pain pill and go visit Morpheus. Tomorrow, ruminations on travel as a short person. Riding in a wheelchair gave me a whole new perspective on the vertically challenged and those dependent on others for mobility (shudder).

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday and the Doctor's Bill Cometh

No coffee, no tea, no nothing, grumble, grumble, grumble. It's not that the spouse wouldn't have made me something before he left to take the Sprout to camp, but I didn't think to ask. In case your response might be, "What? You got a broken leg? Get it yourself!", the answer would be, "Well yes, I do!". And I just got the hospital bill for the surgery last week on said broken leg. I read all the line items and just kept saying to Dave, this can't be right! His reply was that yes, it is right. I am being billed for me, for all the uninsured and for all the under-insured on Medicare.

I still think $290 for each screw in my leg is a bit extreme--even if they do have to be reviewed by the FDA! And why do I have to pay (at almost $600 a pop) for the three drill bits they used? Can't they reuse them? Don't they pro-rate? And, finally, please, $1,275 for the standard recovery room fee and then $474 per half hour thereafter (for an additional hour and a half) just to lie in a bed in a room with a bunch of other people (in their own beds) and a few nurses cycling between us?! I wouldn't have been there that long if they had STARTED with morphine instead of dilaudid! Good thing we have insurance. I can't wait to see what they pay. This bill is more than the 20% down payment on the house next door to the studio.

I would normally say at the beginning of this paragraph, "But let's get back to glass", but this IS back to glass. I am a small business owner. I could not afford to insure myself and my family on my own. Period. No question about it. I am fortunate to have a spouse who works for a slightly larger company with many more employees so that we only have to pay about $600 a month to be insured, i.e., to be able to break our legs and have them properly fixed as opposed to just hobbling around on crutches, letting them heal however they might, and dealing with the consequences--as many of my neighbors would have had to do. What if I had fallen in love with another artist instead of a computer geek? I go on record here and now to say, Go Obama. We elected a very smart, very decisive man to be in charge of health care reform. Let's stop the politics of fear (Oh Canada) and, well, *politics* and get on with it!

Yesterday I looked at my plane reservations for the trip to Portland, and I don't leave till 5:00 in the afternoon. I thought I left at 8:00 in the morning. I have a whole 'nother day! Good thing too, I didn't get yesterday's second big kiln load in even though I worked in the studio (with Becky) till 7:45. So tomorrow I can hang with my family, have brunch out, do a little shopping, get 1/2 of one leg waxed... what a great day!

This morning the missed kiln load from yesterday will go in, the last health care award piece (maybe I should charge THEM $5,000 an hour!) will be etched, the photos of the hotshop for my Instructor workshop presentation will be shot, and (moving out of the passive voice) I will have a little breathing room to organize what will happen in the studio while I'm gone. (Two assistants and a gaffer/carpenter will be busy little little mice)--and then there's the whole property-next-door thing...

Have a great weekend all

PS--Pics are of Gaffers Lee and Dominick running a test of the roll-up process with my glass. We're definitely onto something here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

No Guts No Gore Today

A bottle of purified water to drink, the sound of a happy spaniel disemboweling a squeaky toy for music. It is the home stretch of summer in the studio for me. When I return from all my voyaging, it will be the end of August, the beginning of school for the J, and so the beginning of fall (albeit still hot and humid) for me. I always find the end of summer bittersweet. I think of the times I didn't go swimming, we didn't go to the drive-in, we didn't eat out on the deck and watch the fireflies, all the various Didn'ts. I am not so much prey to the Mustn'ts, I am too often taken down by the Didn'ts.

But back to the home stretch of the week--the homestretch of the summer can take care of itself. Yesterday in my post I neglected to mention the heroic efforts of my spouse as Igor in the studio for me after all the other assistants had left. Becky had an appointment and absolutely, positively had to leave at 6:10. But I still had eight pieces to get in the kiln at 6:10, and I wasn't willing to risk my ankle by walking on it so I could carry them in myself. Just as I was about to despair and give up all hope of getting those pieces loaded, Dave walked in the back door and saved me. It's an allegory of my life. :-) He patiently and carefully carried all the pieces one at a time back to the kiln room and loaded them into Bertha.

Today is my last shot at getting the colors the way the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston wants them for the iris piece to accompany the Greene & Greene exhibit. Keep your fingers crossed! As soon as the latest batch is cool enough to come out of Bertha, I need to photograph them and send the photos to the buyer. Also down to the wire is the awards project. There are eight pieces left to etch--one of which needs to be fired one more time to fix a scratch before it's etched. *Sigh*. Nothing like getting the last one done on the day they must be done.

