Monday, June 22, 2009

Weekend of passion & colour: Soap, Stoneware, Jewelry, Postcards

It seems that when disabled, and in pain (a LOT of pain) then the pleasure is found in the small spaces: actions between the uncertainty. I was woken by the sound of three trucks and two to three jackhammers today as the “three day” demolition job (according to the project manager) goes into its third week. So better to think on the nicer things that happened this weekend, amongst and around the unpleasant.

On Saturday it was overcast. Overcast means I can go outside! So Linda said that if I could make it out of bed we could go to the James Bay Market (instead of the Moss Street one – our city is blessed with Markets). By “make it out of bed” she meant, if I could move my limbs, as I could not the night before, and I think even Cheryl was having to help me move my head. But as a friend with Lupus told me, “the more you move, the more the pain starts to go into the background…” (the rest of that is, “….and after about four hours of moving slow, then a bit more, you are ready to go.”). I had to be ready to go in 30-40 minutes, and made it out the door with some help from my friends.

I was wearing sweats and had no money with me, and Linda soon ran out of money so it was more of a ‘lets see what is possible’ event than a spending spree (though if there is something you are love with, please speak up as we will definitely be going back). The first thing I saw were the skull pot warmers. I mean, what says goth but using skull warmers to take out the Tuna Casserole. But then I started to think, “how will guests feel about my Borsch as it sits on the skull and crossbones, universal sign of danger and death?”

I rolled on, over grass (it was held on a field) to Mystic Glass Creations. Tyler, the owner and crafter, blows his own glass, though some of the images are etched with laser and then the glass blown around them. Most items were in the $15-20 range, like this necklace which changes colour as the light reflects off of it from different angles. I liked that one. We have at least one reader who is into mushrooms and they were a steal at I think $10 for your own personalized mushroom necklace – what perfect accessory for your next meeting (confuse them to bits!).
Tyler also does scenes of West Coast Tide Pools, which were made entirely of blown glass. They are complete with anemone, starfish, sea cucumber and the rest. He creates them by blowing glass and then shaping it down into a disc shape before doing something called ‘imploding’ which sounds pretty neat and is what brings all the colour up into the shapes. Everything in these tide pools is made out of glass. Cheryl and I thought this one would be perfect for Linda. She REALLY likes the tide pools necklaces but the one with orange she wouldn’t wear and the one with the blue and purple I thought was perfect for her. But she said she probably wouldn’t wear it. Well, today she tells people at the office and they think it is really NEAT, so where is it? So now she is thinking that if she DID get it, she would wear it. However, like I said, if I like something it is expensive, while the rest is $15, the tide pools are $60 due to the extensive labor in glass blowing.

From there I went a few stalls over to Katy Adams at Living Earth Pottery. She makes stoneware and other pottery and much of the red pottery is again in the $15-20 range. This bowl is one of the few blue ones she has left. It is microwave and dishwasher safe and hardy due to being stoneware but also barely a few ounces, certainly not a pound. Both Cheryl and I, used to the weight of pottery were impressed by the light weight. The bowl, was of course, $35 (if I like it, just double the prices you see on other items and that is what the item I want will cost). The problem was it was too big for me to use as a bowl, just a little too large, as the liquid inside is too much for me to control or hold, even on my lap. Then I saw THE PLATE. I loved the plate, it was a beautiful dark blue with black etching. The black comes from wax which is used to decorate the plate after the stone ware is ‘thrown’ on the wheel and put on the batik overlay, then in the kiln, during the glazing process, the wax melts, leaving a shadow of itself behind, the black decoration. Of course, I like THIS so as you can see, it is $55. Sigh. Oh well. She does do commissions but told me she is booked up until July 2010. Did I want to put myself down for a color and a commission? Sorry, not quite that optimistic, not when the hospital results say I’m medically malnourished.

Linda was returning from Whimsical Preserves with her jar of Peach Nectarine for the morning toast. Each jar was $5 and .25 if you return the jar. I was impressed with her delightful diabetes safe jam, which was not just ONE, in raspberry as you see in this picture but was a total of three rows, of which only two rows are in the pictures. I was also impressed simply by the experimentation and delightful colors and ideas, like this Fire and Ice wine Jelly, I mean where else does one go to get your ice wine (second ingredient) in your jelly?

