Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Quilts, Dinosaurs, A Hospital Scare And Work

It's been a crazy four days. I guess the best thing to do is go in order.

Friday morning I had to take the dogs to the groomer, so my friend decided to leave at the same time I did. She headed North to home and I dropped the dogs off. After I left them at the groomer, I decided to head out to buy a new quilt. I had seen a couple when we were shopping the day before that caught my attention and I went back to get one. I couldn't decide between two which were very different. They were kind of expensive and I stood there deliberating for about a half hour. Normally I can make a decision quite quickly, but this was a tough one. In the end I bought them both. I knew I shouldn't have spent so much, but I did. One was just squares of various plaids in classic Americana colors. The other was pink and white florals. I usually am drawn to pretty girly stuff, but I decided I rather liked the plaid one. I opened it up and sat down in the chair with it. Basil was the first to arrive. A few moments later I had a lap full of three cats and one dog. The new quilt had been approved.

When R got home, he was happy to see that I had bought him a quilt as well in guy colors. I passed it on over and opened the floral one. In reality I did have him in the back of my mind when I got that one. With the coming of the new quilts I was satisfied, and pretty much stopped mourning the loss of my old one.

Saturday we went out to dinner then to Walking With The Dinosaurs. If you haven't seen this, I must say it's quite amazing. I got a few pics, but they don't allow you to use flash (even though a lot of people did anyway) so they aren't the very best. When the T-Rex came out, despite knowing it wasn't real, I still got a little shiver. Those things were HUGE! All in all it was really fun, we had great seats and got a wonderful view of everything.

Sunday R wanted to watch the football game. The Vikings lost darn it! They are my team! While we were watching the game we played Monopoly which was fun because it was something we hadn't done in a ages. I also decided it was time to tackle the guest room and wash the bedding. I hadn't even gone in there since my friend left. Yes...it was pure avoidance, but I needed a couple days off before cleaning again.

My friend, who is a wonderful and thoughtful house guest had stripped the bedding for me. I picked up the pile of sheets and headed to the washer. Then I went back for the bedspread. Under it, all folded up neatly was my old quilt! She hadn't taken it. I panicked thinking maybe somehow she had read my blog.

As it turned out she hadn't read it.  Yesterday I talked to her on the phone, she said she had forgotten it. But not to worry she had gone out and bought a nice colorful one for herself, so I should just keep it. After all my fussing I still have it! *Bangs her head on the desk* Now we have lots of quilts! But I confess, I am not sorry my old friend isn't going away and that everything ended well.

About 6 PM my Step Dad called. I knew something was wrong instantly because he never calls. He is hard of hearing and the phone is difficult for him. He told me that my Mom was in the hospital and that they thought she had a small stroke. R was out of town, and I panicked instantly. Apparently my Mother had been getting dressed for the gym when her memory just vanished. She couldn't remember anything at all. He had rushed her to the hospital where they had run a whole battery of tests. I talked to her for a long time on the phone last night, and while her memory had mostly returned and she sounded ok...things were still a bit off. They weren't going to know anything for sure until they got the results back today. Needless to say I spent the night sleepless and worrying myself to pieces. I wanted to leave immediately to go up there, but they said no not yet.

I called this morning and they were in the process of releasing her. But I had to wait until she got home to find out what they said. Apparently she has been doing too much and was really stressed and overloaded. Plus she is hypoglycemic and her blood sugar had dropped drastically. No stroke though thank God. She is fine today and I am so SO relieved. She just has to be careful about her blood sugar and lower her stress. I have finally convinced her to try the meditation CD's and I am going to order her the one I have from Amazon.

While I was awake last night and trying to avoid stressing myself out from feeling afraid and helpless to do anything, I decided I should pour my energy into work. I haven't made anything in over a month and it was time to get back to work anyway, so I started stitching my new piece. He is half sewn and should be finished by tomorrow if I am lucky. You should be seeing him or her soon! I was going into work withdrawal, so I am sure this has opened the gate and you should be plenty of new stuff coming.

But for right now, I need to go meditate to get my own stress under control and take a nice hot shower! Keep your fingers crossed for me that the rest of the week is peacefully uneventful!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Simple Truths

Years ago I heard an anthropologist make a statement that left a lasting impression on me because of the simple truth of it. He said "People need human contact to realize that they are alive." I have thought about it over the years and I have mentally added a bit onto that statement. People also need human contact to realize that they are human. Artists tend to lead solitary lives despite having people in their houses and their social circles. It's the nature of the beast. As a result we can't always get out of our head and see ourselves for what we are, and we sometimes forget that we aren't so strange.