All the participants attending the Bullseye Instructor workshop have been asked to prepare a 5-7 slide, approx. 10 minute presentation about themselves, their studios, work and classes. I am looking around the studio this morning and it's a mess. Looks like there won't be any new photos taken before putting it together! Got to get with Lee today and get him to get the hotshop at least photographically presentable for tomorrow.

Now off to slay the wily kiln load!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Not For the Squeamish

Just finished the Egyptian licorice tea for the morning, the sound of airplanes overhead flying to exotic and mundane places for my music as I sit on the front porch while Renfield, I mean Kay, waters my plants and fills the pond for me before we head to the studio. Yesterday turned out to be such a busy day (but good!) that I never got a chance to post more than to slap up a quick status update and photo on Facebook. For all who missed it, here is the leg post-surgery (my first view of it) in all its stapled glory. The 15 staples were removed with the coolest little tool (when used to grab the staples on the top, it made them ping open and release my flesh) and now all I have between my leg and my boot is a little support sock and some steri-strips holding the six-inch incision closed. Prognosis is excellent--I have another week of no weight, then I go back to partial weight-bearing

Today we are back running full speed--and getting sidetracked by so many non-essential things!!


And (several hours after commencing this post) the day is over. Wild Blues were consumed with dinner (at least by me--Dave turns up his nose at such perversions), and the Sprout has been read a chapter of The Mousehunter and is now abed.

The day started normally enough, and then I was presented with an opportunity to acquire the property next door to the studio at a fire sale price... I was completely derailed for the rest of the day. It is as yet undetermined if we are going to pursue this opportunity. If we do, we have a rental property--or a lovely retail/office/guest teacher space. More as it develops.

I had a lovely studio visit from Gale Towns of the artglasspics group (of which I am another member) this afternoon. I should have offered him tea, coffee, water, whathaveyou, but my hospitality was a bit frayed by the extreme pace of the day. Nevertheless, we had a wonderful chat (he loves my book and was on his second copy before I gifted him with a third today :-) and I'm just sorry I wasn't less pressed and more relaxed for his visit.

I am now down to two work days before heading to Portland. In that time I need to do all the new pieces I am taking to the Buyer's Market--heck, I have to finish making a list of them prior to doing them still! I also need to finish the medical awards project (eight to etch tomorrow and then the labels for the packaging and the final invoice). Finally I have a large commission to wrap up and (finally, I hope) the rest of the pieces to create that are to accompany the Greene & Greene exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. My buyer there has asked for one more set of color revisions and the pieces for them will come out of the kiln tomorrow. She will review photos of them online, and if she approves, I need to complete all of that order by Friday... I'm making myself tired.

Okay, that;'s enough for tonight. Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wow, It's Late!

Champagne in the handblown flute, the quiet of an empty house as the spouse is on his way to pick up the sprout from a late playdate for music. It was my longest day in the studio post-surgery yet--and it was entirely pain and discomfort free. I am becoming accustomed to being handicapped and have developed a smooth set of work-arounds for daily actions and motions so as to avoid The Leg.

This is the count-down week to everything that precedes the Bullseye Instructor Workshop, the summer Buyer's Market Show, and a two-week vacation in the ancestral cabin on the shores of Flathead Lake in Montana. It's a race now, and to the fleet go the spoils. I, the gimp on crutches, am not so fleet, but I have big determination--and a whole village to support me.

Kay and Lee both participated in etching the first half of the awards for that project today. Licha called and offered some fine transparent red frit and though I said no, after I looked at what I have left in my 5-lb jar I may need to call back and beg for some. Tood gave an order to Christie to deliver for him and she brought me some *lovely* brie and fuji apples from the farmer's amrket when she dropped it off. Becky worked through an inventory of the metal and glass pieces I need to fill all my orders through the mid-end of August just to make sure I hadn't missed anything--I am in great shape--now I just need to fire all my pieces for the show! Finally, I checked in with the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and we still need to work through some color issues on the companion pieces we are doing for their Greene & Greene exhibit. Got to overnight another set of samples tomorrow and hope that I can get all the pieces fired (again) before I go.

On the plus side of all this work, I am looking at having over $20K in receivables that have shipped in the past month and a half. Yes, we are in a recession. No, some people don't seem to know that. As a gallery owner I work with in Florida reiterated to me today--the haves still have and aren't afraid to shop with it. The gap between the haves and the have nots is widening, and the have nots aren't even going to be able to manage the new small pieces for awhile.

The receivables mean (if everyone pays--knock wood), $20K coming in in the next month to cover my glass and metal bills, my assistants' salaries, and some new coldworking and hotworking equipment. Christmas is saved! Shoes for everyone! Or at least a bit whittled off the Visa bill.

