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A Day at the Beach

2 Aug

I have had an on again, off again love-hate relationship with the beach my whole life.

During my earliest childhood years, I lived with my mother in California and we were constantly at the beach (totally free and very clean back in those days).  My mother made headline news when she (7-8 months pregnant with my sister) and another woman pulled a shark that got into the shallows on to dry sand.  His jaws are still hanging on a wall in the local Naval museum (don’t ask which base, they’re all a blur).

We camped on the beach and stole creatures out of tidal pools to dry on the roof and become home decor.  There were dune buggies and bonfires every night, and deep holes dug into the sand in the shape of hearts behind the dune furthest from the beach that were filled in each morning and dug afresh (and if you can’t guess how they were used, your childhood was severely lacking in social beach etiquette).

I loved the beach, but was wary of the tidal current, which we called the rip tide and which I imagined was a giant frog (rip-it!) that grabbed your legs and pulled you under water (bless that six-year-old imagination).

I spent two different years of my later childhood living in Florida with my father and step-mother.  We lived on a canal (where I was certain the Creature from the Black Lagoon lived and was creeping across the backyard to my window at night when the dolphins came into the canals to splash and play) and, like every other family, we had a speed boat.  I don’t remember going to the beach to just fry in the sun or frolic in the waves, but I do remember trying to learn to water ski on inland lakes, ocean fishing (puffer fish are really cool!) and clamming along the coast.

As a young adult, I once spent every weekend of an entire summer at Second Beach in Newport, Rhode Island.  At the end of the summer I had turned from lily-white to a nice shade of ivory.  I far more enjoyed the little beach on the Newport bay that had a beautiful lawn, a meager six-foot stretch of sand, and water filled with phytoplankton that we would stir up into a phosphorescent light show at night while skinny dipping.  Star-lit and moon-lit walks in the dark along the edge of the surf was my prime beach time.

I have now lived in Florida as a mature adult for 21 years.  During that time I have been to the beach twice, once in Ft. Lauderdale where I lounged on a sea-side chaise under a huge umbrella and was brought drinks and food by cute cabana boys (I braved the sun once to dip myself in the water and hastily retreated) and once on a fishing trip with my best girl friends, including one baby.  Understand this:  We did not fish with hooks.  We didn’t actually want to catch (and thereby handle) any fish.  We loved casting and reeling, and of course we had to drink beer!  And we moved our fishing activities to inland lakes and rivers after Kelly ate a substantial amount of (hopefully) helpful pro-biotic sand and I had diaper duty.

So yesterday I went to the beach with my best friend ever.  Alice and I have the same complaints about the beach, such as burning to a crisp after 5 minutes in the sun wearing the heaviest sunscreen available is not fun, having sand go places it shouldn’t outa (and having more of those places as we age!) is not gonna happen, and after going into the clear blue waters of the Caribbean, neither of us is willing to put one toe in the scummy, brownish water of our Central Florida waterfronts where you can’t see Jaws until it’s too late.

Here is our idea of the perfect day at the beach.

  • Turn on Garmin and have him take us to New Smyrna.
  • Follow a sandy track to the tiny parking lot of our favorite seaside dive bar (and no, I’m not saying where because everyone would start going there and we want it all to ourselves!).
  • Sit at the outside bar, which is tucked under enough roof that the sun can’t get to you until late afternoon.
  • Order refreshing alcoholic beverages.
  • People-watch with a horrified obsession.
  • Look at the ocean.
  • Look at the sand.
  • Enjoy the cool ocean breeze.
  • Order some lunch.
  • Order more refreshing alcoholic beverages.
  • Flirt with old men who chat us up and want to pinch our asses (Alice declines gracefully saying they should probably start with a pat on the fanny).
  • Crack jokes with the bartenders.
  • Crack jokes with each other.
  • Order more refreshing alcoholic beverages.
  • Relax and let the alcohol burn off.
  • Get a cup of ice water and tell Garmin to take us back home.
  • Take a nice long soak in my roman tub (alone, dirty minds!) with wonderful smelling bath products and a refreshing alcoholic beverage.
  • Have a nice bit of nap (don’t get your hopes up:  alone again).

Paradise perfected!

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I’m Home!

15 Jan

Safe, sound and happy!

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Photography Studio

7 May

When I began to try to master the intricacies of photographing my jewelry, I started with this, a cardboard box and a set of regular bulbs in clip-on aluminum light shades:

Loving That Light Box of Mine

Then the roof leaked and destroyed my homemade box, so I broke down and bought this, the “Square Perfect SP500 Platinum Photo Studio In A Box”:

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This set-up was in my library/spare room, and I went through many backgrounds, including a whole fairy-forest-in-a-box!

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I was still having problems with color and lighting, so I left the expensive lightbox rig in the garage after the house flooded and purchased a Canon EOS Rebel T3 Red EF-S 18-55mm IS II:

Rebel T3

On the advice of a friend who was a professional photographer at one point in his life I bought a collapsible reflector disk, and now this is my photography studio:

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Looks a lot like a livingroom, heh?  Well, it is and it’s mine, sprinkled with bits of the yard tracked in by my pups.  To the left is a tall set of double doors that face west.  These doors let in a considerable amount of ambient light from morning until early afternoon, and have turned out to be a perfect light source.  To set up, I turn the ottoman on the left 90° and place one of the leather pillows on it:

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Then I unroll and lay a piece of chocolate suede over both (the leather of the ottoman is too shiny; I wanted matte):

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I push the other ottoman over against the first one, and stick the reflector in the gap:

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Add my handmade necklace display (made of the same suede) and I’m ready to set up my piece of jewelry.