There was another passionate soap lady name Shelia Adams, who sold not only the regular array of multicolored soaps you can see behind me, but also soaps specifically for men for shaving. Not your average soap, which came in Sandalwood. I asked if it was real Sandalwood, as I have heard that is very expensive and she said no it is a synthetic compound (the regular soaps were $4 each, the Sandalwood lathering soap was $10 – or about 6 pounds). The soap is specifically made to reduce the drag on the razor by using Fullers Earth Clay and then Shea butter and Goats Milk to reduce any irritation.

I loved the swirls in her soap, particularly the ones in Olive Oil, though I couldn’t stop thinking of Popeye. The woman was very dedicated and had bits of soap for people to rub for the smell. For example in her Slice of Citrus, she not only had orange, grapefruit and lemon grass but would take the peels, and shred them up and then add them as zests for exfoliate.

Linda picked up her favorite, Lavender. When we went up island, a gift of Lavender Massage oil was spilled (onto her clothes) though it was sealed but enough was left for us to give each other Lavender Massages (I recommend it, particularly IN a two person hot tub with jets). So she picked up a bar at $4 to keep the memory and go to work smelling Lavender fresh.

Of course, what west coast market is complete without the tie-dyed clothes. There used to be a woman selling lots of tie-dyed clothes at Moss Street Market but she moved to Australia (long commute). Another woman was selling here. I liked these baby clothes in tie-dye. I had bought several things as gives for my unseen nieces and nephews when Linda went to visit last time, like hats or a tie-dyed purse for the 7-8 year old girl (she loved it). The children of the conservative father, I sent only tie-dyed sun hat for the little girl and socks for the boy. Apparently they were NOT used, possibly because he did not want to expose his 2 year old and 4 year old to this kind of drug culture clothing. Errrrr……what?

By this time I had talked myself blue. It is funny how these expressions must have come from people with my conditions because I CAN talk myself until my lips and fingertips turn blue. So it was back into the van and air conditioning and then back home.

I took an hour at home to take pictures from the art books which I had marked with post-it notes for pictures. The weekend is the only time I have enough people to help me hold open the book and take the pictures for the blogs of the coming weeks and months.

Regarding postcards and Stickers, FINALLY, this last week I had sorted out the corner behind me thanks to Linda. She gave me a three drawer plastic cabinet and I gave two drawers for stickers, one for kids and one for adults and then sorting within those drawers, and one for postcard books.

What I wanted from this time on was for me to spend more time on each person, which meant more time on each postcard. Time spent in selection and time spent stickering (which has been neglected lately) and deliberate stamping. I wanted to improve. But I didn't want to make the postcards more flashy or crammed with more on them, indeed I wanted more open space to write. But I wanted to refine what was on them in order to make them better, closer to greatness. So that is what we did. It took longer to sticker and the table was full, first of all the children’s stickers and the adults. After that, we went into stamping, having a good idea of the theme in mind.

To give you an example, in the top postcard I made a linear link of colour stampings of the history of the cat starting with Semet, the Egyptian cat god (in purple). Then a stamp of the wild cats before the stickers of the domestic cats (I didn’t quite have enough room for a color rubber stamp of that). The one below it combines the colors of the kimono with the flower sticker and the sticker which is one of the ancient family crests of Japan, which is reflected in the colours of the Japanese Fan color stamp. It took longer to do, it took overnight to dry.

Function and pain-wise, I was having a bad weekend and at points could not use my hands, or, due to pain, was not understanding what was going on, or even where I was, only the pain. So, when lucid, I estimated the maximum number of postcards we could do was 35 based on the time left and how much time I had to write the postcards, which I placed at six to ten I could write an hour if there were no breaks, four to four and a half hours straight. It turned out that I had miscounted and 37 postcards were done and have already been posted a couple days ago.

