Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Funny Little Surprise

You may have noticed that I removed yesterday's post.  Before I start today's post I want to explain why.  As it turned out the article on the TSA that had me so upset was retracted by the media.  Apparently it didn't all happen quite the way they originally printed the story.  So in light of that I felt that it was only right to remove it.

Now on to today's post which is much happier!

This afternoon I went out to get the mail, there was the usual junk, magazines and bills.   But there was also an odd little envelope that felt rather thick.  I couldn't imagine what it was.  I knew I hadn't ordered anything.  When I opened it, there was a cloth pouch inside.  It was black with stars and a little star button holding it closed.  It's far cuter than the picture shows.
   When I opened it, I saw that it said "What's in the stars for you Leo?"  It still was very mysterious.
 Inside was a cleverly worded card for 15% off of my entire purchase at Anthropologie.   I found that pretty darned exciting, since that is my very favorite store in the whole world!  I know it's a way to get people to come in and spend money...but you know what...it worked!  I will definitely be going up to Denver next month to happily use it.  (We don't have one here.)

I love it when businesses go the extra distance.  We have gotten used to individuals doing that, but big businesses don't usually do things like that.  When is the last time you got something in a nice fabric pouch, that in itself was like a little gift...or even something that made you feel special from a big business?  It really made me smile, and reminded me why I love that store so much!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hung Up On Definitions

Everyone has an opinion on everything they believe and hold dear.  Deep down we tend to believe that our opinion is the right one, even if we say we are open to other ideas and opinions.  It's human nature and it's completely normal.  In truth each of our opinions is the right one...for ourselves.  We have based our opinions and formulated what we believe due to circumstances and episodes that have shaped our lives.

But we have all seen what happens when people get mired down in debating who is right and who is wrong.  Wars break out, people fight and lose respect for one another, they will go the distance to prove they are right even if they aren't entirely certain the other person really is wrong.  In the end it's a waste of energy and things fall by the wayside and don't get done because everyone is caught up in the debate.

Regardless what business you are in, chances are you have an opposing view of it that differs from one or more people in that same business.  If you are new to the business that can be very confusing.  If you have been in the business for a long time, then you have your set of ideals already in place and all the debate in the world probably won't change them very much.

When it comes to the handmade world there are two debates that rear their heads quite often.  The first one is whether something is truly one of a kind or not.  Some people believe that in order to be one of a kind a thing has to be genuinely unique in every aspect.  That's kind of a tough one.  If we get down to brass tacks, no one makes a one of a kind anything.  I certainly haven't made the only mohair teddy bear the world has ever seen.  Therefore it could be said that no teddy bear is one of a kind ever.  On the other hand, I rarely make anything that is identical in mohair and costuming..thus making it only one.  So it's one of a kind since it's not two or more of a kind.  But I use the same patterns for a period of time on each of those individual bears until I design a new one.  Is it one of a kind or not?  Hmmm....that's where the debate enters.  But let me ask you this; are you one of a kind?  Is there another human being exactly like you?  The answer is no, you are unique.  You are one of a kind, and yet you are made from the same nifty pattern and materials as every other human being.  You have your arms and legs and eyes all in the right places and you are easily definable as a human being when people look at you.  So who decides what the definition of one of a kind is and what it isn't?  I went to the best authority I could think of...Merriam-Webster.  This is their definition of one:

In particular I liked the reference to "one day."  It reminded me that each day is the same....24 hours.  Dusk is always in the evening and dawn is always in the morning.  But each day is unique and one of a kind for each of us.

I think we worry too much over this phrase.  As far as I am concerned if there aren't more exactly the same, then there is one.  When I buy a bear, a loaf of bread, a pair of shoes, or anything else in the world...I buy it because I like it.  I have never once bought or not bought something because it was or was not one of a kind.  I am not sure collectors care that much about that sort of thing unless they are buying it solely as an investment which they intend to sell for profit at a later date.  I have found that the majority of collectors who purchase my work buy it because it speaks to them in some way.  That makes me happy.  It's what matters to me and makes me want to keep working.

