Category Archives: The Blog

So Says The Widow

So–I found this in one of my many “Ongoing Projects” files that I’ve been going through, trying to clean house. I like it–a lot. So I’m sharing. Last time I shared fiction on my blog, a reader got very upset because she thought it was something from my life, a regular blogpost. So be aware that This. Is. Fiction.

This is the day he died. Ten years ago today. Right over there in his old chair. One minute alive, watching something stupid on the TV, drinking a beer, stuffing his face with peanuts, the next a goner, sure as I saw one. His face come over all purple like and he gave one grunt. “Urrff.” Like a dog mid dream what gives but half a bark. I knew from the sound that something weren’t right.

Called them kids but none were home. Out and about, doing whatever. Christmas shopping and such. Or so they said. So I sat here with his old dead body and watched him turn cold and wax-like.

Person takes a while to go, you know. Life kinda moves away from the body. Or maybe the body stays still and the person moves away. It’s an odd thing, I’ll tell you that.

Course I didn’t just stand there and watch it happen. Took a seat, for the show you might say. I’d waited a long time for that man to die. Once upon a time, I thought I’d enjoy the sight. But he waited too long to do it, I suppose. I got no pleasure, but then I got no pain neither.

Come morning I called again. Dickie came, along with Miss Priss, that old thing he married. They was fit to be tied that I’d sat all night with a corpse. “Why didn’t you call 9-1-1?” Miss Priss wanted to know. Couldn’t rightly tell her. But then, I wouldn’t have even if I could. None of her business, I’d say.

Cops came in a squad car, squealing up to the house like it weren’t a dead body they’d been called to see. Then that fat old lardbucket, Waylon Reardan, what got himself elected coroner, and a couple of helpers from Jury’s Funeral Home to do the work, since old Waylon wasn’t capable of moving a dead chicken, let alone the heft of a man the size of Lloyd.

Took the lot of them almost to pry him outta his chair. He’d stiffened up so they couldn’t get him straightened out nohow. Kinda fitting, I thought. He’d lived in that chair so damn long, ended up shaped like the damn thing. Ended up, they had to sort of lift him up, two on each side, like he was some football hero just won the game.

Lloyd’s chair, Got it for hisself the Christmas before he passed. One hundred fifty dollars, cost new. At the Fresno auction. Took hisself down there and bid on it without a word. Brought it home tied down in the back of his pickup. Come into the house with it, squared it up in front of the TV and sat down in it like he weren’t fixing to move for love nor money. Course he weren’t fixing to. What he figured was he’d get me to do all the moving for him.

He’d sit there watching that old black and white TV, and on one of them collapsible metal TV table, he’d collected his ashtray, his beer and that damn bowl of nuts. He’d stare at that TV and yell out to me “Hey, Myrtie, bring me another one of them brewskis.”

Didn’t matter where I was in the house, doing whatever more important, if I didn’t answer him right away, he’d be a bellowing again, “Myrtie? You hear me?”

“I hear you. The dead hear you,” I’d tell him. I’d hand him the beer, and damned if he’d take it without even a look my way.

“S’that all you’re gonna do from now on? Watch that damned thing? You know them rays are poisonous. They shine right out from that there pitcher tube and beam right into your body. Frizzle your organs, they will. I read it. Turn your guts into dried rope.

“Course what do you care since your liver’s already pickled. Lloyd? Lloyd, you listening to me?”

“Oh huh, “ he’d grunt.

“No you ain’t,” I be starting to yell, getting mad-like by now. “I hate it, Lloyd. I hate it when you treat me like I’m some dead wall.”

He’d hear the yell and know he better perk up some. “I hear you, Mama. You said the TV will turn my guts into fried rope and my liver’s pickled.”

“Dried rope.”

“Dried, fried. What’s the difference?”

“No difference. No difference at all. Dried, fried, whatever, dead is dead.”

And, of course, in the end I was right. Dead is dead and it didn’t rightly matter what killed him. Waylon claimed it were a stroke. Who cares. He was dead.

Free Money for Writers

The McDowell Colony

…sort of.

As part of my research for other things writing related, I came across the website, Funds for Writers, which offers, neatly alphabetized, a list of grants writers can apply for along with deadlines and other relevant informaton.

I don’t know about you, but I have long harbored a fantasy of being awarded a fellowship at the McDowell Colony or the like. There’s something about the idea of all of my needs being satisfied in the service of my writing that seems magical to me. As in, I would magically write the purest of prose, with no tendency to procrastinate.

Here’s me as a fellow at a said writer’s conference:

I wake up to the sound of bird song. Is it the fucking jays twittering outside my window or is it the sweet sparrows warbling away?

Ne’er mind–my eyes open and I stretch and yawn and think of the exciting day ahead. All mine, to write, to create, to fantasize whole worlds—to go back to that fucking draft I left in the middle last night because it was turgid and going nowhere, nowhere, nowhere.

