Friday, September 30, 2011

Dig the Du, and small apocalyptic micro bursts

Fun race alert!  Off-road duathlon - Dig the Du - is coming next Sunday.  Open Doors is an organization that has provided me with a lot of help and resources for my friend Shii, and they're organizing the race with French Broad River Academy to raise money for scholarships for Open Doors kids.  Good cause!  Fun race!

The race site is on private property adjacent to Dupont Forest, and it's beautiful.  The Citizen Times actually did a story on the race - here's how the blurb showed up when a friend linked to it on Facebook:

I read that, and was all "nooooooo!!!!"  That sounds like I'm actually going to try to win it or something.  If you read the rest of the story, it becomes clear that the heavy artillery is my mom and Sam.  We're doing it as a relay. And the last thing on our minds is winning it.  More like getting finished so we can eat at Cece's food truck.   So if you'd like to read the whole story - click here.  And if you want to come race with us - and it's going to be really fun, both because of the race course and because there's going to be good food, good beer, and good prizes - click here.

In other news, I'm supposed to be at Art in the Park tomorrow.  But I just checked the weather forecast, and here's the part I find most pertinent:

Uh oh.  If anyone would like to see what it looked like the last time I did Art in the Park with those sorts of wind gusts, take a look at the video below.  The woman in the lime green shirt trying to hang on to her tent - that's me.

So, using the theory that we all make mistakes, but we should try not to keep making the same one over and over - I'm bowing out for tomorrow.  I love Pack Square - love it - but it's the windiest place in Asheville.  If the wind is gusting at 40 mph in general, then they'll probably be looking for Toto on Pack Square.  But, for the sake of the artists, I *really* hope I'm wrong, and that the weather is beautiful, they all make lots of money and I end up kicking myself.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What Clark's Phone Saw

Clark just had me dump all of the pictures off his phone onto the computer.  And it was pretty entertaining - seeing as he hadn't done it since he got the phone 18 months ago, it was a walk down memory lane.  So, here's the last year (and a half) in review, as seen by Clark's phone.

Behold the waterfall!  Dupont Forest never gets old.

We got a puppy.  A poodle puppy who looked like he was covered in fake fur for the first 9 months of his life.  We love him.  A lot.

It snowed.  A freakish amount.  On Christmas Day, which seemed completely magical.

Headed off to the Christmas show at school with Sam and Shii.

Sam does his first 5K.  Runners take your marks! (Yes, he did wear his Chucks to run.)

My first tri with an ocean swim in Myrtle Beach.  The good news:  I run my way up to second place woman overall.  The bad news:  by the finish I felt just about how I look.

I start making lanterns.  I love the lanterns.  I explain for the 9,999th time that the tea light will not melt the shell.

Boy at the beach.

Sam's first All-Stars team.  This team was very proud of its status.  It didn't win a single game.  No one seemed to care very much.

Sam turns 8.  Many water guns are involved.

Still growing flowers for market.  This goes back a ways.

Before the swim start at Xterra Tsali.  My off-road Tri.  I'm not quite sure what I'm getting myself into.

 The finish of Xterra Tsali.  Very happy.  Very muddy.  The good news - 3rd place woman overall and 2nd fastest run.  The bad news - the first fastest run (and overall winner) put 4 minutes into me on a 5 mile run.  Ouch.  Fortunately she's about the nicest person you'd ever meet.  Plus she once finished on the podium as a pro at the Xterra World Championships.

Sam discovers his one true love.  Sushi.

Yet more flowers.

And - the best dog of them all, Georgia Smith.  May she rest in peace.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Etsy Treasuries

A quick note - my interview on the pressed flower blog is live - to see it in all its glory, click here.


One of the cool things about Etsy are the treasuries.  Basically someone puts together a group of things they like - usually centered on a theme.  It's a fun way to find some great things you wouldn't otherwise come across (unless you spend hours and hours wandering through the wonders of Etsy - which I actually think some people do, and might do myself if I had the time.)

I've been putting a bit more energy into Etsy lately, and I've been happy that several treasuries have featured my work.  So - here's a tour through some of those treasuries.  (For reasons unknown to me, blogger won't let me make the pictures into a link - so if you want to go to the live treasury on Etsy, just click on the title.)

Fabulous Fronds

And, one last Etsy note - I'm having a SALE in my Etsy shop this weekend for people who like my page on Facebook.  If you're interested in 20% off, head over here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Quiet Afternoon At Home

Here's what a quiet afternoon at home looks like.  At least this is what impersonates one at our house.  To be fair, first Sam went with me to restock at Woolworth Walk.  He was a doll - patient and easy.  Partly that's his nature, and partly that's because I bribe him with treats from the soda fountain.  You've got to do what you've got to do.

But then when we get home he's ready for some action.  And his most frequent partner in crime is me.  Which, I have to admit, is a whole lot of fun.