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And here is my latest creation, waiting for me to sit down on the floor, or kneel as required, ready to shoot!

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Post-editing, this is one of the shots I uploaded to my boutique:

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Ta da!  No special lights, no special lightbox, no special room, and very little to tuck away out of sight when I’m done.

Simpler, in this case, really is better.  To read about my breakthrough “aha moment” in photography, start here.CameraFaerieSign

Unusual Discovery

28 Apr

I have beaten my hand into shreds doing wire wrapping the past 2 weeks.  Each night, after I was finished torturing myself, I would lavish different hand creams on my poor hands and slip on a pair of gloves to try to calm down the damage.  Tonight I totally lucked upon a new way to heal my mangled flesh:

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So, my hands are (apparently) akin to pieces of wood!  But, hey, it works.  My hands feel better than they have for the past 2 weeks, and my butcher block and wood-handled knives are gleaming with perfection.  Who’d have guessed?handssign

Oven Mitts; Who Knew?

26 Apr

I use oven mitts to get stuff (like frozen pizza) out of the oven…

Apparently there are most uses for oven mitts than I ever knew.

I discovered, to my delight, during my annual “Well Woman” exam last week that oven mitts are really handy (hah!) when they’re slipped over those cold, hard stirrups.  My GYN’s office may be kept colder than a walk-in freezer, but they’ve got the most comfortable stirrups in town!ovenmittsign

My Art Shakes Hands with the Public

10 Apr

My mother called me Friday afternoon to tell me her homeowner’s association was holding a neighborhood garage sale and that Joey, my new step-daddy, wanted to take part. Since Annette and I hadn’t done one in some time, she wanted to know if I wanted in, and maybe I could bring some of my handmade items along.

Since I was going to call her later than day any way and ask her if she wanted to go do something, anything, to get me out of the house on Saturday, I said, “Hell, yeah,” but I didn’t think a garage sale was a good place to sell fully marked up jewelry items.  She pointed out that she’d seen a neighbor, several houses down, selling handmade floral arrangements at the last sale (and that they were really not very nice looking) and what did I have to lose.

And so I thought, what did I have to lose?

Say it with me:  NOTHING.

So I went through the last of my rings that I used to wear before I retired, marked them all for size, metal and price, gathered together all the books that I was planning on donating to the local library, and all the computer games I hadn’t looked at in years (and that wouldn’t play on my IOS any way) and popped them in the trunk.

Since all my handmade items are already inside plastic baggies that are inside plastic containers, it was no problem to tuck them in the front seat, along with some jewelry displays, but I was stumped about what to do about item descriptions and prices.  My brain is a large-holed sieve when it comes to that kind of information.

I looked through the Etsy apps and found one that let you download your items in stock, but in the end I only had a list of the item name with a photo and the cost, and that was 15 pages long after extensive editing.  So I popped my laptop into the car, too, since all my descriptions are first written in Word for uploading to Etsy.

What did I forget?

BUSINESS CARDS.

Fortunately, I had my card case with me in my purse, so I was able to put those out.  My case holds 20 cards.  Whew!

I sold the books for 25¢ each, 5 for $1; the computer games were $1 each, and the rings were $1 (only 2 or 3), $5 or $10 depending on silver content.

I sold about 80% of the books, 75% of the games, and all but 3 of the rings.

I didn’t sell a single piece of my handmade items, but each one of my cards left in the hands of very interested women.

One woman who live in Tuscawilla, our most affluent housing development on this side of Orlando, was the first to take a card because she and her friends hold “sales parties” where they invite several local businesses to bring their “presentation”.  She said they have more fun because there’s not just one type of product and more of her girlfriends come because there’s more chance of finding something of interest.  And she wants me to take part.  Very cool.

I received several invitations to take part in senior citizen organizations that do the same thing to make it easier for the elderly to shop for gifts and for themselves; the “stores” come to them so they don’t have to get out and about.

My biggest sale of the day was a lovely woman who bought 17 rings to give to her church’s Senior Auction; along with her own purchases, she forked over a whomping $107.00!

I wasn’t sure how I would like the “selling” part of the experience (since I find “marketing and sales” to be dismal and soul-sucking) and found out that I was very good at chatting up people and talking about my jewelry.  I didn’t find it any different from chatting up my team and the team on the other side of the negotiation table, or keeping things light and dissolving tension during negotiations.  I really am a people person and it was good to be out talking to new people.  (Yes, I am one of those people who starts up conversations with total strangers while waiting in a long line or on short trolley rides.  Yeah, I’m THAT girl.  Well, I guess I should say I’m THAT old woman, now.)

So, it’s a hell of a lot more fun to try to sell things to people face-to-face than it is on-line.  Not any more profitable, but a heck of a lot less work!

There was one really big negative, though.  Even with tons of sunscreen and being sure to keep in the shade, I look like a freshly boiled lobster and I feel nearly as bad as one, right before it stops squealing.

One Hundred Sales!

27 Feb

My fellow Etsian and friend, Sandy of Faerie Queen Crochet, noticed today that I reached a hundred sales in my boutique, Faerie Fabulous Finds!  This happened on February 13th with the sale of my Full Moon Magic Charm Necklace in Crystal and Sterling Silver.  Such an incredibly validating milestone and I totally missed it!  Guess it’s a good thing I haven’t had another sale since…

Thank you Sandy!

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