Though I have many postcards (like several hundred) I am in desperate need of great quality postcards. The problem is that, as we say, 'we get them in, and then we send them out.' So if someone has a very specific request or style, then the regular postcard isn’t going to do (many, many requests for postcards of the moon). I can’t send diners, or just any old scenery, or even any old cat photo, I have to send postcards that are ‘more.’ Some come from Oxford. But they are going (any postcards of illuminated manuscripts would be greatly appreciated - seriously, along with clear, large and colorful ones of the animals specific to your area of the world – something that would appeal to cognative disability programs or children, particularly those in the autism spectrum). I am hoping you understand? I can't do this alone, and I want to give EVERY person the best.

To give you an example, I bought a set of 12 Lamento Postcards online, and sent them out, catboys in anime. That set is now going for $100 (just 12 postcards). I finished a postcard set of Hawaii, it had good detail, excellent colour, and a map of Hawaii on the back; I thought I should go get another. Except now it is a rarity and selling for $50. Some postcards I bought from Amazon in German in order to get a particular photographer. We are almost out of Escher, and Ansel Adams, and Frank Llyod Wright and graveyards in black and white……. I am desperate to find the highest quality postcards, many do come in, from all over the globe, and many which I have purchased from all over the globe but they go out just as fast!

This week I cleaned out a limited edition box set (perfect size and quality for stamping, excellent colour and variety) which went out, now out of print, with special limted edition stickers on it from an anime series showing adults both straight and same sex couples in love. Those stickers? Turns out I bought the last box when I asked the supplier in Japan for another (out for 2-3 years). It was $55 and shipping for the box of 40 stickers and yet, the quality of the stickers was ‘more.’ To be honest, a lot of the best of our stickers and some of our postcards come from readers; the Dr. Suess stickers – what fun we had with those. Postcards, sometimes just three or four and immediately we put names on the back, recognizing how this will make person 431 happy or person 67 content or person 274 simply not able to believe we found one. I have to take the credit because of confidentiality but thank you to those who sent in the postcards which were ‘more’, the stickers which were ‘more’, which were gothic and sassy, which were perfect for kids, which were Japanese monsters, that postcard made of a giant rubber squid.

So that was the weekend, Saturday and into Sunday and I’m not sure why I went on so much about the postcards except for two reasons: 1) I am only a single human being and cannot actually GO places, plus I have a limited viewpoint – other people CAN go places and have lots of viewpoints (like if you know where to get Edgar Allen Poe or Edward Gorey postcards or postcards showing the 17th Century? I'm serious and those are just one small subsection, about 10%-14% of the 40 we send out a week). And 2) I wanted those people who get the postcards and anyone who has ever participated by seeking out the 'more' postcards and stickers, or sending in from an extra stamp to a sheet of them to know that every week what they did mattered. But also, because of THEM, and for me, I try HARDER. I try to make it so that each postcard is the best it can be, that each postcard is amazing or the RIGHT postcard for that person, even if I could use it for 40 OTHER people but it would not be just the RIGHT fit as that one person, and I will never see that postcard again. And I may have just taken it out of an envelope from someone who sent it to help less than a day before. You also never get to hear what happens to your postcard, like a solo played in the night, you never find out who heard you, and what it meant to them, what difference it made. But YOUR postage stamp is on that chosen postcard, and it wouldn’t be possible without you.

I wanted people who get the postcards and have gotten them to know, that I am human, and I fail but I do try, with all my mental powers that I have that week and my ability, indeed beyond my ability, to make sure each postcard is correct and the best one for you. That is my goal, and sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail, and without Linda, and Cheryl and other unnamed and sometimes unseen hands that would not be possible.

As I learned in the ER; caring with full concentration on what the OTHER person wants or needs is what makes the difference.

There are times that Linda HATES the postcards, the project, the ‘surprise gifts’ because she sees the pain that I receive, over and over again. She hates the fact that I can send out 50 postcards, that took me four or five days of late nights making them and the last two nights I was working straight through, and she KNOWS that I will never hear from any of those people. I KNOW.