First, we explore both of our budding football careers.  You might think I'm a little late to be learning to throw a football, but I'm sure I read somewhere that new experiences are good for the soul.  Lots of personal growth.   And Sam will tell you I'm getting much better at it.  Ok, he's still better, but I'm working on it.

Next we move to to his true love - baseball. Except we live in town, so instead it's whiffle ball.

Here's my observation point.

Yep, lying down watching through the net.  Fortunately this is one man whiffle ball, in which I just have to admire the line drives.  Why the net, you might ask?  Because he can really hit a line drive with a whiffle ball.

Then the trudge to retrieve the ball.  

If I was a less lazy mom I'd go get it for him.  Instead I hang out with the third base coach.

Or sometimes I chat with the first base coach.

Sometimes there are dramatic reenactments during the walk back and forth.

Eventually whiffle ball runs its course - and then the first base coach, the third base coach and I all take cover.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

All Famous And Stuff

So, it turns out there's an actual World Wide Pressed Flower Guild.  When you end up as a pressed flower artist by way of law school and flower farming, you sometimes don't figure these things out.  And it further turns out that one of its members runs a blog on pressed flower artists, and that she likes to interview other pressed flower artists.  And, finally, it turns out she wanted to interview me.  So - here's a copy of the interview.  I'm sure it reveals all sorts of interesting secrets about the dramatic underbelly of pressed flower artistry.  Or maybe it just answers a few questions one might have about the process.  Whichever - enjoy.  And I'll post a link to the real interview on her site when it's up.  Because then it's like I'm all famous and stuff.

How did you get started with pressed flower art

I actually got here in a rather circuitous fashion.  I started as a cut flower farmer (and before that I was a corporate attorney - a whole different story.)  I had all of these beautiful flowers, and eventually I started pressing some of them.  And then I started playing with the pressed flowers, and started making some beeswax lanterns with the pressed flowers on them.  

Eventually I had a few lanterns that didn't work quite right, so I cut them up and spent some time staring at the panels of beeswax and flowers.  It was one of those times when you know there's something interesting that wants to be made, but it's hard to figure out what.  Finally I started playing with making jewelry, and had my eureka! moment.  

Now I make two different types of jewelry - the first uses a thin sheet of the beeswax and flowers (which I love because the beeswax provides a stable platform to cut the flowers, so I can frame out small pieces if I want).  Then the beeswax and flowers are mounted to a glass tile and the whole piece is sealed in resin.  I use this process to make pendants, earrings and rings.  The second type of jewelry (mainly bangles, rings and pendants) is pressed flowers encased in resin.  

What challenges have you encountered

I've definitely learned a lot through trial and error.  Certain varieties of flowers hold their colors really well and others don't.  Certain varieties are easy to press, and others - not so much.  But for everything that hasn't gone the way I wanted, lots of those times turned into what I call happy accidents - where I didn't necessarily get what I was expecting, but I still ended up with something interesting or educational.  It's all a learning process, and fortunately I enjoy the discoveries.

What advice do you have for newcomers to pressed flower jewelry

Don't be afraid to jump in!  But also, find a mentor or some good books - that can save a lot of frustration.  Overall, though, I think there's a lot to be said for just having fun and experimenting.

What are your plans for the future?

I'm going to keep playing and see where it leads me.  I've got some new molds for the resin jewelry that I'm anxious to try.  I went on a tear earlier this summer and made molds out of any shape that looked interesting to me.  When I get a little time in my schedule I'm going to sit down and play with those new shapes and see what I end up with.

I'm also hoping to expand my online presence with etsy.  Since I started as a farmer, I was very used to going to outdoor markets and have continued that trend as I transitioned to art.  But as my son gets older and the baseball games get more frequent on Saturday mornings, I'm putting a lot more emphasis on finding an online customer base as well.

Thanks for the interview, and good luck to all of the other flower artists out there!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's the Shoes, Man

At least I hope it is.  My running had been going rather well.  Of course, since it was during my blog hiatus, no one knew (and let's face, probably no one cared.)  But it had - right up until the Firecracker 5K in Weaverville on July 4.  Here's the report I sent to the coach that wrote my training plan:

Hi Vince - here's another race report, from the Firecracker 5K this morning. This was a much hillier course than the MSF 5K that I ran in 20:52 a few weeks ago, and you had my target pace at 6:33. Turns out my pace was. . . 6:33. Ask and ye shall receive. :)

Here were the splits:
mile 1: 6:37
mile 2: 6:40 (hillier than mile 1)
mile 3: 6:28 (long grind up for the 1st half mile, in which I really wanted to walk and/or die, long downhill for the 2nd half mile, in which I sucked it up and caught the girl in front of me)
last .12: 0:38

For 20:24 total, good for 2nd place woman (thanks to a decent kick that beat 3rd place by 4 seconds). Considering that the girl that placed 3rd beat me by 20 seconds at MSF, I was really happy with this result.