Tomorrow sees more of the same in the studio--following my post-surgery doctor's appointment where I hope to see my incision for the first time and get back into my old (beloved) black boot. G'night all!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Surprise! A Sunday Post

Egyptian licorice tea in the Alaska skyline mug, the sound of water filling the bath upstairs for morning music. The leg has occupied far too many of my glass posts lately and it's time to get back on track. We're hurtling towards Friday--my official last day in the studio till the end of August--and there's still a lot to get done. I know, last week I crowed that I had all my orders completed through the end of August, but I kept mum on the fact that I haven't done any of my work yet for the Buyer's Market show... in two weeks.

So it's Sunday, and I have a very light day of work planned. First, the firing schedule. Bill and Elaine from Black Cat were here Friday night through last night and we laid out our (yet another) new display for the summer Buyer's Market. We have even more wall space than ever for this one, and for the first time all of my functional glassware and our small stand pieces will be hung on the walls. In order to minimize the effort necessary to hang all of it (especially since I won't even be there for set-up) we're going to try white plastic pegboard hanging panels over our foamcore with plate stands and shelves that hang on the pegboard. To get away from a garage look, we've minimized the amount of pegboard to just what's required to hold the plate stands and shelves.

We also left room in the booth for me to have either a chair and place to put up my leg, or a wheelchair. I'll have to see what they do to my dressing and leg brace system on Tuesday when I go back to the doctor. If they put me back int eh boot, I'll be fine with anything. If they leave me in this bandage-covered plastic splint thing 9that has no room for expansion when my leg swells) I may have to hunt down a wheelchair for the duration. just to have a built-in leg rest up high enough.

Most importantly, I, the control freak, have formally, officially, and (now) publicly promised to be happy with (or at least to live ungrumblingly with) however the display ends up, with whatever changes were deemed necessary on-site as I won't be there till the dust has settled and the first day of the show is over. I'm already loading up on the Xanax... (just kidding).

This morning Lee is scheduled to come over so we can etch the first of the awards. Friday late afternoon Becky and I put in the first of the color-adjustment loads (the red on most of the awards just wasn't saturated enough so have to add more color) and when I opened the kiln yesterday, two of the pieces had thermal-shocked in half on the way up so I have to make two more. this is bad news as Becky let me in on the news that there is only about 1/2 lb of 02 red frit and slightly more of the 01--not enough to do all the color adjustments, much less to make two new pieces. This is one of those times that I really, really, really wished I lived in Portland! Tomorrow I'd saunter down to the Bullseye Resource Center and buy a couple of 5-lb jars of red frit and get back to work. Instead, I'm going to have to use the as-yet-unnamed glass-crusher machine I got from Sarah and David in New Mexico. It's a small behemoth of a thing (really, I know what both those words mean and only by juxtaposing them can I convey the sense of hulk and even a bit of menace it has in its relatively small footprint). It reminds me a bit of something from Stephen King's "Night Shift". Let's try to avoid more blood, shall we?

Finally, got another nice order yesterday from a gallery that carries my work in Hawaii. They're opening a new location in a Grand Hyatt and are looking to place my work there too. I think I actually have everything they ordered in stock so I should be able to just send it out this week. Profit ahoy! Add to that two more commissions that are finally coming together, and it looks like I have a full week of firing--in my limited physical capacity.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Being Good (Napping Even)

Egyptian licorice tea in the Montreal skyline mug, the morning quiet of the house for music. I am pain free this morning! I was pain-free last night too. And contrary to popular belief, I AM taking it very easy. I worked a total of two hours in the studio yesterday over noon (with an assistant), and then I came home, was served lunch (on the couch) and took a nap (a long nap, also on the couch). The biggest problem I have had is swelling--the leg is tightly splinted and dressed and there isn't much room for it to expand, as the left leg especially is wont to do. Just have to keep it up on the couch or on the bed.


Several hours have passed, the day is almost over, and I finally took a pain pill. Kay drove me to Grainger today to pick up the sandblast abrasive so Lee can etch the awards this weekend. I received the stencils for etching the awards from Rayzist this morning (they sent them overnight), and the last awards are coming out of their fusing cycle this afternoon. Unfortunately, because I work with clear irid morceuax and colored frit, there are a lot of areas where the irid came to the surface of the blood-red glass and those pieces have to be fired again with a layer of fine frit over the the irid bits. Good thing I have allowed extra time in this process, but looks like we won't be etching this weekend. Wonder if Becky will come in again for an hour? Or maybe I can get Elaine or Bill to help me load the kilns... Or maybe Dave! Of course! My own Igor! His price isn't too steep.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

MUCH better today!