I climb out of my nest of comforters and open the front door of my cottage. There, just at the stoop, is a steaming pot of coffee and a wicker basket of freshly baked rolls. Will there be the ones I truly cherish–the baking soda, brown sugar, pecan knots–or will someone else have gotten the only rolls that are talismanic for my daily productivity? I root through the basket, find one twisted pecan knot and feel relieved that the omens for my day seem on my side.

And thus my day at the writer’s colony continues apace, as filled with the dark and the light, the yin and the yang, the blithe reduction to utter absurdity as any a day at home.

For those of you who want the real story, however, I offer this blogpost, All About Writers Colonies. The author, Nova Ren Suma, has surveyed a number of her fellow writers who have actually spent time at some of the most prominent colonies. They offer their experience–and their advice.

My fantasy about being awarded a fellowship at a writer’s colony will always remain hovering, somewhere just beyond my ability to actually sit down and apply. If you are more proactive than I, check out the list of grants from Funds for Writers.

And let me know how it goes. Really. Feed my fantasy with your own experience!

Return to Blogging, Take 2

Here’s my problem: I want to start blogging again. And one would think, what better place to do it than here, in this corner of my website labelled “Blog”.

Except–the kind of blogging I want to start again has little to do with writing or editing or process or revision. Except, of course, when it does. Which is when that thing in front of me, the whatever must be expressed that day, just happens to concern the written word.

Am I making any sense?

Do I really care?

What I miss about blogging, about the kind of blogging we used to do before we got concerned about stats and monetization (have I said all this before? because it feels very familiar…)–. Sometimes we wrote about what we ate for lunch, and sometimes we wrote about the state of our union (if we had one) that day. When I say ‘we’, I mean ‘I’, of course. Sometimes we/I ranted and sometimes we/I moaned.

All of those posts existed at some point in the MidLifeBloggers archive. However, the MidLifeBloggers archive no longer exists. Therefore, my pearls, those gems of my mind for the years ’05-’15 are lost forever.

Do I care?

Not really. And that’s something I want to blog about, why I don’t care–or, to be specific, what it is I don’t care about.

Oh, wait! I just went back a mere six months and lookie what I found:  http://janegassner.com/2017/08/the-good-old-days/ . This is what I said before that feels very familiar–to quote myself back at the beginning of this post.  So read that, and add it to this–and then we’ll see if I’m any better at fulfilling my urge this time.

Chocolate Mountain Pendant

Why Chocolate Mountain Pendant? Because I’ve just been looking up how to temper chocolate, and that’s where my mind is right now.

Why tempering chocolate? Because we’ve been binge watching British cooking shows, and I’m highly suggestible.

The Chocolate Mountain Pendant is part of a series of polymer clay creations I made using a made-it-up-myself method of slicing sheets of clay I covered with a melange of colored additives and putting them together in new ways for no other reason than I liked the way they looked. I backed them with black polymer clay for stability, and this is one of the results. I’ve added a copper fastener for hanging, brown leather cord and copper findings to finish.

I’m asking $30 for the Chocolate Mountain Pendant, free shipping within the continental US. If you’re interested, let me know in the Comments.

The Seamstress’s Collage Pendant

 

Are you looking for a gift for someone who sews?

I’ve taken the smallest of stretched canvas as the base for this collage. The background color I chose was black, which made the dressmaker’s dummy stamps in white on the background seem almost ghostly. I embossed the scissors stamp with gold. Finally, I found the smallest Mother Of Pearl infant buttons from my vintage stock and applied them. Then I fixed two tiny gold-colored eye screws in the top and threaded thin black satin ribbon fastened with a gold magnetic clasp.  Total length is about 28″.

$18.00

Free shipping within the continental US. Elsewhere, let’s discuss.

Comment your interest.

Chinese Lucky Lobster Pendant

DOMINO PENDANTS

I am inspired by the possibilities of small canvases so when
I saw the range of art being produced on dominoes, I immediately bought a set and did the prep work getting them ready to work with. That was about 15 years ago, and while I loved the art I was able to create, I lacked the wherewithal to do more with them than wish I could figure out some way of using them. Time has passed, and I’ve now gotten some ideas from others about how to use the dominoes in jewelry.

Dripping alcohol ink onto a domino and then hitting it with a blast of air creates wild patterns.
When I first looked at this first one horizontally, I saw a prehistoric cave drawing. When I turned it to the vertical view, it became a lobster…and suddenly had a Chinese vibe. Gold and red–aren’t those the lucky colors? The background is a sheen of gold, I picked up in the thin leather cord from which it hangs. The beads are gold metal, art glass, and red faux pearls.

I’m paying the postage on this one, within the United States. Elsewhere, let’s talk.

$20….and you’ll have it well in time for Christmas. Comment if you’re interested….