Cheryl will bring over for another week nothing but postcards from a single individual, sometimes a letter from the same individual and then the supplies I have bought myself. Sometimes it is week after week, like that, and week after week, I pour myself out like a fountain. Linda told me that she does not ‘believe.’ I go on day and day, week and week. Today I showed you the postcards in hopes that you liked them, it is true. But I will go on for a week, for two, not having received a postcard, an email, for three weeks, for four, no packages, for five, for six, for seven. I go on, hundreds of postcards sent out and as I completely open myself, committing myself to loving someone in the way that is needed to think only of what the other person needs for hours then I will get hurt. I will hurt very badly, attacked, isolated, alone, simple, childlike, crying. But I go on because I believe. I believe that if I do it right, if I do it often, if I do my best, that some of them will intersect with unexpected results. To break solitude, to help foster joy, to simply be there when needed, and in many ways I do not know.

Linda cannot stand the sight of me unable to sit up straight, half my face smiling as I had a TIA (mini-stoke) because I am finally done. She gets angry, she says when I am lying down, after the painkillers and the moaning and shrieks, with tears running down my face into pools in the pillow in order to keep my face straight, to keep myself from groaning in pain. My body, broken to serve.

Send a card to Linda, because she cleans up the pain, she holds me while I sob a broken heart and then start again. She wants to scream in frustration but then sits down and helps me sort postcards. If you cannot write to me, then write to her because I do believe. Somewhere out there, something has happened, is happening that makes the fusing of work and agony worth it; because I do not see it, because I do not hear it does not make it less true.

That was my weekend.


Stephanie said...

What a busy weekend.

I have a new A-Z blank notebook in which I'm writing down addresses... I just put yours in, so when I write my own postcards today I will remember that not only should I pass it on but I should pass it back. I have stickers instead of stamps and I hope you'll like my postcards of places in Europe. I don't know where to find any other types of postcards. I'm sure I'll look harder once I'm back home next week. Or maybe learn to make postcards! That would be fun.

The picture of the woman surrounded by butterflies... well, I don't know what to say about it. I'm just going to stare at it for a while.

For the record, I'm also plenty jealous at the markets you have and all the pretty things there. :P

SharonMV said...

Dear Beth,
I believe. I believe in you. I believe in what you are doing. Being a small part of the postcard project has made a very big difference in my life. Every time I receive a card from you it's a splash of joy. I know that for every one person who e-mails to thank you, a hundred or more are thanking you in their hearts. And many who have forgotten how to feel joy or gratitude may be starting to know those feelings again.


PS: did you get your Pansy garden postcard?

Kate J said...

I loved the glass jewellery and the pottery! I can see I'll have to allow for visiting some of those markets when I'm in Canada. As my cousin lives on Saltspring Island, and there's a great market there, that's where I'll probably go, but if I'm in Victoria itself, I'll try to visit one of these others. Last time I was over, 4 years ago, I bought a fantastic bag in the Saltspring market, from a woman who makes bags and other stuff from furnishing fabric remnants. All the bags are different, and were a very reasonable price. What's more, I've now used mine every single day for 4 whole years, and it shows no signs whatsoever of wear! A beautiful and unique souvenir of my visit, and a really hardwearing bag.

And, Beth, reading back through your last couple of posts (I've been away for a few days) I am so sorry to read about yet another apparently futile hospital visit, yet more doctors who seem unable to do anything to help you... I do hope you're feeling a little better now.

Love & peace

Lene Andersen said...

and that was one hell of a weekend. I love the glass jewelry - will drop by their website later to drool. And the last image of the woman, the water and the butterflies is going to be haunting me for a while. That and how you ended this post, so beautifully and sad and yet... sorry, I don't have the word I'm looking for (way too much codeine in my body right now to think).

Thanks for writing this.

JaneB said...

((((Hugs to you both))))

And best wishes for many more weekends admiring the lovely arts and crafts and sharing pictures

The postcards matter to me, at least - I love getting your cards, they always seem to find the right time to appear, when I am discouraged or lonely.

wendryn said...

The pictures are beautiful. You manage to find beauty in the most interesting places! :)

I'm sorry you get so little response. You give so much that I wish people understood more and gave back some.

Still here, still reading. Wish I could do more.

*hugs* to you, Linda, and Cheryl.

Raccoon said...

Oh! Lots of nice looking things! The tide pools are amazing.

Did the lady with the preserves have more than just that one flavor of diabetic jams? Hrm. I might have to send you some money...