A glass of water and a half a bagel with peanut butter start my morning (the bagel is to better keep the Celebrex down, doncha know). Pain today is much better--though I did take one pain pill when I got down to the couch. Wow. There is a decided difference in the effect of pain meds when you have a lot of pain vs when you take them as you're supposed to (which is as the pain is building--before it gets to raging inferno). The pain is pretty much gone, but so is my leg, and, oh look, I think my head is missing too. This must be the "Do Not Operate Heavy Machinery" part of the morning--and here it's time to head to the studio!

Today is a studio and computer day--more computer than studio. I have the last load of the healthcare company awards to fuse, a random piece to slump, and four or five orders to ship. Well, I won't actually be doing anything much other than laying out the glass for the fuse load and entering the shipments into the UPS online system. The assistants will be carrying all the glass to the kilns, packing and putting out the boxes to ship, and generally performing all toting of barges and lifting of bales. Then I shall nap.

Thank you to Mom and Dad Griffith and to Keith and Mike for the lovely flowers. My parents are off kayaking and I haven't even been able to let them know I've had surgery yet.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Like the Caterpiller In My Leg?

Water in a Tupperware plastic 'glass', "Love Will Come To You" by the Indigo Girls on iTunes. This is going to be a short post as the otherwise ineffective pain meds keep my fingers from working right. Yesterday was a full and happy day--right up until I woke up from surgery. Becky worked in the studio from 8:30 to 12:45, I was there till 1:45, Kay was there from about 10:00 on (she headed to Commerce and met Bill to exchange work first at 6:30 am), V the bookkeeper stopped by get bills to mail and the deposit, and Lee brought the second load of refractory material he will need to build the kilns and the gloryhole. It was a busy, productive morning.

When Dave came to the studio to pick me up and take me in for surgery, I felt like I was headed off to vacation! Several hours later when I woke from surgery I was panting and crying from pain, and they were pumping as much dilaudid into my IV as fast as they could. Getting into bed once we got home was managed in stages. First there was getting up the front porch steps (backwards on my tush). Then I scooted backwards into the house and took a left into the office where I sprawled on my back on the big round rug (the site of the original injury) for another 15-20 minutes. Finally I had enough together to scoot myself backwards down the hall, across the livingroom and up onto the couch for a couple more comatose hours. Finally about 10:30 I had enough equilibrium to crutch my way upstairs and to bed.

And there I remain. D just brought me lunch, and now it's time for a nap. More tomorrow!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Under the Knife

Just drank a second glass of milk, the hum of the air conditioner and the sounds of J finishing up her dinner for music. I need to take a pain pill--the ligament or tendon or whatevermathingie on the inside ankle bone of my broken ankle (the opposite side from the break) is really hurting. But I have another couple of hours of work to do tonight and I don't want to be impaired. What to do, what to do? I think I'll opt for the milder pain pill and hurry up the work.

Tomorrow at 3:30 pm I go under the knife. Surgery pre-op starts at 1:30, and they expect me to be wopken up and ready to go home by 7:30. I'm sure I'll be going home to sleep. That'll be kind of weird after virtually sleeping all afternoon and evening already. Maybe I can con D into watching a movie with me... or I'll just sleep.

Today I got one kiln load in, the assistants tasked for the next couple of weeks with broad brush strokes of tasks building to sweeping studio storage, organizational and operational changes. Also met with Lee (the gaffer) and purchased the materials for him to build the annealing kilns, the pick-up kiln and the glory hole. The hotshop will continue to become a reality even as I recuperate. Finally, I put together the last details for the health company awards I need to fuse and etch this week (mostly fuse tomorrow, and Lee will do the actual etching at the blast cabinet for me this weekend). Before I lay me down to sleep I need to touch bases with Morganica about staying with her in Portland the week after next, and I need to get the rest of my BMAC display materials ordered and sent off to Black Cat so Bill can put together our preliminary set-up (again while I recuperate).

I am not looking forward to the surgery, but in a perverse way I actually AM looking forward to staying in bed on Wednesday and reading, sleeping, playing a board game or two, watching a movie, just relaxing. I can't think of the last time I stayed in bed all day... Oh wait, yes I can. It was right after Thanksgiving when J and I got that horrible virus and were sick as dogs. I spent my one day in bed not being too happy to be alive. I expect Wednesday will be MUCH more enjoyable--pain or no!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday Funday!

No thing to drink, no sound in the house but the tapping of the keyboard, the ticking of the clock, and the light whir of the ceiling fan. It's Sunday, but the studio is in full production mode as I prepare for surgery Tuesday. Becky came in for a full day of work yesterday and we got in three kiln loads--two fuses and a slump. The fuse kilns were Bertha and Bettina so I fused 18 sq ft of glass yesterday.