The second debate that rears it's head in the handmade world quite often is whether someone is an "artist" or not.  Again I went to Merriam-Webster, and this is their definition of artist:

I really liked the part about "one who professes and practices an imaginative art."  What's more imaginative than a teddy bear?  Bear artists employ all sorts of techniques.  Things that are not specific to the genre, like painting and sculpting.  If you tell someone you are a painter or a sculptor, no one questions whether you are an artist are not, it's simply accepted that you are.  While I don't use marble, I take a two dimensional piece of material and sculpt it into a three dimensional bear.  I may not use canvas, but I do "paint" (liberal use of the word there) them to give them a certain finish that creates a vintage look and changes the original "canvas."  Does that qualify me as an artist? 

Now for me, I have used the phrase "bear artist" for a long time.  Does that mean I think of myself as an artist?  To be honest while I apply the phrase to myself for the ease-of-a-general-definition factor, I don't sit around thinking about it. I am too busy working and I have more interesting things to ponder most of the time.  The definition I take away from it is that means I am one person working alone creating the entire piece from start to finish out of my imagination, as opposed to being a designer or assembly line worker at a manufacturer or cottage industry.  Also that I go that extra distance to specialize what I create.  It's a quick and easy definition that people can identify.

But again when I buy a bear, I don't care if it was made by one person or fifty.  I buy it because I like it.  I don't worry if it's art or not.  I am only concerned with whether it tugs at my heart and if I feel the price is justified for the work involved.

In the end, I think we need to stop getting hung up on all these definitions and just work. Why define everything?  Art and artists are subjective.  Enjoy our work and the works of others.  Live and let live, let others create and define it how they choose.

Monday, June 20, 2011


The other day I was talking to my Mother and I told her about something I remembered from when I was a kid.  She was really surprised I could remember it.  I told her not only do I remember it, but I remember what the chair looked like, what I was wearing, what the temperature was, and exactly how I felt at the time.

A couple weeks ago I was telling another bear artist about the first time we met.  He didn't remember it, but I told him a few details.  What I didn't tell him was that I remembered a whole lot more details than just what I told him.  And...that I remember every detail of every time I have ever seen him, and nearly everyone else I have ever met.  I did however give a disclaimer that I am not a stalker. *giggles*  I actually have to do that a lot.

Last night it finally rained.  We have had a drought, and I was thrilled we had a storm.  When I went to bed I was thinking about the first time my Mother pointed out lightning.  I didn't know what lightning was though and I confused it for something on the landscape that I had never seen before.  I was very, very young.  I remember we were walking and she wanted to hurry.  I remember exactly where we were and what it looked like, what we wearing and where we had come from.

I even remember the day I began to be able to remember.  I was roughly 2 1/2 years old, I was in my Grandma's kitchen.  I asked for a green sucker.  I can tell you what the linoleum looked like.  I remember the room layout, the furniture, the colors of the braided chair pads, what I was wearing, what she was wearing and that she was drying dishes.  She sat the dish towel down, which was red and white striped cotton, and reached on top of the fridge to get a sucker out of a can.  We were out of green, and I ended up with an orange one.  Everything before that moment is a bit fuzzy, although every once in a while something will seep through with a little more clarity.

I don't know if you watched 60 Minutes last night, but apparently it was a repeat.  It was the first time I had seen it however, and I have to say I was rather excited about it.  They did a piece on "Superior Autobiographical Memory."  Now I don't have that, but I am close. 

I can't remember numbers very well.  That goes back to something that happened in 2nd grade with a dreadful teacher I had named Mrs. Jones.  I remember the entire day leading up to it, and after...but I cannot remember what happened exactly.  I think I have blocked it out.  I know it had something to do with numbers and I know I was crying hysterically.  But that's it.  I do however remember her making me miss lunch every day to re-write my homework because my hand writing was so bad.  I always wondered why she did that, because it was never any better the second time I wrote it.  I also remember riding home on the bus every afternoon just starving for having missed lunch.  She always took my lunch away and never gave it back.  Of course now she wouldn't be able to get away with that, but in the 60's teachers could do more to their students in the name of higher learning.