 

Op Art Collage Brooches

 

1-1/2 in square collage composed of hand-painted wood squares, original watercolor art and hand-made polymer clay bead.
1-1/2 inch wearable art collage composed of painted and dyed wood, batik cloth and a polymer clay bead, all hand-made by me. Pin on back.

I love working small and I like working with squares. I enjoy the way different paint and ink media look when applied to raw wood. So the balsa squares that hobbyists use are a natural pallet for me. Once I have the base colors, I go to the drawer that I’ve labeled “In Progress” to find components that I’ve started but haven’t figured out what to do with. Watercolors that I’m working on…Polymer clay beads that I’m creating…and bits and pieces of whatever else is at hand. They’re portable canvases, truly Multi-media Wearable Art.

I’m selling them for $15 each. Shipping is free, domestically. Outside the US, let’s talk. I take Paypal or Google Wallet. If you’re interested, let me know in the comments.

 

 

Sheldon High’s Vendor & Craft Show

Sheldon High School Vendor & Craft Show. Saturday, October 14, 2017, 10-4

My first show!!!

Come see me if you’re in the San Joaquin Valley/ Sacramento-Stockton area. I’ll be one of the 50 plus crafters showcasing our wares. I’ve never been to this show, so I have no idea of the set-up. Just know that I’ll be outside, somewhere….

I haven’t done an antique show in donkey’s years–Q: what is a donkey year? A: a really long time–so I’m really winging it. We went to a similar high school craft show last week, and I was impressed with the displays people crafted. So I’m starting the show already feeling intimidated. But it will answer my burning question: will anyone pay money for my creations????

The history of my obsession, creating bits & baubles.

Handpainted Red & Gold Domino Pendant $25

It all began back in high school, taking a course from Mr. Shearer, he of the Elmer Fudd impediment, who began each term announcing: “Good mo’ning, boys and gels. I’m Mr. Scheewer and dis is Jewey Cwaft.”

In college, I originated the idea of creating earrings by sticking blobs of melted crayons onto straight pins. I have a clear memory of a beautiful pair of pale aqua drops; I have no memory of how they might have fastened to my ears.

During the years I lived in England, the 70s, I took a jewelry-making class at…I don’t remember that either. However, I have a clear image of myself burning flux off some bauble I was making of some kind of metal. But not much more.

During the ‘80s, I was one of those people fashioning chokers from heishi beads strung on fishing line. Yes, I was a hippie.

In the 90s, I progressed to seed beads. I loved buying them. I loved buying books and magazines with full color photos of what incredible creations Real Artists had made with them. I did not love the tedium of following the instructions, which always featured directional arrows that confused me. Still, I persevered.

By the mid-2000s, when I discovered wire-wrapping and polymer clay, the fun I had making these bits and baubles had given rise to a growing guilt.  I was wasting time and money, which may have done for my hippie days, but was out of sync with my 21st century entrepreneurial self. So I ventured into the marketplace, with Etsy first and then Artfire. Tough sales venues. Too tough for me. 

I don’t expect that the place I’ve created on my website called Aphra’s Art to be any easier. But since it’s my very own private, personal marketplace, I don’t have to worry about seeing all the competition displayed right next–or instead of–me.

Aphra’s Art is a work in progress–as is everything I do–so don’t expect to see a fully realized shop site. But don’t worry, I’ll let you know when I’ve posted something new.

Quotidian: August 30, 2017

My how time passes when you’re having fun. Not. Having fun, that is.

My days follow a sameness: get up, brush teeth, push button on coffee maker, brush hair, get a treat for Lulu, get a package of breakfast biscuits from the closet that is the larder, left click to open computer, carefully carry coffee across kitchen, working at circumventing the sleeping Sherlock, toss treat on Lulu’s pillow, open Gmail, sink into office chair, drink coffee, eat breakfast biscuit, go through in turn Gmail, Yahoo and Facebook. Sink further in chair. Get involved in watching Feel Good animal videos. Realize I have become a person who watches videos online.

This is new to me. I used to hate when news stories turned to videos. Real reportage is to be read, not watched. A picture is not worth a thousand well-crafted words offering both fact and analysis. Moreover, a pox on pretty girl and boy reporters who probably got mediocre marks in their college composition classes. I know, because I doled out those B’s and C’s. They were the students who would offer definitive statements in their essays to which I would invariably have to ask, “Where’s your support for this?”

They had no support. Something was so because they said it was. Or someone said it was, somewhere, sometime, that they heard about. And anyway, who’s to say what is and isn’t so. It’s all relative, right? Everyone’s entitled to their opinion.

And that, my friends, is why Donald Trump is president. And why our democracy is probably in its waning days. The Founders warned about this, the day when the rabble (or as we call them, the incorrigibles) rose up and spoke so loudly that theirs became the only voice of the people.

That statement, which arrived seemingly unbidden from my subconscious, is, of course, my opinion. To which I am entitled. And having said so, I  must go watch some more Feel Good animal videos. They are, these days, the only anodyne to the pain inflicted by the state of the nation.

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