Today we have a fire polish and a slump scheduled (Becky will be back). But before heading to the studio to work on them, I am putting in a full digital morning doing the occupation formerly known as paperwork. I need to finish all my prep for the Buyer's Market show (I just looked at the calendar and realized the show is less than three weeks away...) including putting in my Hargrove order--for one I'm not waiting till the last day. I also need to get all the paperwork ready for Becky for the orders that will ship over the next month--orders that will all be fired by Tuesday... Yep, I'm that far ahead with production.

Last night's sleep was, thankfully, NOT plagued with nightmares about death and the roads not taken as the night before's was. Presurgery fears anyone? Ever since the accident I have had weird, vivid, mostly horrible, twisted, often violent dreams in dark colors almost every night--and that's without taking any pain medication. Not that my dreams are usually all sunshine and light, but they have been especially grim and morbid over the past ten days.

Okay, enough chatter. To work! To plan! To organize!

Friday, July 10, 2009


Nothing to drink, the sound of panting dog and happily playing girls (J is have a friend spend the night) for my music. In five minutes I am heading to the airport to get my spouse! Three weeks of spouse! He wasn't supposed to be home for so long, but I am having surgery on my ankle on Tuesday (outpatient and I plan to be back to work Thursday--I'm taking Wednesday off :-) and then I am non-weight-bearing on that leg for at least two weeks. I still plan to go to Portland for the Bullseye Instructor workshop. I still plan to go from there to the Buyer's Market in Philadelphia (I am sharing a room with Dee and she is asking for a handicapped accessible room). I still plan to fly to Montana for two weeks the day after I get back from Philadelphia. Now, however, I am adding a doctor visit in on the day I get back from Philly.

Yes, it's a bit like shaking my fist in the face of fate, but if I don't think positively and optimistically about my prospects, all that is left is to cower in fear of the Mustn'ts (or climb in bed, assume the prenatal position and turn the electric blanket--assuming I had one--up to nine). I am not so pollyanna that I don't have contingencies in place for less-than-optimal outcomes (I plan to have all my current orders done before going in for surgery except for the big medical awards job, for example) but I remain hopeful that all I have is a glitch in my hitch (or whatever that expression is). I close with my first favorite poem that I just last week shared with the J. Thank you Shel Silverstein.

Listen to the MUSTN'TS, child,
Listen to the DON'TS
Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES.
Then listen close to me -
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Night Winds Down, and So Do My Eyelids

Nothing to drink, the sound of the dishwasher for my late-night music. I am tired down to my bones--but not as exhausted as I was the last time I posted. For those sending me concerned emails, I have not been posting because everything takes so d*mn long to do on crutches that I have to work twice as long to do half as much--just keep up with what I have urgently due!

Tomorrow is the follow-up doctor's appointment for my ankle. Keep your fingers crossed that they are going to look at my ankle and say, "It's a miracle! You're well!" or even just, "It's healing, it'll take another several weeks of staying off of it and being good, and you probably won't have to have a plate and screws put in."

Today I got the news that we (Siyeh Studio and Black Cat ArtWorks) have been selected to create the sales awards this year for a pharmaceutical company's annual event. It's a good project--and nice to see a company springing for art glass and metal instead of another etched chunk of crystal. The downside for me is that I have 60 more pieces to do (and sandblast--you can't get away from etching them, after all) in the next two weeks. This job is on top of preparing a new display set-up for the summer Buyer's Market, ordering all the components for it, fusing the extra pieces for it, finishing the custom pieces for the Museum of Fine Arts Boston that were created to be offered in conjunction with the Greene & Greene exhibit that opens there next week, and completing a solid number of regular orders. Did I mention staying off the ankle and scaling back a bit?

Don't get me wrong, I am THRILLED to have all the work, I'm just... tired. And now I'm off to bed to rest more fully. News from the orthopedist's office tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A Day of Battles

The sounds of one of "The Magic Treehouse" books on J's iPod, the toilet flushing, and the shower coming on from upstairs for my background music. I finished the last of my pinot noir before beginning this post. It was a hard day for me--the hardest in mid-recent memory. I'm almost tempted to run through the blog archives to see what days have been worse, but I'll forbear.

Yesterday afternoon I became concerned that my ankle was moving around too much in the boot thingy (mostly at night while I slept), and I called the orthopedist's office where I was treated last week so I could speak to the PA (Physician's Assistant)--the person who actually treated me for my injury to ask him some questions. I was told he no longer works there... Full of a lack of confidence for this particular physician's practice, I spent over an hour this morning trying to get an appointment with an orthopedist in Atlanta. I would have liked to see someone who specialized in treatment of fractures, ankles, sports injuries even, but I was not picky. Was I able to get an appointment with even one doctor out of the many practices I called? Not likely. The earliest I could be seen would be late Friday--and most of them were closer to the 17th of July. Well if I am already concerned that I am irreparably damaging my ankle with the thing-a-ma-jiggie I have on it and the course of action prescribed by the PA, Friday is probably going to be a little too late to do anything to avoid surgery.