As a result, I can't recall dates since they are numbers.  But my memory is horrifyingly good.  Another interesting thing in last night's episode was when they were showing Marilu Henner's closet.  While I don't have a closet like hers, mine is colorized and has been since I was 22.  All of my shoes are in labeled boxes and grouped together by style, and also colorized.  The rest of my house isn't nearly as nicely organized, but I can tell you where nearly every single thing I own is.  Believe me, what with 30 years of bear supplies piled on top of the rest of the stuff I have accumulated...that's saying quite a lot.  I also tend to be a bit of a germaphobe like the guy sitting in the group to the bottom left.  The other thing I have in common with them is that my temporal lobe is larger than normal.  I remember a doctor mentioning that during a CAT scan.

The thing I took away from the show was that all of a sudden, I didn't feel quite like such a freak.  People who know me well are always astounded by my memory retention, and sometimes doubt that it's really as good as I say it is.  But it is that good, and I have come to realize that having a memory like mine is rare, in fact I have never met anyone else with the memory retention I have.  Like the people on the show, I have to agree that it can be a blessing and a curse.  I usually tell people that it's sporadic eidetic memory, but that's not quite accurate because it's more than sporadic.  I seem to have something that falls in between several categories.  Being different can make you feel very alone sometimes.  It's nice to know I am not alone.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Little Night Magic

I want to apologize for such sparse posts.  I know that every time I don't post much, people always think something is wrong.  In fact nothing is wrong except the heat and the wind.  It has been crazy hot here.  Today my thermometer read 94 degrees!  That's just insane for this elevation.  Along with it we have had intense winds.  So I haven't been motivated to do a whole lot during the day.  Now we have air conditioning but I don't like to use it because it always makes me sick.  Today I broke down and used it though.

By the time night rolls around I am exhausted from working around the house and in the garden in the heat.  In fact last night I went to bed early because I was so tired.   I crawled into bed shortly after 2 AM (yes that's early for me!)  R had the window open and it was perfect sleeping weather...except that we still had a slight wind that was making the tree branch outside the window creak rather loudly, and R was snoring.

At 2:45 I admitted defeat and crawled back out of bed.  Instead of turning on the lights and doing something, I went and sat in the chair by the open window in the living room.  Basil crawled into my lap and we sat there listening to the chatter of the tree leaves as they swayed in the breeze.  The sky was just that perfect shade of mauve and it was simply magical.  At 3:15 I got an idea....I decided to go outside and see if I could improve my photography-in-the-dark skills.  I managed to get a couple pics that weren't blurry so I was feeling pretty good about it. 

When I came in the house, I called for the dogs and I saw a streak run past me.  Rizzo had bolted out to the back yard in the dark.  I can't explain why exactly, but I just couldn't bring myself to turn on the porch light.  It would have ruined the magic of it all.  But I still needed to round her up, so I grabbed my portable paper lantern and went to look.  I still had my camera...so I decided to take some more pics.

There is something much better about the soft glow of a paper lantern don't you think?  All in all it was lovely out even if I was wandering around in my frilly nightgown and my gardening boots.  Hey the neighbors already think I am a bit eccentric anyway!

I rounded up Rizzo and went to bed.  We ended up getting some good sleep afterall!
Also I know that some of you have been asking how Penelope is doing, and as you can see she is growing like a weed:

I am working on a bear, and weather and exhaustion permitting...he or she should be done soon!

I hope you all have a lovely day with good weather.  Pray for rain for us...we desperately need it!

Hugs, K. <3

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Meaning Of Five Posts?

I haven't been sleeping very well again.  It's not insomnia this time, but instead I am having a recurring dream...sort of.  More like a recurring theme really.  I can't figure out what it means.

I used to have recurring dreams as a kid.  Three different ones, and every once in a blue moon I will still have one of those three dreams.  One of those is I am walking across a kitchen floor we used to have made of tile, and as I step the tiles fall away to either side showing ocean underneath.  The second was again with water...I would dream of a white gorilla swimming in a lake like a diver.  The last was the most puzzling of all.  It was like one of those op art posters from decades ago that had the circle design and if you looked at it long enough it looked like a propeller in the center....well the dream was two of those with a line across.  The line would start to vibrate and hum.  The hum would get loud of enough to wake me up.  I have no idea what any of them represented.