It's too bad that I don't use the straight edge anymore. The shaving soap sounds great.

And why were you not in your power chair? (Everyone needs someone to tsk at, just as everyone needs to be tsked by someone)

Postcard! I got a new postcard! And, speaking of "something more," I've got some stuff to send you. I'll try to have it out tomorrow; maybe you'll get it by the weekend?

yanub said...

Greetings of the early morning, Beth. You certainly had a busy weekend, between the market and postcards. Your postcards are amazing. And you getting so many out constantly astounds me. I have such a time even remembering to put a stamp on an envelope, and then remembering it still needs an address....

So the demolition crew is taking it's own sweet time? Fancy that, construction taking longer, much much longer than promised. I guess they have to say what the owners want to hear, but it sure is hard on everyone who has to make plans.

rachelcreative said...

You do find some great stuff at markets. I think that must be a willingness and eagerness to really see it and to engage with the stall holders. I tend to be too timid to even go look sometimes!

It's still making me chuckle that someone can think wearing tie-dye exposes your to drug culture.

I always find it really interesting when you talk about the postcard project and the details of it all. You take so much care and pride in every one you send it's really more than just a postcard by the time it gets sent.

When I make it out the house I do look for postcards but am always a bit disappointed at the quality. Such a shame. I'll keep looking though.

I never even knew you could spend so much on stickers and postcards. Wow. You have a keen instinct for the collectable and rare and a great talent at sniffing them out.

I wonder if there is some kind of book stand (you can add to your amazon list) that would help you take photographs from your art books? A bit like you can get for cokkery books perhaps? I know you can get hand held book holders that make it easier to hold a book and turn the pages too. But you need something that can sit on a flat surface and hold the page without damaging the book. Hmmm.

I still have all my postcards you sent me. I'll let you see them all sometime.

It's so hard when you see the one you love hurting and you know you (or at least your illness and pain) is the thing that causes it. And what you want to do is, as a partner, step in and help make it better. But if you could do that there wouldn't be the hurt in the first place. The only answers I can find is to love. Love and respect and trust and talk. Because I can still give that. And it does seem to help us both. And it's the most precious gift to give.

Abi said...

I love the pendants with the glass shapes in them! I am also rather fond of the well-packagedness of those soaps. I wish that mine looked that good! Of course, they could if I were prepared to make proper labels for them, but I am afraid that the first year I made them for everyone for Christmas, and wrapped them up in a double-layer (greaseproof paper then sugar paper), before tying them up with wool. This led me to the decision that I don't want to spend my life packaging soap!

I am so glad that you were able to get out for a bit.

foxaz said...

Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for stopping by my blog!
Your visit to the craft fair looked wonderful- such lovely things you got to see! It's so nice you share the beautiful things that happen in your life, - I can almost smell the soap as you describe it. And the glass jewellery and pottery? So very pretty! The jelly and jam looked delicious sparkling in the sun. I hope you and Linda have a lovely week and weekend. I'll be sending good thoughts your way.

FridaWrites said...

I've been so sick I can't even remember whether I've commented or not. What beautiful finds, both the created pieces for sale and the photos of them.

Have been enjoying the postcards--I am going to look for some for you when I'm out next.

Neil said...

Good morning, I hope.

The glass jewellery is very nice, the soaps look wonderful, and the fire and ice wine jelly is very photogenic.

The postcard descriptions always make me cringe for you, since you put so much effort into each card, and so much of yourself into the project. The amount of love you get back can't make up for the work; but I know that somewhere, people are appreciating your effort. I certainly love the cards you send!

Others have commented on the lady with the butterflies, but I think it looks morbid. I love the image of the lady with the cello, though. Music is life!

Love and zen hugs to both you and Linda, and to Cheryl and everyone else,

Victor Kellar said...

The glass work is really stunning

And I am so in awe of you and your postcard project. Don't every apologize. Collette and I treasure the things you send us (she received her card, she will comment soon but it's the last week of school so she's been crazy busy)

We still have blank frames for the most recent cards you've sent us and we'll be putting them up on our "Beth Wall" soon

Stoneware Mugs said...

It's fun to read your story! I like the handmade glass jewelry. It's so unique and very beautiful.