 So, all sweetness, light and happiness, right??  That was a PR, and I was happy with it. I really did mean it when I said I wanted to walk and/or die during the first half of the last mile.  I celebrated my finish by chatting with a fellow finisher until I said "excuse me, I'm so sorry", and then turned and dry heaved my guts out under a bush while Clark poured water on me and Sam looked on in horror.  (As an aside, Sam does a stellar interpretation of me post-race, complete with dramatic staggering and awesome retching noises.)  So - I was pretty sure I had gotten about all that I had to give out of myself for that day, and I was looking forward to hitting another training block with a new plan.  The elusive sub-20 minute 5K is drawing ever closer.

But. . .  I noticed my arches hurt the next day.  Let's face it, everything hurt.  But I remember thinking as I was running down to the finish that I was going pretty hard down hill - which I don't usually do - and I hoped everything held together - in particular my feet.   Weird, right, to have such great foreshadowing?  I know I ran the first half of that last mile (the uphill part) at well over 7 minute pace (the garmin kept spitefully telling me so), and I ended up averaging 6:28 pace, so I guess I was running sub-6 minute pace down the hill - which, for me, is hauling ass.  So the feet hurt a bit, but I ran a bit, and then I went mountain biking for the first time in ages, and then I hung my right foot on a root and just about busted it out running - and somehow all of these things converged and I ended up with a right foot that wasn't all that happy.  

It wasn't terribly unhappy - with a little babying it was happy to run 10 miles up Sunset and Patton Mountain and back down.  But it wasn't at all happy to do speed work - which sucks, because if you spend much time running up and down Sunset and Patton Mountain then you'll end up feeling rather fast on the track, and thus it's a little bit of a downer to have a foot that doesn't want to cooperate. (Although maybe it's better than the opposite - foot that totally cooperates with your slow, plodding, miserable attempt at speedwork.  Been there.) 

At any rate I've now thrown off the blinders of denial and have a plan.  Step 1 - yogapalooza.  I'm a dumbass and didn't do much yoga over the summer - too much fun at the pool with Sam.  And now my whole right side is considerably more tight than the left.  Oops.  Step 2 - get a chiropractor to put me back on the straight and narrow - check.  Step 3 - find a massage guy to rub the crap out of the leg - turns out there's a small muscle on the front of my lower leg that when rubbed forcefully by a rather large man makes my whole foot first feel electrified, and then feel better.  No wonder fixing an injury is such a crapshoot - how am I supposed to figure that out???  And now Step 4 - find some new shoes.  It's always the shoes, right?  Maybe not, but I'm having fun with the experiment.  So far I can report - Nike Frees:  feel pretty good.  New Balance Minimus:  weirdly made me feel very pronated, and I'm not much of a pronator.  Were also way too big, which probably didn't help.  Saucony Kinvarra:  in the mail.  Fingers crossed.

I guess I'm on Step 6 now - take a week off from running (which might explain my return to the blog.)  While still playing with Step 5 - I'm currently wearing a rather fetching combination of skirt and Nike Frees.  Clark was perplexed.  Hopefully though, through some combination of the plan and the shoes, I'll be back on the track in the near future.  Right?  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Let's Pretend Like That Never Happened

 I had to actually look at the last post to remember what it was about.  That's a bad sign.  But you know what - I've decided to skip the part where I make up some far fetched excuse to explain my absence from bloggerdom.   Or start with a slightly embarassed, totally apologetic paragraph reasoning away my disappearance.  Instead - I'm just going to pretend like it never happened!  Cool, right?

So without further ado, and in response to the last sentence of the previous post ("a follow-up report will be forthcoming"), and totally ignoring the few months in between - here are the results from my silicone adventures!

I made molds.  I made lots of molds.  I was a little high on the new found ability.  Kind of like somebody who finds religion and can't stop talking about it.  Except I  found the silicone mold and couldn't stop making them.  And a lot of the molds really were cool.  I still think I'm going to produce some fabulous, wacky, funky resin jewelry at some point.  But you know what the best of the lot was?  The new bracelet mold.  Which is kind of funny because the one thing I already had that I kind of liked was a bracelet mold.  But this one is *better*.  Chunkier, cooler, funkier.  Plus I just like it better.  I think the finish is better, and it feels more substantial (probably because it is more substantial.)

Here are a few pics of the results:

And while I like the bracelets (and I really, really do like the bracelets), I at least as much (maybe more?) like the photos.  Because I've made a *lot* of crappy etsy photos.  Most of which are no longer around for you to gawk at, praise the lord.  But these I'm actually pretty happy with.  Turns out - after much angst, experimentation and curse words - what you really need is a very cheap camera from Amazon, and a light box.  Et voila.  Word to the wise though - be careful how you store the light box.  It apparently looks *just like* a brilliant cat bed.  And when you combine a black cat and a white light box - well, it's never easy is it?