Fortunately I have my friend Dr. Bill--whom I trust more than any other medical professional I know anyway--who calmed me down this morning, and supported completely my treatment so far. No, I shouldn't be in a cast because my foot and ankle swell a lot and I could develop compartment syndrome. Yes, the foot sloshes around in the boot. It is normal and I am healing. Healing is going to take time--maybe three months. It's going to hurt, sometimes a lot. I may need surgery at the end of it. Put on my big girl panties and deal with it. I felt MUCH better after chatting with him.

Then there were sandblast etching travails (why did I commit to doing these awards again?), fusing issues from yesterday's loads, and a host of other petty things that just made my exhausted body Want to curl up and cry. Come to think of it, I did do that a bit this morning before I slapped myself out of it. Everything takes at least twice as long as it should, and even after cutting my commitments and schedule in half, I am still pressed, rushed, behind and tired beyond belief at the end of each day (well, all two of them so far).

The evening ended well as Stacy (the friend and former wunder assistant) brought us dinner, served it, opened the wine, listened to my whine--and then cleaned up the kitchen for me! I have SUCH good friends! Christie dropped off a load of garden stakes from Todd this afternoon so I can have Becky pack them up to ship them tomorrow, and on the way over to the studio she grocery shopped for me so I didn't have to get OJ and grape jelly for the J. Dee even made a trek back down today from her studio with more stencils because the ones from yesterday didn't stick right. At this rate, it doesn't take a village, it takes a country!

Now I'm going to hie myself off to bed (by 9:30), take a pain pill, read a chapter of The Mousehunter to my daughter, and fall asleep with her as we listen to another of the Magic Treehouse books on her iPod. Everything else will just have to wait.

Monday, July 06, 2009

It's All About the Journey... Really

Nothing to drink--though I was tempted by a glass of wine, the sound of crickets and few stray leftover neighborhood fireworks for music. It was a day. I tried very hard to Be Good and Kind To My Ankle. Last night I made up my firing schedule for the week, and today I cut it in half--and it was still a very tough day.

But I am truly blessed with wonderful friends (it takes a village). Becky the Wunder assistant and Dee both came and helped me get the kiln loads in late this afternoon and Dee stayed to help set up the sandblasting equipment in the early evening. It was too hot and humid outside to test it out tonight (and far too late after far too long a day)--and besides that I have to run to Home Depot in the morning for a hose adapter to connect Dee's compressor (kindly on permanent loan to the studio) to the blasting pot. Tomorrow is another day.

Mel took J after camp for a playdate and dinner with her daughter Kyla. When she brought J home, she also brought me a dinner of spaghetti and fresh-baked bread. Tomorrow Stacy is making us dinner. At this rate I won't even have to call Zifty (thanks for the tip, Mindy!).

Tonight, after a big glass of water and a pain pill, I relax and remember the wondrous week I spent in Linda Ethier's studio in Portland being initiated into the mysteries of lost wax, mold-making and kilncasting of glass. Ahh, those were the good old days. The pre-broken-leg days...

There were six of us in the class all with diverse backgrounds, interests and tastes. We spent an intense five days bonding over Liberty wax and plaster silica--oh, and glass too. And let's not forget Cuban lunches at Pambiche across the street from the studio, or the rich exotic chocolates at Alma around the corner and down a couple of blocks... It was a week of dorm living, bus riding, perfect weather, and a slice-out-of-time.

Taking a workshop like this is, at its best, a peek into the mind of a master. I could spend months with Linda Ethier and--as open and sharing as she is--I would still only be able to learn a fraction of what she knows about glass casting, mold-making and lost wax. And even with as much as I still don't know and have to learn, at the end of my week I have a piece of which I am already incredibly proud. In addition, I have the beginnings of the knowledge I need to continue my exploration of the technique, and I have my map and compass from my week with Linda to guide me in.

Too often you can end up in a class where the instructor is very enthused and energetic about the subject material, but his or her knowledge of it is not much deeper than your own. In those instances the experience is still enjoyable, but it feels almost more like an adventure together to see what lies around the next bend, rather than a journey with a master who knows every rock, creek, and wily raven along the way.

I didn't take this workshop with the goal of incorporating a new technique into my production work. I love and respect Linda's work, and Ellen Abbott's, and Delores Taylor's, and Leslie Rowe-Israelson and Melanie Rowe's (Twin Vision Glass), but this is not something I think I could feed my family on. No, I am eagerly looking forward to making more cast pieces (I am particularly interested in casting objects from nature--flowers, shells, bones, what-have-you), and these pieces will be for me. They will be all about the journey--not the destination--and it won't matter if I spend an hour fussing with a leave to get the curl just right. There won't be anyone to care how long it takes but me.