This afternoon my friend was having a little nap so I decided to sneak down to the computer and check my e-mail. While I was at it I had a little peek at my blog. I thought possibly I might have one or two comments from yesterday's post. I figured most likely they would be from someone telling me to suck it up and get over it. Especially since people in Haiti have lost their homes, all their possessions and more importantly their loved ones in these recent earthquakes. So who was I to be whining over the loss of my ratty old quilt that I freely gave away?

Instead not only did I find human contact reaching out to me across the internet in the form of people who understood how I felt, but you had compassion for what I was feeling. After reading every word you wrote (Yes Heather I actually did mean the last line to be a tad humorous to lighten it up!) the dam finally broke and I had a little cry. Sure, it might seem silly, but it was cathartic and I am not sure if my cry was for the loss of the quilt or the kindness of people...or maybe the realization that I am not some odd monster with two heads and six eyes.

What I learned through your comments was another simple truth...that I wasn't being foolish or superficial or selfish...I was being human. Some days I forget that I don't have to be the Rock of Gibraltar every minute, I can be frail and human and lament silly things and it's ok to feel what I do, even when others have it far worse off than I do because it doesn't diminish anything for us to do that. It doesn't mean I care any less about my friend, or all the people suffering on a small island that has been struck by tragedy. It doesn't mean I am a bad person. It just means that like all other people on the planet, I have weaknesses and things that make me feel lost when they are taken away. So I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your kind comments. I didn't expect to receive them, but you gave them freely and they meant more to me than you can possibly imagine.

However, as usual my mind had a hold of a new bone to chew on and after I dried my eyes and blew my nose, I realized another simple truth. Regardless who we are or what our circumstances are we all have our "security blanket." Yours might not be an actual blanket, but it's something familiar and comforting. It doesn't even have to be something genuinely old or covered in battle scars, it can just be the idea of something familiar to us. But here is the part that surprised me the most for not making the connection sooner; it's that concept that my entire career is based on. What is more familiar and comforting to so many than a teddy bear? I have always said that my job is to evoke memories of a childhood past, or simply wished for when describing my business. At shows people have always told me the bears feel so wonderful because of the way I stuff them. They like to hug them close, and they tell me it's "comforting." So how can I beat myself up for feeling the same thing that my customers feel all the time from what I make.

That led me to a final simple truth...what I do for a living isn't foolish or superficial either. It's not a fluff job that we artists have. Over the years I, like so many others, have done a lot for charities through what I do, I have helped others and I will again. It's no less important than being a doctor or lawyer or anything else, because we all need something to hang on to...whether it's an old quilt, a teddy bear, or simply the hope that someone cares and the comfort of knowing we are not as alone as we sometimes think we are.

Losing My Security Blanket

If you come to my house and you fall in love with something, unless it's a family heirloom or a special gift I received from someone you will most likely find yourself going home with whatever it is. Should it be one of those super special things I cannot part with, I will do my best to find you something almost exactly like it no matter how long it takes.

I love my stuff, but I have also never had a problem sharing my stuff, and never regretted giving anyone anything. So what I am about to tell you makes me feel horribly ashamed of myself and superficial on top of it.

As I mentioned in my previous post I have a friend from out of town visiting...not to worry, she doesn't like the computer and doesn't read my blog, so she will never see this post. Knowing that, is the only thing that allows me to share my misery with you. I adore my friend and I would never want to make her feel bad.

When she arrived she fell in love with the ratty old quilt I keep at the end of the sofa. I have had it for about 15 years, and it's nothing special. I bought it at Mervyns, and it wasn't expensive.

She thought this was the most wonderful thing, and a large portion of yesterday's shopping outing was spent looking for a quilt for her. We found several, but the color was always wrong, or it didn't feel right, or any one of a dozen other reasons why she didn't want to buy one. When we got home last night she kept going on about how perfect that one was, the color was just right, etc. so I said if you like it take it.

Honestly I couldn't understand why she would want it though, and I felt as if I really should have tossed it in the garbage long ago. It has been washed 300 times at least. I finally gave up trying to repair it years ago and it's quite worn. She was utterly delighted to have it and took it down to bed with her. I didn't give it a second thought.

I went to bed, and several hours later I woke up feeling little sick to my stomach. I came out in the living room crawled in the chair and reached for the quilt which of course wasn't there. My sense of loss was suddenly so acute it hurt worse than my stomach.

I sat there over analyzing my feelings as I tend to do with myself. I realized that the quilt had been there through two major surgeries and three minor ones. It had been there for every flu, cold, and ailment I had.

It had been a soft cradle for all the pets that have lived here to sleep in my lap for the past decade and a half. Including my beloved Shelby who has been gone for over two years now. They have all been taught that they cannot get on the furniture, but that my quilt covered lap is ok as long as they have an invite.