Later in life if I would have recurring dreams I started to take notice of them.  The first one that impacted me was in high school.  I dreamt of a guy sitting under a tree reading a book for five nights in a row.  I happened to be in the book store that weekend and low and behold there was the exact guy.  I didn't speak to him, but when I noticed him he was staring at me with recognition as well.  In retrospect I wish I had talked to him.  It would have been interesting to know for sure if he had been dreaming of me too.  I was too shy at that point in life, and I left...never to see him again.  So why did I dream of a complete stranger?

Jump forward quite a few years and I began dreaming of a tornado coming at me every night for a week leading up to a show I was going to.  This time I was older and wiser and finally consulted a dream dictionary.  (Who figures this stuff out?)  Anyway...the book said that dreaming of a tornado meant that you were feeling turmoil about work.  That seemed reasonable so I didn't give it much more thought until I was driving home from the show.  Half way through Kansas, a tornado literally set down on my car.  Since then I have paid more attention to my recurring dreams.  Apparently my subconscious has more knowledge than my conscious.  A few years later, three nights in a row before a show I had the tornado dreams again.  I was a nervous wreck.  This time the tornado set down in a field across the road from me in New Mexico.  Needless to say tornado dreams make me extremely uneasy now!

The past three nights I have had dreams that while not the same, had a similar action.  I keep dreaming I am banging away on five posts with the flat of my hands...almost like bongo drums.  But I know my intent is not to make music.  There is more to each dream, but when I wake up all I remember is the part about the posts, and I have an uneasy feeling.  In the first dream I was in some sort of rocky outdoor place and the five posts were made of wood, like short logs.  They were painted red and I was banging away on them for some reason.  The next night I was in someplace that was black and glittery...like a nightclub after it had closed.  The posts were silver metal and very ornate.  The tops were domed this time and looked like giant pearls.  Last night I am not sure what sort of place I was in, but the posts were carved and black...like onyx tikis or something.  Again I was banging away on them, and in the same order each time.  It's as if it's a code or I am trying to open something.  I just don't know.
I am utterly mystified as to what my psyche is trying to tell me, or why I feel uneasy about it.  Whatever it is, at least this time I am fairly certain it doesn't involve bad weather!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

~*~ Good Time Charlie ~*~

Cause sometimes only a classic bear will do!  Charlie is brand new, and he is available on the Bears Page Of My Website.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Tips For A Clever Set Up

Since cats have been the topic this week, I thought I would share a little of R's cleverness with you guys.

A couple years ago R and I were going to go on vacation and we decided to have a friend come and "babysit" my pets.  When she got to my house she said she was really surprised that she couldn't smell my cats.  I asked her what she meant and she said well you know...the litter pan. 

I asked her if she could figure out where it was.  After looking all over the house she was mystified.  Finally she gave up and decided that they must be trained to use the toilet. 

As nice as that would be, no...they aren't quite that smart.  When we bought this house it was nice and large but there really was no convenient, out of the way place to put the pan.  So R, being the construction guy he is got right to work figuring out what to do.  Now over the years he has been offered money to set this up for other people...and while he hasn't accepted because he is too busy, he is happy to share the details for anyone who wants to do it themselves.

In our foyer under the table against the wall, if you were to bend down and look you would see a round hole that resembles a porthole.  It has a nice frame around it and is just about the size of a porthole too.  It leads to a piece of carpeted sonotube that goes through the closet and out into the garage.  Inside the closet he finished it with a wooden box and drywall to cover it and it makes a nice shelf for winter boots.  It looks as if it's always been part of the closet.

The sonotube leads to a large wooden box in the garage.  It has a hinged lid on top like an old wood bin.  Inside are two large litter pans.  He also put an exhaust fan leading outside so any smell there might be is sucked right out the back of the garage.

I have a very sensitive sense of smell and while I love my cats, I don't like bad odors.  It's a great system and if anyone wants more details I would be happy to supply them so you can do it for yourself!

Have a great weekend!  Hugs, K. <3
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