Soon I hope to get all the pictures I took from the week up on the web, but for now I present my partners in crime, and snippets of our week. I am trying to lure Linda out to Atlanta to teach a workshop in the spring. Keep your fingers crossed.

Moving Sheets of Glass With a Broken Leg

Pull one sheet of glass out of the crate. Reach as far towards the cutting table as you can and set the sheet of glass against the wall there. Pick up another sheet and repeat the action until you have sufficient glass in the stack (about 5 sheets). Crutch towards the table past the stack of glass until you can just reach the stack of glass behind you. Pick up one sheet of glass and move it as far towards the table as you can reach and set it against the wall there. Repeat all actions until you have moved the entire stack of glass four or five times and it's next to the cutting table...

I need a nap. Lucky for me Becky got here before I had to do the whole thing over again!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Hello From the Apple Store!

Nothing to drink, the chatter of Apple buyers for music. I am so glad it's Saturday, I cannot tell you! It is (by my reckoning) the last day of the week, and, thus, with a new week I have an expectation of New Luck. Tomorrow (the beginning of a happy new week) I shall post a happy post (finally) about my incredibly lovely experience in Linda Ethier's Lost Wax class--complete with photos. But today, today I shall indulge myself in one last ranting bout of piteous whine. Topics? Department stores (and other corporately mired clients), and breakage (yes, the Apple Store at the Mall of Georgia ties into the breakage part of the story...).

I was very excited after doing the Dallas Finds show in January that I picked up a department store for a customer. It was a bit daunting (well, more than a bit) to go through their vendor requirement hoops, but I did with an eye to a bright and profitable joint future. The first thing I had to do was to research, acquire, and incorporate into my packing and shipping procedures real UPC codes (not just any barcodes, but real registered individually purchased codes--one for each piece of a different style or color). It was time-consuming, but not too expensive, and I stepped up to the plate.

Another "requirement" for doing business with this customer was that I use an electronic document interface (EDI) system to receive PO's, send advance shipping notifications, send invoices, and receive electronic deposits for payments. The EDI system is a technological dinosaur. It is large, slow, has very big teeth, and is expensive to feed. I balked, and I was lucky: Because they were used to dealing with other dinosaurs (sloooow moving) I was given 90 days to implement the EDI system so I had a little time to evaluate them as a client and to see if the volume of work they were going to order would merit the volume of work they were going to require.

The initial order was nice, but not handstand worthy. A subsequent order (really, the addition of another store to stock the same basic pieces as the other three stores) was nice, but I still wasn't overwhelmed. Part of my reticence in dealing with them came about because it was the Vice President of Home Furnishings and the Director of the Tabletop division who were so excited about carrying my work, but the sales rep assigned to take the order from me, interact with me, and send me ongoing orders was less-than-enthusiastic about it. Call me spoiled, but I like working with people who like my work and see the value in it. He eyed it dubiously and yawned. I bristled.

(Please forgive the length and ramble of the post, I have a lot built up and also took a painkiller for my leg so I'm a bit woozy.) Okay, I ship the first order out. It is comprised of 33 pieces split up between two PO's for three stores--one PO for one store through one distribution center and the other PO for two stores through another distribution center. Each of the three stores got 11 pieces in identical sets of three boxes each--same size, same weight, etc. Each store was sent two 12" bowls, two long rectangular platters, two 10" square plates, and two 8" square plates. So far so good, right? Oh heck no!

Payment came for the invoice on the PO for the two stores. They claimed that the shipment was short one bowl, one long rectangular platter, one 10" square plate, and one 8" square plate and, thus, their payment in commensurately short. I look into it and discover that I had inadvertently not put one of the tracking numbers for the shipment on the invoice. I apologized, and sent the correct documentation. I also point out that the two bowls, two rectangular platters, and four square plates were all shipped in the same box for each store so it was physically impossible for an odd number of pieces to be missing--they were either short 0 or 2--they couldn't be short one of each.

A month later I get a form letter telling me they looked into my dispute of the chargeback and, they're sorry, I'm still wrong, the shipment was short, they're not going to pay me. I call. I explain verbally. I fax my documentation again and provide further backup for my assertion that each store got the exact same pieces by showing them the documented weights of each of the three boxes for each of the three stores (nine boxes total in sets of three with identical sizes and weights ERGO identical contents!). It was NOT POSSIBLE for them to be short 50% of the contents of one box and have the box come out weighing the same as the other two boxes in the shipment with identical contents.

Another two weeks pass and today I got another form letter telling me they're sorry, I'm still wrong, they're still not paying. I'm done. I will not be implementing the EDI system. I will not be accepting anymore PO's from them. I WILL be writing to the VP, the Director AND my buyer and letting me know how disappointing my experience with them was.