The quilt had been there for cool summer evenings when I didn't want to close the window, but was too chilly to sit there without it. It had been there through cold winter nights when I laid on the sofa trying to stay warm. It had been there through readings of all the Harry Potter books, every James Rollins novel, countless magazines, and scores of other great reads. It had been there for more movies than I can count. It was there every morning when I get up to see R off to work and was cold from just climbing out of a warm bed. It has been there when I had life's great issues to just sit and ponder. It had been there through daydreams and a million ideas for my art work. It was there when I meditated, or used my neck massager. It had been there when I wanted to avoid the harshness that life can deal out.

I also realized that it's worn nature and hundreds of washings made it soft and wonderfully comfortable, adding character that cannot be found in something new. It can only be come with longevity and use.

It suddenly occurred to me that it was part of my personal history and that's why it never quite made it to the garbage bin. It also occurred to me that at 46 years old, I have a security blanket. I wanted to run down to the guest room, snatch it back and tell her she couldn't have it. I wanted it, I needed it! But I couldn't do that. I told her she can have it, and I will not go back on my word, nor will I ever let her know how hard it is to give it up.

So I sit here this morning feeling ashamed of myself. It's just a thing. I shouldn't be so attached to a material object. Even something that cannot be duplicated. I tried to justify it by telling myself that by passing it on to my friend she is adding a new chapter to it's history. I have told myself that she clearly needed the comfort that it provides more than I do. But in truth it's not working, and I don't know why. Like a child, I just want to cry for it's loss. Is it because we all need our security blanket and our little tangible piece of history? Or is it because I am just a selfish and superficial person?

In the future when people come to visit, and they fall in love with something I have, they will most likely still go home with it...even if it's a new quilt that earns it's place in my heart and home. But just for this one morning, I still feel foolishly, selfishly, childishly sad. And...I am cold.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Flurry Of Activity

Just a quick note to let you know I haven't gone AFK again. It's been a flurry of activity around here. I have an out of town guest arriving any minute and I have been cleaning and getting ready for her visit.

I am quite excited that she is coming, but it does mean blogging will be put on hold for a little while.

I will see you when I get back! Have a lovely day!

Hugs, K. <3

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Touchy Subjects

Yesterday's post earned me the loss of several followers and one long ranty e-mail. I was rather surprised by that. The writer told me in no uncertain terms that children were entitled to freedom of speech and self expression and that I should just shut up and stick to blogging about bears. (I am paraphrasing.)

I am not sure why the person was so upset, I don't know them from Adam, and I wasn't pointing fingers at any one's kids in particular. Nor did I suggest that children aren't entitled to freedom of speech. Although...so am I, a point that the author seemed to have overlooked.

In fact I assumed that all of my readers are very invested in raising good kids. But that they can be influenced online or off by outside sources that parents aren't always aware of that pose a threat. Avatar sites for instance look pretty innocuous from the outside, but when you delve into the forums, most parents would be shocked by what they see. I was a moderator on one of these sites because I knew the administrators and they wanted trustworthy adults to help keep these kids safe. After about a year I just couldn't do it anymore because so many of these kids are so jaded and know such horrifying things, so I have seen enough to know there is concern. In fact I have even seen kids admit that if their parents knew what went on they wouldn't let them go to those sites.

As for blogging about bears...well yes that is one facet of my life. But I never claimed this was just an art blog. The name is "A Stuffed Life" and like anyone else, my life is stuffed with all sorts of things besides bears. I am a three dimensional, real person who has other things to say once in a while.

I always feel that adults can address touchy subjects and respect each other's rights to our opinions even if they differ because we are adults. I feel we should be able to do that without feeling uncomfortable. I have also never had a problem discussing the taboo subjects of politics and religion, and never felt the need to get into an argument over it.

My intent for yesterday's post wasn't to outrage or offend anyone, it was meant as a cautionary tale. I wasn't suggesting anyone was a bad parent, I am suggesting that sometimes people just simply aren't aware of threats because they haven't had any reason to be made aware of them. While my intention is never to purposely make anyone mad, sometimes in addressing touchy subjects that are upsetting to people, we also open their eyes and make them think. That is never a bad thing.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fearing For The Future

It seems people are fearful for our planet lately. We are afraid of our greenhouse emissions, diminishing ozone layer, global warming, and the approaching 12/21/2012. But I think people are afraid of the wrong thing.

This morning I saw some kids on a site being asked who their hero is. Nine responded. 2 said their Grandmother, 1 said her Aunt, 1 said the Marquis de Sade, 2 said Adolph Hitler, 2 said Marylin Manson, and 1 said satan. This wasn't a dark or disturbing site either. These were average kids.

I realize teenagers often like to use shock value to get a response and attention, and if that was the intent, they succeeded, I was shocked. Regardless the intent, I am amazed that their minds even went in this direction at all. Those names still stike fear in my heart as an adult. I have also noticed how utterly narcissistic teenagers are these days. I find myself worrying about our future for these reasons far more than the ozone layer, because it's having an impact right now.