Now about the Apple Store. On this blog recently there has been much expression of the sentiment that I need to Slow Down. Maybe the universe enforcing that edict through the sleeping deerhound whom I tripped over and broke my leg earlier in the week. If that is the case, the universe is still talking to the deerhound because today when she was heading outside for her morning ablutions she caught her leg in my laptop's power cord and pulled the laptop off the coffee table onto the floor with a thud. It died with a whimper--the battery was dead and the power cord connection (that I had replaced a couple of months ago) broke (again) so the laptop wouldn't boot up anymore (again). Something in the display was also broken and the screen is very dim. Clearly the universe thought I just wasn't working to capacity with my current laptop.

So now I sit at the Apple Store in the Mall of Georgia cloning my old laptop onto new laptop with the help of a borrowed battery. There are three minutes (approx) left in the exchange process (of an hour and a half) and their battery is showing almost dead (redlining). My fingers are crossed that I get everything across!!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

A Quick Follow-Up on the Numb Toes

I spoke with the physician's assistant who saw me yesterday (I never actually saw a doctor at either urgent care or the orthopedist's office) and it looks like I just had my boot on too tight and had some inflammation issues. The toes have been fine all day today--no real numbness or tingling--and I have had no sharp pains or tightness which might indicate a blood clot. I am having pain in my other leg, but that seems to be from muscle fatigue from the right leg having to carry all the weight. In any case, I am being vigilant and pretty much staying off the leg...

Thanks for all the Facebook and Blogger concern and wishes everyone!

Naked Spaniel and Broken Leg

Nothing to drink, nothing to listen to. I must have died. No, wait, I only feel like I'm in purgatory because I have a BROKEN LEG! The first night in the boot was not pleasant. The leg didn't hurt, but the middle toes kept waking me up with their absence and I would have to dangle my foot off the bed for awhile to get the blood flowing again--at least that was my groggy painkiller-filled, half-awake analysis of the situation.

I am already in the studio this morning--more to get out of the house (cleaning people) and to turn on the air conditioning for the day than to do any substantive work. All the orders I can push back, I have. I do have two hard deadlines that I will meet (the custom tabletop pieces created to go with the Green and Green exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the award pieces for a health organization's yearly recognition program). I am firing the initial pieces today with help from Becky. I can perch on a stool and cut and layout the pieces then she'll carry them to the kiln. That's the theory anyway,

A few days ago I promised pictures of the shaved spaniel. While I was in Portland, Dave took both dogs to the groomer's (a place they had not seen in MONTHS). Baxter the spaniel was so matted that all they could do was shave him. Seraph fared somewhat better, but she would rather I didn't post her picture here. So without further ado I give you Baxter The Wunder Spaniel! Then I'm off to putter some more in my woozy. I have never had painkillers for breakfast before. they're... odd.

A last testy note: I am fully aware that the most important thing I have to do over the next ten days is avoid surgery. If I don't stay off my leg, I run the serious risk of having to have a plate and screws put into my ankle--ruining my carefree passage through airport security checkpoints forever and being a major pain in the a--nkle. I will be good!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Good Thing My Plate Isn't Full!

Waiting for the Sprout to bring me some water to drink, listening to the ticking of the clock. No post yesterday, the day just got away from me. I still haven't fired any new fuse loads since my return on Saturday--though I did get two repair loads in yesterday. I had big plans for today, but as soon as J brings me my toothpaste from upstairs and a cup of water, I am going to finish my ablutions and head to Urgent Care. Why? Well you might ask! Last night at 11:00 I finally got around to uploading credit cards charges over the phone. In the middle of the entry process I got the low battery beep. I was trying to keep entering numbers while walking down the dark hall to the dark empty office to switch phones. I thought the office floor was clear so I boldly strode across it in the dark, and promptly tripped over the deerhound. She was disgruntled, but I think unhurt (she didn't yelp anyway).

The phone was also ok and so was my call, but my ankle was painful and swelling so I called my spouse in Austin. Between the two of us, we figured it was just wrenched. He thought I should call his mother (a nurse), or my mother (a pharmacist), or Bill (a doctor) as the family's health care professionals. I pooh-poohed the notion, iced it, took a pain reliever left over from my oral surgery four years ago (or was it five?) and went to bed. This morning walking was painful--it took a half hour just to get the garbage and recycling to the curb for the house and the studio)--so I looked up the closest Urgent Care on Google, and off I go!


Back from Urgent Care, I do indeed have a high pain threshold. I broke the fibula cleanly (as you can see from the x-ray. I also broke it in another spot (visible from the top on the other x-ray). Joy. Two kiln loads to get in today. Looks like I'm going to need to call in the cavalry to help with firings for the next week or so...