I think the most shocking thing I did as a teenager was spray a couple blue streaks in my hair that washed out later that night. The next day I felt stupid for even having done it, despite the fact that it wasn't permanent.

I am fearful of our future if this is the mentality and lack of morality our kids have. What I have to ask myself is why is this happening to our kids? What are they being taught? More importantly...what are they not being taught? As a society we now claim that we must be accepting of all things and ideas, but I don't want to be accepting of Hitler as an idol. I don't want to be accepting of Marylin Manson as a role model.

I am sorry this wasn't a pleasant post like usual, but I felt it was important for anyone with kids out there to stop and think about who your kids are hanging out with(especially online) and what are they learning from them? I urge you to take a moment to really look at the sites your kids are going on, even if from the outside they seem perfectly harmless and innocent. When you delve deeper you may not like what you find.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Magic Beans

Have you ever been out shopping and had something unusual catch your eye? You stop and look at it, and while you may be intrigued by it, you aren't certain you actually like it. In fact you're pretty certain you don't. So you move on and continue shopping, but the odd thing keeps whispering to you. So you have to go back and look...maybe several times. Finally you can't resist and you buy it. You don't know why, but you just have to have it. That has happened to me a few times, which is why I have a collection of ugly cabbage ceramic pieces and also what I am sure has to be the most hideous candle holder ever made. I really love it though.

I had that happen a few days ago. I went to a HUGE antique mall that I like. I was wandering up and down the aisles looking for linens. But of course when I go to this place I have to look at it all. No easy proposition due to the size. The last section I go to are the "cases." The cases are row upon row of curio cabinets filled with little trinkets like jewelry, baseball cards, and all sorts of little oddities.

I spied this ring in a cabinet. My first thought was that it reminded me of a lava lamp. I decided to look at it out of curiosity. It was a sterling heart that was hollow and filled with something red and black set in resin and I wasn't sure what was it was. But I had the girl put it back and went on. It wasn't expensive, but it really wasn't my style.

I kept thinking about it while I was looking at everything else and went back to look at it twice, putting it back both times. I finally asked the extremely patient girl with the keys, if by any chance she knew what was in it. She said it was seeds from Peru, and that they were good luck.

Honestly I wasn't sure I believed her, because they didn't look like any seeds I have ever seen. They were red with black tips, almost like spotless lady bugs. She asked me if I had noticed that everything in that particular case was on sale for 20% off? I hadn't noticed since the sign was a sticky note way at the top of the cabinet.

Finally I caved and asked her to take it the counter so I could think about it a little more and see it in different light. When I was ready to pay several other items I had picked up were also on sale, so I decided to go ahead and buy the ring.

When I got home, I decided to do a web search for red seeds from Peru. As it turns out, they are real. They are called Huayruro seeds, and they are considered to be extremely good luck. I don't really believe in that, but that's ok.

However, like Jack with his magic beans, ever since I brought it home...my luck has seemed to improve. I am feeling better and sleeping well again. Was it the seeds? Probably not. But I can't say that for sure now can I? *winks*

Monday, January 4, 2010

Behind, Behind, Behind!

I keep trying to get caught up. I am slowly but surely getting there. I finally got all the Christmas decorations taken down which was a major accomplishment. As soon as they come down I am immediately ready for Spring. Christmas is the only thing I like about Winter.

I always have the urge to nest a bit, and make things bright and cheery. One of the best purchases I ever made was on a whim, it was a tablecloth at Pier 1 that was on clearance for about three dollars. It's so pretty, it has old fashioned 30's appeal. It's those perfect ice cream shades they favored then. It's aqua with pink flowers and green leaves and a little yellow thrown in. It always cheers me right up to put it on the table after Christmas.

I have a huge urge to go to this antique mall we have in town, but I am trying to resist. I have to finish the new website layout and maybe even get something made. My inventory was decimated in December, which is good...but it left my site a bit empty.

Following the same need I have for the house, I want to make the site bright and cheery. I had intended to go straight into Valentines Day since it's not that far off, but as is the nature of art...it's taken on a life of it's own and is turning into something else entirely.

Hopefully I will have it done very soon. Stay tuned! I am going back to work.

Hugs, K. <3

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

New Years is a time for resolutions. Usually we give something up. But I have been thinking, why should it always be negative? Afterall, it's not lent. So this year I have decided that I am only going to drink champagne if I have alcohol, I am going to wear lace and ruffles every day. I am going to cover all my furniture in satin and velvet, and I am going to buy a french poodle and dye it pink!

Ok...I am kidding of course. But really when you think about it resolutions are sort of silly, we hardly ever keep them. I think instead we should just celebrate the fact that we have a shiny new year to make into something wonderful and not get caught up in trying to do things that will ultimately feel bad if we don't accomplish them!

Happy New Year everyone!
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